I really enjoyed these photos and thought I'd share them!
I’m finally starting to have fun on my job! Here’s what we’ve been up to this week!
Paper plates turned out to be quite an inspiration for my young artists!
Two girls were proud to tell me they were creating a picture together. I was excited to tell them, “It’s wonderful to see you collaborating!
I like how the children combined two types of building materials and the stuffed animals in this creation. I imagine the animals were vying for who would be king of the hill!
I’ve had an incredibly difficult start to the school year. In fact it’s been a real nightmare! Thankfully things finally seem to be gelling and coming together in a positive way! My morning class has been ok, but my afternoon class has had me pulling my hair.
I started a new job as a kindergarten enrichment teacher this fall in a program I formerly was only responsible for art enrichment one day a week. That means that not only do I teach art, but I teach the entire curriculum from literacy, to math and science, to Spanish. (I try to approach it all from an arts perspective, because I strongly believe visual arts, music, movement, and drama really are fundamental ways that we learn and retain information.) I was hired last minute, and I had to hire two assistants even more last minute(!) from a very sparse pool of applicants. However, the worst thing has been that I have a very unfortunate mix of children that are “like chalk and cheese” to borrow a phrase from my new favorite TV show (Doc Martin: which I’ve absolutely needed to watch every Friday night to decompress). I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole in terms of behavior issues the entire first month. I’d get one situation in hand and suddenly have two or three more pop up, and even with help from assistants we were barely treading water. As my supervisor put it quite aptly, “Your students are positively feral!” After a month, two children that provoked the majority of behavioral issues left the program which was a huge help. I still had my work cut out for me to shape up the rest of the “major players”, but finally that really seems to be happening! Most of my students are actually super sweet, cooperative, and wonderful, but the difficult ones seem to make the great kids invisible, primarily because they create so much stress and drama. I have been so exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally, and it finally feels as if my life is getting back to normal and my energy and my smile are back!
When I got this job I was really happy because instead of coordinating several part time jobs I’d have one full time job in one location. I was also happy because I’d finally be making a living wage after quite a few years struggling and piecing together part time jobs. Soon I found myself thinking, “How am I going to make it to the end of the school year, I barely have the wherewithal to make it to the weekend!” I wanted to quit. The work I’d had the past few years as an art educator (which I’ve shared with you in this blog) had been demanding, and time consuming, but it was energizing and most importantly fun! All I could think of was that I had given up something that had really made me happy. I wanted to go back to my homeschool students. I wanted to be teaching art exclusively instead of being responsible for the whole curriculum. I felt guilty knowing that having a new teacher would be another upheaval and set back for this group. Then I began to realize my supervisor was considering firing me. She never came out and said it, but I sensed it. I realized I didn’t even care if I got fired. In fact it would have been a relief, and I kind of wish she had! Now that things are finally going well, I know I’ll make it through the school year. There will probably always be challenging moments or the occasional difficult day, just as there always are no matter how great your job is, but as long as things are mostly hunky dory I know I can muster up what’s required.
I’m still feeling as if I’m barely treading water in terms of all of the requirements of my job, but that’s definitely par for the course with a new job. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but today was the first time I got home from work early and had the time to write it!
Despite all of the challenges I do have some photos to share! There have been some activities that students have enjoyed and had fun getting creative!
Crèche de la Girafe – Paris, France
Educational Centre - Granada, Spain
Fuji Kindergarten – Tokyo, Japan
Fagerborg Kindergarten – Oslo, Norway
Sarreguemines Nursery – Lorraine, France
Els Colours – Barcelona, Spain
Aadharshila Vatika – New Delhi, India
Wolfartsweier Kindergarten – Karlsruhe, Germany
Loop Kindergarten – Tianjin, China
Ecole Maternelle Pajol – Paris, France
These schools are beautiful spaces for children. From experience I know that even humble learning spaces can be very lively places that children's imaginations can soar in. Hopefully schools like these can inspire more municipalities to embrace fanciful as well as functional aspects in their building designs!
It’s been a busy start to the school year. I am now teaching a kindergarten enrichment program full time, which means I have a morning group and an afternoon group. The program offers children the opportunity for extended learning experiences beyond the regular school day which is two hours and forty minutes long. Being that I have a passion for the arts, all of the curriculum is arts integrated!
I began this blog in January of 2012 as a place to reflect on my art teaching (and learning) experiences. I write when inspiration strikes. I take photos of my students just about every day, so the photos are an important part of sharing what’s going on in my classroom “corner of the world”.
I began blogging because I was inspired by reading the book Julia and Julia. I also was inspired by some incredible bloggers! Some are parents that homeschool and some are educators. All are wonderful, and I really feel privileged to be able to peek in on what’s going on in their “corners of the world”.
Thankyou Little Hands, Big Art for your nomination! My afternoon group is quite challenging to say the least! When I arrived home and found the notification of the nomination in my e-mail it really turned my day around!
In order to receive the reward, Franciful Arts must participate in the rules required by the status of this award. They are as follows:
1. Display the Award Certificate on your blog. CHECK!
2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you. CHECK!
3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award. SEE BELOW!
4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment. (Still trying to work out the bugs with this part!)
5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. CHECK!
I’d like to nominate the following blogs for the Versatile Blogger Award too!
1.Teacher Tom http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
Tom Hobson shares the wonderful things happening at Woodland Park Preschool and is truly inspirational!
2. Artful Explorations in Nature http://artfulexplorationsinnature.com/
Taran Pappas comes up with great ideas for getting outdoors for art inspiration. Not sure if she’s currently teaching, but she is definitely enjoying creating nature inspired art!
3. The Natural Playground http://thenaturalplayground.wordpress.com/author/thenaturalplayground/
This Scottish blogger is an outdoor educator doing some wonderful explorations of nature and the outdoors with her students.
4. Julie Liddle, Art in Hand http://artinhand4tots.wordpress.com
I have enjoyed reading about Julie’s art education classes for preschoolers. She has some lovely play based activities.
5. Acorn Pies http://acornpies.blogspot.com
Beth is definitely versatile! She paints portraits, she quilts and sews, she teaches art at her son’s school, tells stories, and travels! I love reading about all her adventures in Switzerland and across Europe, and I love seeing all the projects she’s involved with!
6. Chocolate Muffin Tree http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com
Lots of lovely hands on art activities for young children are shared on this blog by an art educator that’s enjoying time at home with her daughter.
7. Awe Filled Wonder http://awefilledwonder.blogspot.com/
Love this Canadian Kindergarten Teacher’s approach to learning through play and hands-on experiences!
8. Evergreen Art http://evergreenart.birdsong.org/
A very special art teacher friend of mine writes this blog about her choice based art program in Western Washington.
9. Camp Creek Blog http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog
A wonderful blog by Lori Pickert. Lori formerly operated a Reggio inspired primary grades school. Now she is homeschooling her own two children using project based learning techniques.
10. Bakers and Astronauts http://bakersandastronauts.blogspot.com/
Allie Pasquier’s reflective art education blog is one you shouldn’t miss!
11. Jump for Joy http://joyforjump.blogspot.com/
A photo blog of all different kinds of folks jumping and leaping. Most of the photos are taken in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.
12. Growing a Jeweled Rose http://www.growingajeweledrose.com
This mother of two girls really knows how to cook up some great play experiences. She shares her recipes and the joy of messy fun!
13. Learn Play Imagine http://www.learnplayimagine.com/
Another great blog that has lots of recipes for hands-on messy play!
14. Artful Parent http://www.artfulparent.com/
Art educator and mom Jean Van’t Hul shares wonderful drawing ideas and supports open ended art experiences.
15. Choosing Choice http://choosingchoice.blogspot.com/
Julie Toole, Chicago art educator shares her choice based art classroom and student art!
Now for 7 things about Franciful Arts Blog!
1. I have fun coming up with titles for my blog posts!
2.Generally it’s a brief moment in my day of teaching art that inspires me to write.
3. It’s frustrating that I can’t post my best photos of the students grinning ear to ear while creating or with their creations. On the other hand….I appreciate that I can post photos that show them at work.
4. I hope to share more in depth information in a future blog post about teaching my students to sew stuffed animals from socks so you can try it or share it with your children and students!
5. My students’ art is a tremendous inspiration to me as an artist!
6. I like to plunge up to my elbows in messy art! After all…I’m washable, and so are my students, and my classroom!
7. I’m proud to be a member of the National Art Education Association, and am looking forward to the next conference in San Diego this spring! I’m going to be a presenter with another art teaching friend from the TAB/choice professional learning community!
I started a new full time teaching position this year and it’s been an intense start to the school year. Imagine what a boost it was to my morale to discover that I’d been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Roylco’s Little Fingers Big Art blog! Unfortunately I don’t have time this evening to follow all the proceedings such as nominating 15 more bloggers, but I should be able to this weekend.
In the meantime: here’s a photo showing what my kindergarten students have been up to in art this past week!
This summer I’ve had three classes that I meet with once a week on Thursdays. The preschool art group has been the class that I’ve enjoyed the most and that I really look forward to. I’ve had a core group of two five year old boys, and one six year old boy.
I set up four choices, but we generally start with block building because students don’t all arrive at the same time, and it’s easy for the late comers to join in. The three boys really enjoy block building and imaginative play. I really have fun knocking down towers with them, and listening to their descriptions of how the toy animals are protecting the castles, or why all of the orange blocks now represent cannons. They absolutely love it when I take dictation of their descriptions and stories about what they have created.
Two weeks ago we had a fourth boy join in the class as a drop in. He wasn’t interested in the least in the wooden dominos I had brought that day as our block building opener. In fact after cycling through three choices in about five minutes, he finally found an activity that piqued his interest. The problem was that as he hurried through choices the other boys who usually will spend 15-25 minutes per choice were zipping along with him. They weren’t settling in and really exploring the activities as they usually do.
Being that I am adaptable and flexible I made the best of the situation, and we still had a great class though for me I felt like an octopus with a hand in each station and managing several activities simultaneously. We weren’t playfully exploring and having the productive discussions about the art process that had been occurring other class meetings. We were bouncing into and out of the activities until the boy I’ll call Mr. Zip discovered the die press that I had set up for creating textured paper, that would most likely be used to make collages. Even then Mr . Zip finished his collage first, and thankfully I had a picture book to read aloud about Timothy Wicks, a boy with a wonderful imagination. While I read the story to Mr. Zip the other three boys were happy to use the die press and stay at the collage center, while also listening to the story.
I was relieved the next week when Mr. Zip did not drop in. Everything was harmonious and relaxed and back to the pace at which discoveries were being made, and stories created.
This week Mr. Zip dropped in again. He was the second to arrive and technically was early. He did not want to build with blocks. As I figured the other students would arrive within three or four minutes I had him sit at a table. He sat there quietly as the other boys came in and settled into the blocks. I asked him if he wanted to draw, which he did. I offered him markers, colored pencils, or graphite pencil. He chose the graphite pencil and began to draw a bird.
The three boys initially were building separate structures but then decided to connect their structures and really were cooperating and sharing both the blocks and the plastic animals. Rather than recording three individual stories I wrote down their dialogue which showed how their interactions fueled more ideas. (I was able to make photocopies for the boys to take home at the end of class so the parents could see the dialogue too.)
Meanwhile Mr. Zip was engaged in drawing for the entire half an hour that the block building was going on. I was really amazed. And his drawing was really wonderful. I asked him if he wanted me to write down something about his picture, but he said, “No thanks.” I showed him a special Lyra graphite crayon I have which allows you to fill in large areas easily and has a slightly different texture than a graphite pencil. He said he wasn’t interested, but later I noticed that he did test it out.
I had also set up colored masking tape, cardboard tubes, small cardboard pieces for bases, old playing cards, and scissors for a sculpture station. I demonstrated a couple of attachment techniques and the kids started creating sculptures. One boy asked for markers, and soon the boys were also decorating their sculptures with colorful lines, pathways, etc…. One boy was really struggling with cutting the masking tape. He kept trying, and by the time he finished his sculpture, was excited that he could cut the tape easily without help. After about twenty minutes two of the boys moved onto the playdough station. Soon it was time to clean up and go with parents, but Mr. Zip was still totally engrossed in making a marble run. His mother was a few doors down in another shop, and I said I’d bring him down. While I put materials away in preparation for my next class, Mr. Zip continued to work on his marble run for another twenty five minutes and talked to me about what he was doing with enthusiasm. His grandma popped in to take him to lunch and he left very proud as he showed her his two creations.
What I love about teaching is I’m always learning. Mr. Zip was a reminder to me that first impressions about a student can be very inaccurate. Perhaps Mr. Zip wasn’t feeling quite comfortable dropping in with a new teacher, in a new situation. Perhaps the activities I had just weren’t activities that appealed much to him. After Mr. Zip left I reflected that I had been awfully quick to leap to the conclusion that Mr. Zip didn’t have a very long attention span. Mr. Zip did have a long attention span, but he had to have something to engage him that was meaningful to him. He has a lot to contribute to our group and I hope he drops in for our last session next week!
With the school year approaching, I will have new students. I will not have the luxury of teaching three or four at a time as I have this summer, but the lesson I learned will be a reminder to keep me open minded about the new students I am going to encounter.
I also have exciting news about the upcoming school year! I was offered a full time teaching position in the program that I’ve taught kindegarten art enrichment in one day a week for four years. I will truly miss my homeschool students, but I will not miss juggling several part time jobs and schlepping my art stuff all over the county. I look forward to many wonderful adventures this school year! ( And I do get a one week trip to Lake Tahoe before it’s back to the trenches!)