Ground Hog Day

   Each day of teaching is intense, exciting, and full of challenges and wonder!  Last Wednesday I told my son that I was really looking forward to getting to work on Thursday, because that’s the day I work with my kindergarten students.  They make me feel like a celebrity!  When I walk in the door they run up to me and give me hugs and want to tell me all their news.  They want to help me bring things from my car to the art studio classroom.

On Thursday morning I woke up with a cold, and had to call in sick.  Today it was finally Thursday again and my fan club was eagerly waiting for me. They had a million questions.  Could they draw dinosaurs?  Could they paint?  Could they draw dragons?  Could they use oil pastels?

Yes! You can draw a Chinese dragon!

The last time I had worked with these students was our first open studio day which had been a wonderful success.  All of the months of instruction preparing them to function well in the choice studio had paid off.  Even clean up time went smoothly.  Today I was a bit nervous as it had been two weeks since we had worked together.  However, the students selected their materials and plunged right in to art making. I had one little girl that immediately noticed the new box of collage pieces I had set out.  (These pieces are actually last year’s unclaimed art that has been cut into small rectangles.)  As she was the first one to discover the box, she had quite a selection to choose from. She ended up creating a laptop computer out of paper with  a melted crayon piece from the collage box being what was displayed on the screen.

After this boy created Willy Wonka's chocolate factory he dictated a synposis of Charlie's adventures and how he got chosen to go to the chocolate factory.

I had quite a few block builders, and they created the Whitehouse, a road for a horse to run on, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and some fabulous towers.  I had kids at the 3 d center building with boxes and colored masking tape.  They remembered to do the shake test to make sure their constructions were well built without me prompting them. I also had quite a few students gluing bits and piece of wood to cardboard bases.  I had to remind them that puddles of glue were wasteful.  To them, glue is like paint, and they like decorating with it.  I guess I should add some colorant to it to jazz it up for them. (But I still will have to give the “no puddles” lecture next Thursday!) I had a student come up to me today and tell me that he really loves art.  He is a kid that doesn’t function well at our circle time and can be a disruptor when I’m reading a book or showing a reproduction to illustrate a point such as some ways that artists use texture, but when we have studio time he is incredibly engaged.  I have another student who I am wondering how I can engage in the studio.  I’ve realized that he’s one that sort of drifts in and out of centers, goes to the bathroom a lot, and basically isn’t getting that spark from the materials I have on offer.  He fiddled around at the 3d center today, but after about ten minutes told me he was ready for studio time to be over with.  He often copies what other students are doing, but doesn’t seem to generate many ideas on his own. (At least not yet-that’s something I’m hoping I can support him in.)  Thank heavens I was able to get him to try the block area.  He became very engrossed there with creating a tower that had lots of interesting shapes balancing on each other.  I’m hoping he’s discovered his niche in the studio.  I’ll see if he heads there next Thursday!

The balancing block tower and the horse track next to it.

At the end of my morning session I received the ultimate compliment of being begged to play with my students on the playground at recess .  I didn’t have a meeting so I was able to join the kids.  In the afternoon my students asked me to do our wiggle dance, sing a song, and tell a story, because they had missed all of those things so much when I was absent. It’s nice to have one teaching day a week in which I am the glorious art teacher!  (Even if I know there can be crazy moments during clean up time, students that need lots of encouragement and support, and times when my supposedly well stocked centers run out of something critical.) The other days I teach I also have appreciative students, but they are not quite as demonstrative as my Thursday Kindergarteners!

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About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
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