Thursday, September 22, 2011

Being an Advocate while Traveling

If you’re travelling or stationary, you are one of the advocates for the arts in your school district…even if you feel tired and sluggish after a day of pushing the cart.  There are many ways to promote art within your school, and I would like to offer a few ideas to help promote creative thinking with your students, co-workers, community.  Even if your load feels full, you can still promote your curriculum in many ways.

Cross-Curricular Lessons

When you can fit it into your curriculum, it’s a wonderful partnership when you combine lessons with another teacher.  In doing so, you are re-enforcing the objectives of the lesson, and students have fun in the process.  One example of a cross-curricular lesson was with a 2nd grade class.  The school’s reading night’s theme was “oceans,” and the students were learning about ocean life prior to the special night.  

During the study of ocean life, I introduced different kinds of fish to the students and had them create different types of fish that were made 3-dimensional.  When finished, the fish decorated the gym while students and parents enjoyed the ocean life decorations during reading night.  

Another way to combine lessons is to create lessons inspired by the social studies curriculum.  Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek, and Renaissance history provide a rich amount of knowledge for the students in the general and creative environment.

Share your Professional Development with the Administration:

If you’ve recently attended a state or national conference, try to squeeze in writing a report about what you visited and what you plan to include into your curriculum.  In doing so, you are showing your willingness to improve your methods of teaching, as well as staying on top of recent trends in art education.  As an overachiever, I knew that I would be busy once I returned from the Seattle conference early this year, so I typed a report on the plane!  Everyone has their own way of documenting their conference experiences.  Another way to share your recent adventures is by creating new lessons to share with the students, and adapting your lessons to your travelling or cart situation. 
Promote the Arts with Parents and Guardians  

This can be tricky, especially when you’re not at the same school every day.  I like to begin the school year by creating a “wishlist” of items parents and guardians can donate from home.  Each homeroom teacher has their own list, but not every school has a supply list for art.  In my wishlist, I request simple things I overuse, such as paper plates, handiwipes, and newspaper.  Throughout the school year, I can receive items from parents, and it’s been a HUGE help.  

During open house time, I also created a flier that can be given to parents at all three school.  Within the flier, I give an introduction to myself, the art curriculum, and Eisner’s “Top 10 List” of what the arts teach.  Every year, more and more parents come into the art room to say hello and visit the displays, and more compliments are given from the schools I travel to.   

Another way to promote the arts with parents is by inviting them to your space.  If you have any after school art activities, throw a mini art show for an hour after school.  It’s easy to set up, quick to take down, and parents love the visit!

Ways to Amaze the Community

Are there local businesses that would love to display student work?  How about the village hall?  With networking, you can easily stop by a local business to create a little display of student work for the community.

During the school district board meetings, ask if you can display your student’s work.  The meetings are public, and attendees love to see the student work!  It’s also another boost of recognition by the board members.

Make room in your curriculum for local art contests.  In doing so, you are sharing your student’s talents with the community!

Everything above requires a little extra work, but it’s well worth it in the end.  As previously noted in pros and cons, the more work that’s displayed by your students, the more the community recognize the hard work that you do.   

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