I know everyone's heard the phrase, "It must be good being a teacher, you have summer's off!"
I like to keep my comments to myself when I hear that, but everyone has different plans for their summer. Some schools are year round, so educators still continue to lesson plan. Many of my co-workers still spend the summer collecting materials for the next school year, create Power Points for future lessons, and research for their curriculum. I'm no different!
Creative Multitasking! While I'm browsing on the laptop, I have a habit of making my way to Pinterest, which is a great place for finding ideas for home and work. If you have not heard of Pinterest before, I recommend it. You create "boards" that save links to other sites and blogs that are useful, such as art teacher blogs, lesson plans, and even recipes for the home. There have been moments this summer where I was creating a recipe from Pinterest while organizing my sites for 4th grade lesson ideas! Go to www.pinterest.com to start!
Create your own work. Between the lesson planning and house chores, I like to use summertime for creating my personal artworks. Creating your own personal work helps to refine your techniques while expressing your own creativity. If you choose to work with a specific medium (such as acrylics or oils), use your time to create your own work.
(Relief: My Response to Passing National Board Certification, 2011)
Professional Development. Summer is also a good time to take classes for yourself. Many districts require professional development time, and what better way than to refine your own skills! Look at what's available in your area...would it be the park district, a local university? A zoo? There are many opportunities available to help you gathers those professional development hours while you're refining your own techniques.
Join a Group! I'd like to recommend joining an artist group online. You can meet other wonderful artist around the world, discuss works of art, and critique each others pieces. I have been a member of the artist group World Artist Network for a number of years, and we've grown into a wonderful artist community. With the help of the artist group, I have been able to post my own works of art for suggestions before the finished state. I noticed a change in my art style with the guidance of my artist friends. There are many art groups available online, through Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and other sites.
Participate in a Challenge! In the artist groups, many times challenges are posted to help exercise your creative skills and techniques. In the World Artist Network, we had weekly challenges called "Digital Animal Drawings" that gave artists a chance to play with digital images or creating drawings. Many times, we found humor in the works created, but it was wonderful to see so much work posted within the week.
(Ostrich, Digital Drawing, 2011)
International Drawing Day! At the end of the school year, there is always a day dedicated to creating drawings from around the world. Drawing Day 2012 was on June 4th, but for next year, recommend to your students to create a drawing on 2013's date. There are many sites available to post your drawings from that day, but for more information, please go to www.drawingday.org.
(Chloe Shells from Coldwater Lake, Graphite on Paper, June 4th, 2012)
Enter a Show! When you have a good portfolio of work, you may consider entering your work into a gallery or an art show. Participating in public shows is a positive way of showing your school and students that you are active in the art community. Many times, your school may even promote your shows to the community so parents, faculty, and students can see what work you can do! (an FYI...be aware that if you teach elementary, your parents may not want students to see questionable images. Know your professional responsibilities).
Offer to Teach a Class in your Local Community. If you don't want to take a class, maybe you want to teach one! Even if you teach elementary, you may want to take a turn at instructing adults by instructing beginner's painting or sculpture classes at local places, such as galleries or park districts. It's a change of pace, and you may gain more ideas for your own lessons in the classroom.
Plenty of ideas, and only three months to use them all! I can't help but take time to create in the summertime, especially when my daughter wants to paint next to me when I'm working with watercolors. I love having the time to work with my own child most of all. Have a Good Summer!