Setting Boundaries During the Honeymoon

Summer vacation is always so wonderful, but I have to say by the end of the summer I look forward to coming back. I feel so blessed to have found work I enjoy. The beginning of the year is a magical time and we teachers call it the “Honeymoon Period”. We are rested, organized, and we’ve had time to really reflect on all the things we want to do differently. The summer also gives us time and space to dream up and research new methods, techniques, and projects ideas.

 The beginning of the year for me is all about setting up good boundaries and routines. Scholar Brene Brown says that the most compassionate people often are the people who are good at setting clear boundaries. I feel this is completely true, boundaries are not about being ridged and controlling. Boundaries are about communication and love. It’s ok to have boundaries and the more you can clearly define them the better.  This empowers students to do the same, to speak up and learn how to advocate for themselves when something feels not right or unsafe. This is such a valuable life skill.
So what to boundaries look like in the art room? Well if you walk into my room at the beginning of the year and you walk into it at the end of the year you will see two very different classrooms. My classroom is choice based, which means the kids get to pick activities from a variety of stations. At the beginning of the year we learn each station as a whole group so that we can try out the new techniques together. If you see me teaching in this mode it looks like a whole group lesson. Then after the kids have had time to struggle through some challenge and I can see that all the students understand the new medium independently, then it becomes a center choice. At the beginning of the year the students have less stations and as the year progresses more and more stations are introduced. The first unit we start the year with is printmaking. During this unit students learn to transfer imagery using techniques that many graphic artists and illustrators use. I like to start with this because it gives students a lot of great strategies for making art right off the bat. But even as we learn these new techniques and begin diving into the creative process the main focus in the first weeks of school is making every child feel confident and successful in the art room.  Agreements are made based off of conversations about boundaries. Then as a team, we decide how can we make this happen together. 

A fresh start is a beautiful thing! The better the beginning of the year, the better the end. With all that said, I look forward to diving into another year of creative adventures with my students! This will be my 16th year at SDCCS and it really has gotten better and better with each new year. Thanks for taking the time to read this, stay tuned for more blogposts from 2017-2018 art class.❤️🎨🔔


Art Night May 25th

My favorite time of year is fast approaching. This year’s Art Night is titled “It’s a Small World” and it will be on Thursday May 25th 5:30 -8:00.  Mark your calendars now.  If you are looking for a chance to help I am looking for volunteers.  I need the most parent help the day before on the 24th and the day of on the 25th right after school.  It’s always a bit hectic displaying all the art and transforming the classrooms. The more of you who can come help out the better. The students are very excited about this year’s theme. We are studying many different artists who work with dioramas and miniatures. Alexander Calder, Sophie Woodrow, Betsy Youngst and Nathan Carter are some of the artists we are using as a source of inspiration for creating micro worlds.  Every year we do the miniature city in the art room but this year the miniature theme will extend into the classroom exhibits also. All the K-5 students are currently in the process of creating miniature characters and dioramas. We are also creating a miniature circus.  I wanted this theme to be playful and I am really happy with how the projects are coming along. This year we are even going to have local performance artists and puppeteers coming to perform a flea circus. Also our dance teacher will be hosting a flash mob and we will end the night with a performance from our band students in the auditorium. It is always a magical night.  I hope to see many of you there. Let me know if you are interested in  helping out. ❤️🎨🔔

Boredom Benefits Creative Thought

“Boredom is not a problem to be solved.  It’s the last privilege of a free mind” Gayatri Devi

This week I had a great discussion with my students about boredom.  It came up because I was telling them that I didn’t have that much screen time being a child of the seventies. My family didn’t get any games until I was about ten and by then I had so many other hobbies that video games never appealed to me. The topic of boredom is something I love to talk about with kids.  Even with all the choices in my room often they will come to me and complain that they are bored. I think kids today are really afraid of boredom, because they are in a world filled with so much stimuli. When my students seem upset I am empathetic, but the way I reassure them is by telling them I have faith in their ability to figure it out.  Also I remind them that boredom is the brains way of giving you space for new creations. Amazing ideas and solutions have come from people sitting around being bored.  I think boredom just gets a bad rap.   As parents and educators it is easy to feel the need to constantly entertain and control kids time.  But we need to fight that urge and give them the room to be curious and imaginative. This little watercolor was made by one of my young artists after a bout of boredom.  ❤️🎨🔔

Creative Screen Time

I am a hands on gal and the idea of incorporating technology into my program was something I didn’t think I’d ever do.  I think that kids get way too much of it as it is and when they come to the art room it should be a place free of electronics. But last year when I was given the opportunity to upgrade the technology in my classroom I knew it was time. It hasn’t even been a year since I got my new computers and my perspective has dramatically shifted.   I learned that there are two different types of screen time, passive and creative. Examples of passive screen time are: browsing social media sites, watching shows, browsing the internet, playing games.  Examples of creative screen time are learning a new skill, learning a new craft, making digital music or art, coding a game or creating an animation.  So when kids get computer time in my class they get to pick what art skill they want to improve on. I have been amazed at the progress that they have been making.  Many of the kids want to improve their free handing abilities and cartooning skills, other want to work on oragami, and some just want to make paper crafts I am saying yes to all of it as long as it’s creative.  The best part about all this is I can still do all the fun messy curriculum I have always done because the kids work independently at the computers each child gets about 1 hour on the computers each month.  Because my classroom is a makers space set up with lots of different stations the computers have become new creative stations.  So the next time you want to get your kid to quit playing so many video games encourage them to show you how they use the computer in the art room.  Hopefully they will get excited and show you all the new skills they are acquiring.❤️🎨

Promoting Persistance

It’s easy to jump into a project head first but about half way through you encounter obstacles that make you want to quit or start another project. It’s really important to teach kids the ability to stick to a task, even when it gets hard. It’s being able to hang in there and learn how to have some grit. It also means knowing when your stuck and learning how to shift into trying something else.  A couple of good quotes about stamina “Persistant people begin there success where others end in failure”. Or a kid favorite, “Be like a postage stamp stick to one thing until you get there”. Just today one of my little artists reminded me of the joy and power of working hard on something.  She began decorating her portfolio pocket on the first day of choice stations and she’s been working on it every time she gets a free moment in art. She finished today and she was very proud of her accomplishment. My quote about art and persistence is “the longer you work on something the more that you love it”.❤️🎨🔔

Artistic Breakthroughs

One of the most magical things about being an art teacher is that you get to see kids have artistic breakthroughs right in front of you. Just today a primary student came to me and said he felt he had forgotten how to draw. Last year he was really concentrating and trying to draw things by following simple step by step drawings.  But this year he wasn’t drawing as much, probably because we’ve been having so much fun with clay and other new materials.   Today he just needed me to reassure him and guide him towards a challenge. The magic moment happened as soon as he made it half way through the drawing. The look on his face went from frustration to sheer joy. A crowd of kids gathered around him and cheered him on.  This is such a gift to witness. ❤️🎨🔔

Slip Casting

Today the junior high students dove into the clay unit by experimenting with plaster molds.  Molds for clay are a fun tool for creating shapes or designs that could not be accomplished with the usual hand building techniques.  The process is pretty simple.  I have many different plaster molds I have collected.  Slip is just clay that is watered down.  The students pour the slip into the casts and “voila” there it is. As the unit progresses and students better understand this technique, the goal then becomes to incorporate the molds into their hand built or wheel thrown sculptures in order to create original work. ❤️🎨🔔