Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
“The artist confronts chaos. The whole thing of art is, how do you organize chaos?” — Romare Bearden
Time flies when you are having fun and before you know it, summer is over and it’s time to go back to school. Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had time to relax, make art, look at art, and do some reflecting of the past school year.
If you are like me, you love what you do and you are excited to go back to school. I can’t think of a better job to have. I go to school, share my knowledge, make some art (OK —examples for students) AND I get paid. Now it’s time to get down to business and organize the year ahead. Here are some great tips to get this year off to a great start.
Know Your Students. No matter what grade level you teach (even if you are teaching 1,650 elementary kids like I did one year), get to know your students. Try to address each by name and be respectful to each student. This can be a difficult task but make a seating chart and after a few weeks, or months, you will get to know their names fairly-well.
You also want to make sure you get to know them in a more social way. Understanding and knowing your students’ backgrounds and what motivates them will make your classroom a more inviting environment. Planning your lessons around what your students can relate to will help the students become more interested and active in your class.
EASE FIRST-LESSON FEARS. Some students feel intimated at the beginning of the school year. Many students might feel like they do not draw well, some are shy, and some are just plain scared. One great way to start off the school year is to have the students collage a picture of something they like; pets, the beach, food, self-portraits, flags from their country of origin, flowers, or a collage based on the works of Romare Bearden. Collage can be a non-threatening first project, especially if you tell the students it doesn’t have to be realistic.
Art RULES!! Just as important as getting to know your students is making them aware of the rules and expectations in the art room. For the older students, have them create rules and expectations that they think are reasonable, of course you make the final decision, but making them a part of the decision will hold them accountable for their actions.
Make sure you discuss the consequences as well. If you are a new teacher, see if your school already has school wide expectation or behavior plan in place.
Plan Backward. What are you trying to teach and why? When planning lessons, a good place to start is to ask yourself why are you teaching what you are teaching? Is it just a cool project you saw, is it filler, or does it really relate to something that you want your students to learn? Start by thinking about the end result; what are the goals of the lesson?
Make the lesson a whole experience for your students. Make sure they understand what they are learning and why. Do some research about backward design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) and learn ways to enhance your lesson plans and enrich your lessons.
Hooking your students is the first step. For example, if you are teaching about the color wheel, explain the lesson to your students as if they were interviewing for a job with a major paint company. They would need to do research and give examples of how the paint can be used (hence, the actual lesson plan).
When you wish upon a star … A great idea is to have a website. On my site I have “wish list” page and write things that I need in the art room: copy paper, zip-lock bags and plastic containers, to name a few.
I use a lot of printer ink and, since it is quite expensive, I ask for empty cartridges. Many office supply stores let you recycle 10 a month and you will get cash coupons that can be used to purchase anything in the store. Another great place to ask for classroom necessities is your PTA/PTO. It never hurts to ask.
Happy Birthday to Romare Bearden (Sept. 2, 1911), Oskar Schlemmer (Sept. 4, 1888), Robert Indiana (Sept. 13, 1928), Suzanne Valadon (Sept. 23, 1865), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Sept. 29, 1571).
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
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