Student Teacher Blog
All of my middle schoolers are given chrome-books at the beginning of each school year and want to be on them every chance that they get…
So I decided what better way to take advantage of that than creating a digital finished early folder on schoology! Some of the links I added to the folder are: Bomomo Digital Art Game, Google Quick Draw, and Graffiti Street Art.
My students loved playing on Bomomo!
This was one of the most fulfilling and challenging parts of student teaching. I was fortunate to have the help of a dedicated student, and without her I would not have enjoyed coordinating this. It was held in the back part of the library, and I was able to reserve a room for the whole day. There were things I did well, and things I know now I need to improve for my next student show.
What I did well was respecting my student aid’s time. This is due to her demanding schedule, more intense than my own with upwards of three AP classes. With any unpaid help, I want to make sure the bulk of their help is beneficial and educational for them. I tend to take on more of the ‘grunt work’ such as emailing parents, moving the art, getting snacks, and cleaning up. That being said, she was helpful with these as well, and went above and beyond blocking out time for the show, working on weekends, and staying for the duration of the exhibition.
What I need to improve on is timing. I am typically not a procrastinator, but while student teaching my timing suffered. It seemed I was nose to the grind, I looked up and time had closed in one me. Next time I plan on creating a table, and setting hard deadlines for myself.
Hanging the work was enjoyable. I got to employ my gallery internship skills, and create an interesting flow of work. By matting some work, and hanging prints with binder clips, I had to make artistic decisions. I drew on shows I had seen, and enjoyed the format. I felt it was important to also provide information for the projects. This was both for the conceptual part, and technical processes. For one project I had student groups write their artist statement, and stressed the importance of providing the viewer with context.
The day of the show was so fulfilling. This was because having students show up with their friends and family, mingling, and pointing out their work made me so proud. Seeing all the work together showed me how much I had coordinated. I was proud of myself, thinking “I pulled it off. Look at all this. They did a great job”. I will take what I learned from this experience. I am planning to put a student show on at the end of my long term sub position next semester. The librarians were helpful and excited for the work, and it brings visibility, and greater support for the arts.
It takes time to develop relationships with students, especially students who may have a lot of stuff going on which manifests as behavior issues. Unfortunately with student teaching I don’t have a lot of time. I had an easier time with my Art II students. They appeared more invested in the projects, but on closer examination the bulk of my Art I students were as well. The difference is the Art II students have mostly had prior experiences with art, materials at home to use, and the class sizes are smaller. I had many dedicated students in Art I, but a handful of students in each section of these classes created such distractions I was unable to develop close relationships with anyone in these classes.
I am looking forward to having my own classroom, and the opportunity to be with students for the school year. An example, I observed my cooperating teacher with one student I absolutely did not get along with. Whenever I talked to him he responded dismissively or confrontationally. He did little work, came in late, and often had peers do his work for him. My cooperating teacher had a great relationship with him. She knew how to push his buttons in a way that both made him laugh, and get to work. She also knew what to say and not say, and how to engage him one on one. I tried to do this in the beginning, but he was not having it. I can see from this experience and my other classes, it takes a lot of time and dedication to field situations like this.
Additionally, I need to set some hard cellphone boundaries. I would occasionally say ‘get off your phone’, but not follow up. In my next classroom, from the start, I need to lay that down, and stick to it. This is not just with cell phones. I understand now the importance of developing a classroom culture from the start, and ideally I would like to spend a few class periods on this. This goes both ways, student and teacher. Any rules I set for them, I need to follow myself. No cell phones for them, no cell phones for me! No peeking! I look forward and am scared for my upcoming job, and the opportunity to implement what I learned in student teaching.
I love teaching technique, especially printmaking. I was lucky to have access to an ample budget, and a printing press at my secondary placement. I had prior experience teaching printmaking to small groups in summer camps, but I found I learned so much about teaching technique during my printmaking unit. Listed below are five things I learned about teaching technique.
- After the first lesson you will change the sequencing
I would plan out my lessons step by step in my planning, but after the first period I would have to go back in and redo many of the steps. This is because the sequencing of what I introduced changed. Students asked questions which led me to adjustments, and transferring written to practiced lessons showed me what made sense/what did not.
Some students fly through projects. Some students could work on one project for an entire semester. It was a balancing act between setting hard deadlines, while being flexible and understanding for students who needed more time. For example, the collagraph unit took students two weeks, while the reductive carving unit took about four class periods. Some technical steps will be harder for students to achieve, partially due to if they have had prior experience.
- Make no assumptions: Explain everything as if it is the first time
The biggest challenge for me was starting from square one, especially for processes I’m familiar with. What do you mean you don’t know what a brayer is? Don’t print it on paper the plate, are you not thinking? Stop asking me where everything is! This is silly. Most students will not be familiar with more specialized art making processes. Make no assumptions. This also helped me really understand the technical process deeper. It is one thing to know them in my head, another to explain them to others.
I learned I cannot throw too much in one class. It’s too much to remember. I also need to be keenly aware of accommodations, and plan extra time, additional handouts, and more one on one instruction for some students.
- Provide handouts & visual aids
Handouts were key. The board was hard to see, and expo markers died shortly. These visual aids proved valuable to field questions so I wasn’t fielding the same question over and over. Additionally, people learn differently. I found a lot of students are visual learners, needing to watch me step by step, and then have those steps illustrated in front of them.
My IB Art 10 class had the daunting task of creating their own symbol for a moral that they uphold in their life. I wanted to specifically assign this project because these students are in the International Baccalaureate middle years program. This program requires students to complete a rigorous workload that focuses on creating students who are multi-faceted learners.
The program itself often asks students to think “outside the box” for their many project assignments, so I decided to apply this aspect of learning in my classroom.
After sketching out a couple of different symbols that they could potentially use for their projects, the students participated in a class discussion of their ideas, and offered feedback on their ideas. They used this input to make any necessary changes to their sketches before finalizing a design. Once their symbols were finalized and clearly drawn, the students moved into the project creation. They were given a short demonstration of how to transfer an image onto fabric, and followed along with a video to learn four basic hand stitches.
The projects themselves remain to be finished (embroidery takes a lot of time!!), so I selected a few that were on their way to being a finished patch!
THE RELATABLE DEGRADABLES
At my 2nd placement, I decided to do another unit that focused on environmental awareness. For the last seven weeks, my 8th graders have been learning how art can function as a tool for environmental awareness through experimental exploration with biodegradable and non-biodegradable objects. We started off the unit by discussing the Trash Mountain in New Delhi India, photo-journalism by Ake Ericson, and other ways we might find non-biodegradable objects negatively impacting our environment. After a few class challenges, my students were required to choose one biodegradable and non-biodegradable object from their brainstorm to sketch. After they finished, they were asked to combine their sketches to create a sculpture, decide which parts would be made from (a) papier-mache (b) clay and how they planned to put them together.
We began the first large portion of our project by discussing how we can use a material, like clay, from the earth to make our own art and how we can use slab, coiling, and pinch-pot methods to build our clay structures.
While our clay structures were firing, we began to work on our papier-mache sculptures and learned about how we can repurpose paper and non-bio-degradable objects like plastic to up-cycle in the art room. We started by creating our structures with cardboard and recycled materials. Before starting the paper-pulp mache portion I decided to check back in and review some of the content we have discussed. I began by throwing a few pens and paper clips into my blender to demonstrate how non-biodegradable objects have a harder time decomposing and asked my students if they thought these items would create a smoothie or break my blender (I did this for just a few seconds so the only thing breaking would actually be the pens). Then I showed my students how to make paper pulp using thrown away paper and a blender… They couldn’t believe it!
For this lesson, I decided to prep multiple colors of pulp in bowls for the students to choose from and although it was a lot of fun in the making, in the future I would definitely make one color and let the students paint them after. When students needed a break or finished early, I left supplies on the counter for them to create their own pulp. They blew me away with their teamwork!
Eventually, it was time for glazing our clay projects. I showed the students a process of glazing using salt, coffee, tea, and corn syrup. They thought it was disgusting… However, the chemical reaction between the salt and acidity of the coffee/tea did not work on every project.
This called for a great conversation about how sometimes in the art-making process things don’t go as planned. So we improvised by painting our clay with liquid watercolor, acrylics, and then assembled our sculptures!
Working in abstraction with my Art I students has yielded some amazing artwork! They were very open to the concept that abstraction indicates a departure from reality, despite the artwork originating from reality as inspiration. For this project, we used a photographic reference to create an abstract painting with watercolor and pen. An image – in our case a photograph of something recognizable or realistic – started out as an influence, but we abstracted the image through various composition techniques. We went on a nature walk with our phones/cameras to photograph interesting compositions and use nature as a jumping off point for abstraction. Students were given the choice to use photographs from the nature walk or to take a photographic of something meaningful to them. We discussed the different ways images can be abstracted through techniques such as cropping, magnifying, color choice, and others. During the self-reflection at the end, students commented on enjoying the freedom and choice involved with this project and I love how each student’s work is unique.
Student trying different techniques with a variety of brushes and paints
Example of a finished piece.
I was very excited to introduce weaving to my middle schoolers! We talked a lot about the rich history and practice of weaving, looking at representations of figures weaving in artwork from Ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages in Germany, 19th century Japan, and the American Southwest. We also considered the role weaving plays in stories such as The Odyssey. We practiced weaving on paper plates, and in the meantime created our organic-shaped clay looms. By the time the looms were glazed and fired, my students were weaving pros and were ready to roll! We had to troubleshoot a few things like holes closing up during the firing process, but my students were engaged and persistent with what was a new technique for many of them.
Working with students as they created their clay looms.
Freshly glazed looms!
To go along with the acrylic still-life paintings they are working on in class, the sophomores are doing a pop-art style acrylic portrait as a home project. Their in-class project is a still-life using objects to conceptually represent a person important to them. Their home project prompt then is a literal portrait of a person of their choice in the pop-art style, using color, pattern, style, etc. to represent the person. I showed the students examples of work from pop-artists including Romero Britto, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, Julian Opie, and Roy Lichtenstein.
The students responded positively to the project and seemed excited about it. Their home projects are a requirement and have predetermined due dates, so I will not be there to see most of their final works, but this fabulous portrait of Rihanna and plan for a portrait of another student’s favorite book character get to hang in the student art show!