Monthly Mentor

Bobbi Yancey (September)
Bobbi Yancey is an Art Specialist at Lake Charles Boston Academy of Learning in Lake Charles, LA. Bobbi has also served as the Director of the Calcasieu Parish School System Summer Arts Camp for the past six years, which hosts 300 students and is administered by 20 teachers and 20-25 assistants. She earned her BA in Art Ed and BA in Visual Art from McNeese State University and graduated cum laude. She also holds an ED S (Certified K-12 Principalship and City Supervisor) from McNeese University and an MPS in Theology from Loyola University. Bobbi is also a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Middle Child Art.

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Thursday 09.11.14

Puzzled by Punk?

Need a little something extra to spice up your art curriculum? Why not try the popular artistic movement known as steampunk? If you have not heard of this unique visual feast that features imagery of nineteenth century Victorian England colliding with the industrial mechanisms, clocks, assorted machine parts, and technology of the modern world this blog is my opportunity to introduce the endless creative possibilities that are available to you. Steampunk is a science fiction, pop-culture phenomenon that engages and spans fine art, music, performance, fashion, graphic design, and the humanities. The Steam in steampunk refers to the era of steam technology that took over the 19th century. The punk invokes the idea of rebellion against the change in the landscape resulting from the Industrial Revolution. Every corner of 19th century life was affected from transportation to medicines to weaponry---more than enough to draw artistic inspiration from. The visual canvas called steampunk is filled with imagery of women in fashionable Victorian dress with parasols, lace, hand fans, birds, etc. portrayed opposite  images of industry including metal gears, time pieces, machinery and the  fantastic technology born years ago from science fiction giants such as Jules Verne and  H.G Wells. Metalwork and taxidermy merge in this movement.

As a half time consultant with our school system art department I was charged with the task of developing resources and activities for our 60 art specialists as preparation for an upcoming teacher art exhibit. Whether teachers were new to steam-punk or longtime fans I felt it would provide a canvas for an artistic adventure and spark conversation. My supervisor and I brainstormed our way to centering the exhibit on the shape and idea of Puzzles. He coined the title “Puzzled by Punk”. Each teacher was charged with the task of transforming a floor puzzle piece into a steampunk work of art. They were provided metallic sharpies, Kraft colored collage papers, embellishments of all kinds…both Victorian and Industrial. Teachers left the In-Service excited about the opportunity to transform the 14 x 18 inch wooden puzzle piece they received into a work or art. Below are a few examples of some linked puzzle pieces from the activity.

I hope that you are inspired to explore the steampunk world on your own. Your students may already know all about it…hopefully you can share this visual adventure with them.  

 

-Bobbi Yancey- Art Specialist/Consultant, Ed.S, NBCT
Lake Charles Boston Academy, Lake Charles, LA

Monday 09. 1.14

The Art of Service Learning

Because art teachers have the unique advantage of nurturing learners within the context of shared community they (YOU) provide the perfect setting for opportunities for social change that inspires and teaches students to care about each other and for others through service learning experiences.  In the case of the arts, art specialists can provide a creative community with expertise in areas that encompass all forms of artistic expression from visual to performing arts to media arts.  1

I began my career as an elementary art educator during a time when character education was emphasized to the point that our governor gave up his salary to fund character education award programs across our state.  I was a recipient of one of these monetary awards.  My “windfall” helped me to kick start a theatrical troupe of elementary “Art Angels”.  I hired a thespian/clown to teach these students the professional makeup techniques of the four types of clowns and tricks associated with the art of clowning.  This training coupled with the student’s visual art training enabled them to visit nursing homes and women and children’s shelters in our community to provide “art therapy” for the residents.  

Another public art service learning project that I spearheaded engaged artists, elementary as well as college students, non-profit agencies, volunteers from the community, and residents of the local Women and Children’s Shelter. Everyone came together to build a structure adorned with hand painted butterfly ceramic tiles. This House for Butterflies is a symbol for the victims of abuse and violence that pass through the doors of the shelter.  It demonstrates the “metamorphosis” the residents go through in their journey for healing and independence. The circular space was built in such a way that it allowed for clear passage in and out and seating for contemplation and reflection as well as plants and decorative wood houses for a variety of butterflies.2

Currently I am teaching at a high school that buses students in from throughout the school district.  Even with limited access and the rigorous demands of the secondary academic schedule, students have contributed about 200 bowls to the Salvation Army Empty Bowl project over the past two years and are planning even more this year.  Last year the Salvation Army raised approximately $10,000…each “empty” bowl represents $100.00.  

Service learning is an integral part of my curriculum.  As an art teacher I believe that my role is not only to help develop students’ creative gifts, but to encourage and guide them in sharing them.  As we embark on a new year full of promise, I hope you will consider including “Service Learning” as part of your curriculum.

-Bobbi Yancey- Art Specialist/Consultant, Ed.S, NBCT
Lake Charles Boston Academy, Lake Charles, LA

Tuesday 08.19.14

Teacher Resources

We, as teachers, are always being asked to incorporate technology in our classrooms. And as some of us know, this is not always an easy task in the art room. Therefore, my purpose for this post is to be a resource for art teachers. A tool that you can turn to when you want to try something new, discover a fresh way to uncover contemporary art, take a different approach to sharing your ideas and philosophies with students and staff, etc. Below you will find a list of some of the resources and tools I utilize on a daily basis. Look them up, try them out, and uncover what works and doesn’t work in your classroom.
•    Pinterest
•    Google Drive
•    Dropbox
•    TeachersPayTeachers.com
•    NAEA website
•    State Organization Websites
•    Facebook
•    Twitter
•    Netflix
•    Tumblr
•    YouTube
•    Art 21 Resources
•    Art Education (NAEA) journal
•    Art Education/Art blogs
•    Art for Life: Authentic Instruction in Art
•    Olivia Gude :)
•    Austin Kleon
•    Art Education for a Change by David Darts
•    Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education
•    Juxtapoz Magazine
•    Rolling Stone Magazine
•    www.artsy.com
•    www.contemporaryarted.com
•    www.visualnews.com
•    www.streetartutopia.com
•    www.core77.com
•    Street Artists
•    Flipboard App - Personal Magazine (on all devices)
•    Instagram
•    LinkedIn
•    ArtGallery App
•    ColorSnap App
•    UKIYOE App
•    Copper Relief App
•    SketchBookX App
•    Sbapix Free App
•    Geometric App
•    iMotion App
•    What The Font
•    Ted Talks

Hopefully my few suggestions get the ball rolling for you as we enter a new school year.
Happy teaching!

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Friday 08. 8.14

New School Year, New Students

As we approach the start of another school year, it is key that we take the correct approach with our students. For an art educator (or any teacher for that matter), as new students enter your room for the first time, it is the your duty to make them feel welcomed. The first week sets the tone for the entire semester. You can either be the teacher that everyone respects and loves, or you can be that “weirdo” teacher at the end of the hall. The choice is yours.

The best piece of advice that I can give you is GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS. Use the first week to connect with them on somewhat of a personal level. As I stated in the Be a ‘Real’ Teacher post, take the time to talk with each student every day. Talk about things that interest them. But most of all have fun! Take a few minutes at the start of every class to share stories. The kids will love it and you will get to know them on a completely different level.

Another extremely helpful piece of advice is to EASE THE STUDENTS INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. Don’t go at them with guns blazing…it’s the first week, not final portfolio reviews. I like to start my first two days of class with a sketch activity. I ask the students to draw things that will help me get to know them/understand them better. I grade my sketches on completion, not skill, so the students automatically begin to feel safe to explore their imagination. The first “project” I assign the students is the Post-It Note/Sharpie Challenge (which I “borrowed” from another art teacher in the local area). With this project, I provide my students with prompts such as:

• An unexpected hero
• A moment you want to remember forever
• Someone you love
• A bad habit
• What inspires you
• Etc.

The students then draw an image representing one of the topics on a Post-It Note. Once the drawing is complete, they are introduced to the Sharpie challenge. Their Post-It Note must either be at least 50% black, contain thick or thin lines, or contain some type of pattern. Once everyone in the class finishes their Post-It Notes, we assemble them into a class mural that hangs outside the art room throughout the duration of the semester.

The first week of any class can be a scary time for both the students and the teacher. I have found the key to a successful semester begins with how well you execute the first week. Use that week to set the tone for the term—exposing the students to your rules and expectations. But most importantly, get to know your kids! Let them know that your room is a safe place for them to explore their imagination.  Not only will this earn your respect with your class, but it will also lead to student success.

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Friday 08. 1.14

Be a ‘Real’ Teacher

As summer is winding down and the school year is just around the corner, I am starting to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I will be starting a job at a new school—with a different environment, a different staff, and most importantly, different students. In order to deal with this sense of anxiety, I reflected back on letters and conversations I had with the kids at my previous school, and one particularly stands out.

An 8th grade girl once told me, "Mr. Humphrey… you’re not a ‘normal’ teacher. You’re a ‘real’ teacher.  Do you know what I mean? You actually care about us, you joke around with us… you poke fun at us and we can poke fun right back at you. You not only teach us stuff about art, you teach us stuff about life and being a good person."

It is a simple, but often overlooked task. Teaching isn’t so much about the subject, but rather the relationships. Kids take away what they want from your class, and let’s be honest, the majority of your students probably won’t become fine artists; however, they will need that out of the box thinking in whatever career they choose. Most importantly, they will need that 21st century skillset the rest of their lives. So teaching isn’t so much about the memorization of a subject, and art education isn’t about training your kids to be the next Picasso or Warhol. Teaching is about providing opportunities for your students to grow into well-rounded members of society. Teaching is about being there for your students, helping them through the sad and happy times. Teaching is about being ‘real.’

It might not always be the best way (depending on your definition of best), but I always try to be ‘real’ with my students. By being ‘real,’ I mean that I tell them how it is—how the world works. I make accommodations in order to spark their interests and connect with them on a personal level. I take time to talk with every student, make eye contact with each one, and poke fun at a few of the thicker skins. I build a relationship with them in which they know nobody is perfect—including me. I do what I need to for my students. They are with me the majority of the day; therefore, it is my duty to give them the information that they need. If my students want to learn to change a flat tire, you know I am going to do what I have to in order to connect changing a flat tire to the world of art.

A wise man (and by wise man I mean my cooperating teacher during student teaching) once told me “teaching is about getting the students what they need, NOT what they want.” Sure, we all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad days; but at the end of the period, week, quarter, semester, etc., if the students walk away with the knowledge that they truthfully need, I think it is safe to say we did our jobs.

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Monday 07.28.14

Artists and Influence

Last week, Joshua Wolf Shenk wrote an article, The End of Genius, for the New York Times. In a nutshell, it discusses the idea that was propagated in the nineteenth century of the solitary artist genius. While we now know that the great artists worked alongside other artists and ran workshops with many artists, the idea of the artist genius still holds on with some. As the museum I work in has works of art by most of the major Spanish masters I want to explore the idea of artists and influence as a teaching concept in your own classroom.  

The Meadows Museum is fortunate to own three paintings by the 17th century Spanish master, Diego Velázquez. We also have six paintings by the 18th century painter Francisco de Goya. Goya was privileged as an artist to have found an appointment as a painter at the court of Madrid while he was in his 20s. Having access to the royal palaces meant he had access to the great collections that today make up the foundation of the Prado Museum.  Goya acknowledged three masters: Rembrandt, Velázquez, and nature. Goya’s study of Velázquez is clearly documented in a series of drawings he made after the great paintings by the master in the royal collections. He created the drawings with the intention of creating a series of etchings that would be reproducible and therefore make the work of Velázquez better known. Goya was influenced by a number of different artists from his time. Some scholars believe that works in his famous print series, Los Caprichos, were influenced by prints made by the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo who was also working for King Charles III in Madrid.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), Prince Balthasar Carlos as Hunter (after Velázquez), 1778-79. Red Crayon over preliminary drawing in pencil. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett (38540). Photo by Christoph Irrgang.

Velázquez was also influenced by his master Francisco Pacheco, who he trained with in Seville. He worked and met many of the major artists of his time including Peter Paul Rubens, with whom he shared a Madrid studio in 1827-28. While traveling in Italy, Velázquez met with the Spanish master Jusepe de Ribera.  The artist whose influence might be the strongest on Velázquez is the Venetian painter Titian, whose work he was able to study in depth in the Spanish royal collections. There is a distinct softening in Velázquez’s painting style after he viewed the works of Titian and other Italian masters.

I mention all this to say that art is about influence, and invention is really born through what is learned and adapted from others.  While I am sure that we often encourage students to copy after other artists, we do not do enough to encourage the kind of sharing and building, and, in some cases, freely stealing in order to invent and create something new, as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque often did.  I say this also as an artist myself who often will take what close artist friends are doing in their work and try it out in my own. Of course there are times when something I make reminds me too much of someone else’s work. However, after a while, artists will assimilate what really works for them and it becomes their own again. I hope you will take the opportunity to discuss the idea of artists and their influences with your students and come up with unique ways to get them to look at art and find what really inspires them. 

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Wednesday 07.16.14

Strategies for Facilitating a Conversation about a Work of Art

We all know that how we interface with each museum is a little different. Most often students interact in a gallery experience with a volunteer or possibly a paid gallery teacher. The teacher in the museum experience will most likely provide information about a set of objects, sometimes through questioning strategies, or possibly activities. While for many years, educators in museums crafted questions to investigate a work of art, today many in the art museum education field approach teaching with works of art through a facilitated discussion. In this entry I will discuss some ways to begin thinking about opening up the conversation and making a level playing field for talking about a work of art in your classroom.

You will want to select the work of art that will be discussed. It should be a work that you are familiar with and know a good bit about. A work I often use for this purpose in my own museum is Juan Carreño de Miranda’s Portrait of King Charles II, ca. 1675.

  Juan Carreño de Miranda (1614-1685)
Portrait of King Charles II, c. 1675
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase Thanks to a Gift from Jo Ann Geurin Thetford in Honor of her Sons, Garrett and Wyatt Pettus. MM.2010.02
Meadows Museum

Begin by giving students time to examine the artwork in silence. It may seem like a long time, but give them about three minutes. After a minute or so they will most likely give you a questioning look, but direct your attention to the work of art and generally they will also.

Following looking time, if you think you might have difficulty getting students to talk about the work ask them to turn to someone close by and discuss something they noticed in the work, or something they have a question about. Give students about five to seven minutes to discuss with their partners, or wait until the discussion dies down and then invite the group to share what they were discussing about the work. This is a great ice breaker for warming up the group for discussion.

When students give observations about the work respond by paraphrasing what they have said back to the whole group - such as in the case of the Portrait of King Charles II, students often say, “I noticed a young girl dressed in black in an elaborate setting, and I want to know what she is holding in her hand.” A good response to this is “You noticed that there is a young girl who is wearing all black and standing in a richly decorated space, and you have a question about what she is holding in her hand.” Rather than offering an answer to the question this poses the question back out to the group. Also this type of response validates the student’s observations by not correcting about the gender of the individual in the painting. Generally, the group will begin to question whether the sitter is a boy or a girl, and will begin to notice other features about the person in the portrait.

Continue to allow for student responses, and make paraphrasing a habit in how you respond to their observations.  Paraphrasing is key to the process because it requires the facilitator to listen and process what an individual says. It validates the response and allows for clarification of what was said for the entire group.  

Avoid responding to students with phrases like, “That is a good observation!” or “I am so glad you noticed that.” Responses like these set up the idea that you are looking for a correct answer.  

When opening up the conversation about the work give a good bit of time to listening and paraphrasing before introducing content. When students begin to make observations that lead to an interpretation of the work of art, then you can begin to provide information that is relevant to the observation. For example, in relation to the Portrait of King Charles II, once they have established through their own observations that he is a person of importance, some often speculate that he may be a prince or a king. Once the idea is brought up by someone in the group it is fitting to introduce that he is in fact the last Spanish Hapsburg King and that the letter in his hand is a paper of authority and symbolizes his administrative duties.

Don’t feel like you have to tell them everything you know about the work. Only provide information that is relevant to the observations made by the group.

Allowing for an open discussion about a work of art as a group will result in rich and interesting ideas to explore with your students. Introducing class discussions of works of art will also help to spark ideas in your students’ own art making. 

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 07. 8.14

Visiting the University or College Museum or Art Gallery

For much of my career I have worked at large museums that see a high volume of K-12 students through their doors each year. For the past seven years, I have worked at a small university art museum, the Meadows Museum, located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU). The campus is positioned about five miles from downtown Dallas where the arts district is located which includes a group of art museums and numerous performing arts venues. I often find myself making the case for visiting the Meadows and SMU. I thought I could use this forum to speak to the benefits of visiting your local university or college’s museum or art gallery.

There is a range of different types of museums and art galleries to be found on university and college campuses. Many have smaller gallery spaces that are used to showcase student work and/or contemporary art exhibitions. Some larger universities have accumulated extensive encyclopedic art collections. Others, like the Meadows Museum, house more intimate and focused collections, in our case, Spanish art spanning primarily from the fifteenth-century to the present. In addition, most of these museums or galleries have changing exhibitions on a range of art topics that can be useful in engaging your students in discussion and activities with real works of art.  

One of the best arguments towards visiting an academic art museum or gallery is that you can pair your visit to learn about and view real works of art with a campus tour to introduce students to a university/college setting. Ideally this works best for secondary students, as most universities or colleges are prepared to provide tours for high school students, but there are also opportunities for middle school and elementary students on a college campus as well. I am fortunate to run a grant funded program that brings high school students from a local district to the campus to visit the Meadows Museum and then to tour the Meadows School of the Arts here at SMU. At times, when there is a specific art discipline being engaged, we can customize the tour so that students can visit the print lab or ceramics shop, or visit student studio spaces. We have also had opportunities to engage with performances with other arts disciplines with groups visiting the campus. Other times we introduce students to a broader campus tour, where they can see where students live as well as see the different academic areas that the university specializes in. It is always good to keep in mind that not all students in the art class will pursue a degree in the arts.

Students observing a demonstration of the intaglio print process at Meadows School of the Arts, SMU

Do keep in mind that when touring discipline specific schools on a university campus sometimes smaller groups are preferred, while a more general campus tour can often accommodate larger groups.  This is also true when visiting special collections (most often housed in libraries) on the university campus.  You can often schedule an opportunity for smaller groups to see rare manuscripts, maps and drawings. At the Meadows Museum, appointments to see rare prints held in the collection can be made for smaller groups. This makes a portion of the collection that is not usually accessible available for viewing. 

Students examine prints by Francisco de Goya in the Meadows Museum  

Often a trip to a local university or college campus to explore art and introduce the academic setting can be a customized experience for you and your students. It is worth looking into the opportunities afforded by recruitment through the university and the specific colleges or schools on campus. See what is being offered at your local university museum or art gallery and see where there seem to be natural connections with what you are already teaching in the classroom. The most valuable selling point I have learned through working with teachers at an academic art museum is when seeking approval from administrators for a visit away from school, the combined visit to an art museum at a university or college isn’t hard to sell.  
 
-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 07. 1.14

Making the Most of an Art Museum Visit

Although I have spent twenty-plus years working as a museum educator in art museums, I was trained as a K-12 art educator. This has led my work in museums to be dedicated to working with K-12 audiences, writing curriculum and teaching a range of ages in diverse museum settings. K-12 teachers and their students are one of the most important audiences for museums. A great deal of attention and effort is made by most museums to reach K-12 teachers, and often there are groups of teachers who utilize a museum and its workshop offerings for teachers, taking full advantage of the resources provided. 

Over the course of this month’s NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog, I will be writing about ways to make your trips with students to museums insightful and engaging. While I know many of you probably already take your students to museums and may already engage some of the ideas and themes I will discuss, I hope this might be an opportunity to inspire you to think differently about how you utilize the museum experience in your classroom teaching.

In this entry, I will not be discussing logistics of field trip planning, but more of how to begin to get to know your local museum and how you can go about incorporating the museum experience as part of your curriculum.

If you haven’t already, go to your nearest gallery, museum, or arts center and find out what programs they are offering. If you are in a larger metropolitan area, most museums, as I have mentioned, have staff dedicated to school and teacher programs.  They often provide materials at the beginning of each school year that list upcoming exhibitions and programs for teachers that can engage your own personal learning about art and aspects of their exhibitions and permanent collection. Teacher training in museums is most often focused on you as an adult learner and not just you as a teacher. These programs are valuable for your own personal engagement and rejuvenation with real works of art. In addition to the opportunity to slow down and think in a different way outside of the classroom context, museums most often provide curricular materials or activities, along with images for your use in teaching back at school. One of the most valuable aspects of teacher trainings in museums is the shared learning experience with other educators, and sometimes from different discipline areas. Most teacher training programs offer the opportunity for idea sharing amongst teachers, and I feel it is one of the best ways to get new ideas for use in your teaching.

If it is not possible to attend workshop offerings, try to speak to someone on staff in the education department of the museum. Usually there is a dedicated person who works specifically with teacher audiences and they can often refer you to areas of their collection that might best fit your curricular needs. They will also be able to guide you to curricular materials and image resources that can be useful in introducing the art museum to students.

The most important aspect of preparing your students for a visit to the museum is building excitement and interest before the trip. Make sure you introduce something from the collection or some aspect of the museum before they visit. This could be done quickly by simply showing a few images and letting them know what they might be seeing, or actually assigning them a work of art from the collection to research before the visit. Each time I have had the opportunity of working with a class where students have some prior knowledge or engagement with the works of art they are going to see in person the experience for them (and for me as a museum educator) is completely transformed. This builds ownership and interest in the object before they see the real thing. This approach provides a whole new aspect to the dialogue with the object, comparing expectations from what was viewed in reproduction and what was learned before the visit, to how the object looks in person, and what about the object is revealed by examining the real thing.

The engagement with real works of art is one of the most important opportunities provided when visiting museums. It was in fact a high school field trip with an art class that ignited my interest in art and led the way to a career of working in the arts.       

-Scott Winterrowd, Curator of Education, Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University

Tuesday 06.17.14

Planned Procedures

As we head into the new school year it is important to think about our expectations. Not only do we have expectations of the art they will make but we expect students to follow our class procedures.

To begin with class procedures, an art teacher needs to realize that what works for one teacher might not work for them and that is okay. There are several areas of procedures that a new teacher should plan out for the beginning of the year. With that being said, I still reflect each year on what was successful and what needs to change.  I also think about what I was able to sustain throughout the school year and where I became too relaxed with procedures.  Every year, I spend the first day of art talking to each class about procedures. I found that as the day went on I was finished earlier and earlier. I don’t know if I talked faster or I just started cutting stuff out because I was forgetting things. I created a Prezi last year to help me keep track of everything I wanted to say and it helped with keeping the students’ attention. Here is the link to my presentation: First Day Prezi

Entering your classroom – I have my elementary students enter, sit in their assigned seat and be focused to the lesson and instructions for the day. I start right away as I know I will only have their attention for so long.  When I taught middle and high school students, students entering the room early in the passing time were able to get supplies and their artwork but when the bell rang, everyone needed to be seat and ready to participate in the lesson. 

Student seats – Assigned seats definitely helps with learning students names. For elementary, I have eight tables paired together. I have assigned the tables a color by placing a colored supply tray on each table (plastic silverware trays from a dollar store spray painted). In placing the colors, I matched them up as complimentary colors. Red and Green tables are together, Purple and Yellow tables are together, etc.  I even use black and white.  There are many ways to label tables such as by artist or shapes. For seating arrangements, I make it simple for myself, the first four students listed on the roster sit at the first table (red), the second four students sit at the next table (green) and so forth. I do change some students’ seats as there might be a boy surrounded by girls or vice versa. Younger students seem to have a problem with it but older students usually don’t mind. I do change seats for students that are not working well at that table (off task or bothering others).  

Teaching your lesson – In your lesson plan you will have a plan on how you will execute each lesson: demonstration, whiteboard, or technology presentation. In my district we have a requirement that we elicit 100 percent participation. It is essential to start the year being very strict about when you are speaking-the students do not. If you do not require this at the beginning then it will be very frustrating and will only get worse throughout the year.  The old saying, Don’t Smile Until Christmas, doesn’t REALLY mean you can’t smile but there is wisdom in keeping a strong commitment to your high expectations on how students should conduct themselves in your room.

Getting and keeping their attention – For the little ones, I do use the ‘Mona-Lisa’ response. I will say, ‘Mona’ and the students will respond with ‘Lisa’. I found it last year on Pinterest and it works every time. Each of our classrooms uses some type of Whole Brain response and my students think it is pretty cool that I use an art one for them. Students have their lips closed, hand still and eyes are on me while I am talking.  If I see that my younger students are getting squirmy while I am talking I find that when I change to an English, Southern, or ‘Pirate’ accent they love it and want to hear more. I get to keep teaching and they are listening- works for me!  

Getting artwork – I have students get their own artwork from the drying rack or storage area for artwork expect for kindergarten to third grade.  In grades 4th through 12th they are mature enough to handle this aspect if they are doing it in some groups. Instructing the whole class in general to go their work will create an unsafe pileup at the drying rack or cabinet. I have done this!  I see disaster ahead so I say, ‘STOP, my fault, everyone sit back down so we can try this again’. There is nothing wrong with stopping and redirecting when you see something is not working. What I find that works it having small groups at a time get their artwork, supplies or even be dismissed. This can be done by table, gender, what color they are wearing, the list goes on and you can have fun with it.    

Getting supplies – I only have pencils and erasers on the table. I find that if I have items such as scissors and glue out as well, they become items to play with while I am teaching.  As supplies are needed, students will get them and put them in the trays for the class.  I have jobs for each seat at each table.  This is the area that I do relax on and I shouldn’t because the elementary students like having an important ‘job’. 

Clean up and exiting – In addition to entering, students need a safe and controlled procedure to exiting your classroom.  The end of class procedure should allow time for cleanup. It is hard at first to be tied to the clock but you must allow enough time for the students to have the room ready to go for the next. Then students can sit in seats and wait to be dismissed by table. This will ensure that you are able to see the room and ensure artwork, supplies and materials are properly put away and ready for the next class.  You don’t have time between classes cleaning tables and tools, putting away artwork, or organizing materials. I am a stickler about ‘If you get it out-You put it away’ and ‘You can be as messy as you need to be- But...you will need to clean it up before you are dismissed’.  Don’t short change yourself on cleanup time. Students can be amazing artists but they are still capable of taking responsibility for the supplies and tools in the art room at every grade level, kindergarten through high school, and it will make your job easier as you have enough other things to get accomplished.   

Have a plan, try it out, make adjustments and enjoy a little less stress throughout the year by having solid procedures for your classroom.

-Connie Ferguson, M.ED, NBCT