One of our readers asked if I would post resources for the art teachers in her state, which I am happy to do. I sometimes forget that not all art teachers have had the opportunity to find resources to help them effectively teach their children with disabilities. I know that I learned by trial and error – mostly error – only to find that new found strategy is a failure the following week. So one tries again. As I pointed out in the first blog, coming together to share stories, challenges and celebrate successes, no matter how small, is very important for us as art educators in order to sustain our energy and optimism.
I encourage you to seek out conferences and workshops in your area that brings together teachers to talk to one another. And if you can’t find any – start one. All you need is a room (coffee shop) and one other person – this is a beginning. When news gets out that you are finding success through collaboration you will have to take over the entire coffee shop. We have an Art & Special Education Symposium each year in November and each year it is met with rave reviews. And the secret is simply that we bring together people interested in the education of children with special needs, we listen to those with experience and expertise and then we talked to each other. We each bring our own bit of wisdom to the table. Oh – and whining is not allowed – finding possible solutions is. This success led to a Mini-posium in March where we listen to art teachers who share successful art lessons and then we make exemplars so we could hit our art rooms with exciting lessons on Monday.
The Special Needs Art Education (SNAE) Issues Group website is full of resources. Check it out. Look under links and resources. And while you are there, think about joining our Issues Group.
Reaching and Teaching Students with Special Needs through Art edited by Gerber and Guay, and Understanding Students with Autism through Art edited by Gerber and Kellman, both published by NAEA, are loaded with great ideas.
In addition, professional papers written by experts in the field can be located here. The second and third titles listed are full of very readable articles from Adapting Art through The Importance of Collaboration in Art Classrooms.
-Lynne Horoschak | Distinguished Professor
Program Manager of MA in Art Education
Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia