Monthly Mentor

Sandra (Sandy) Cress (February)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Cress is in her third year of teaching in public schools and is currently an art educator in a rural K-8 school in West Virginia. She has been a member of NAEA since she was a student in college and has served as treasurer on the West Virginia Art Education Association Board of Directors since 2012. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Wednesday 02.20.19

Limerick Painted

By Sandra Cress

Although my first blog was a limerick, I am NOT a poet. The limerick was a cold-challenge to myself to make an introduction to this group of creative, open-minded thinkers.

In the event my novice poetry isn't as successful as I thought it was when I posted it, I will explain it.


She’s an art teacher named Sandy Cress

This line is not just a statement that Captain Obvious might make, it’s also there to let you know that I am not a poet; that I don’t even rank as a novice poet.


She has a small classroom that’s quite a mess.
She teaches K- Eight
It must be her fate
for it slathers her palette with happiness.

With these lines, I wanted to let you know that, no matter how much I struggle with trying to make it otherwise, my space is perpetually cluttered and messy with an ever-evolving inventory of my own and other peoples trash.

My yogurt cups are a staple receptacle used for paint, crayons, pencil sharpener shavings, dead marker body parts, and approximately, 1,083 other items.

Eighty percent of my art supplies were trash in their recently departed previous life. And it sometimes gets mistaken for what it was in its previous life by other staff, substitute custodians, and new students!

My mess issue is caused by a perpetual battle between my intellect and conscience. Although my intellect loudly disagrees my conscience feels that it must help solve the worlds waste problem by reusing or reinventing the trash of every single human and business that I come in contact with.

It’s kind of like this common issue that many of us have had. You know when you tell someone that you like something like:

hats or

matchbooks or

shot glasses or

things with chickens printed on it

or real chickens

and then everyone who knows and loves you, including your students and colleagues, starts collecting these items (or animals) for you and you aren’t able to tell them that you do like them but you really don’t want anymore.  And you waited too long and if you tell them now you are afraid they will feel bad. Then your house is so engorged with the items (or animals) that your house is the “poster child” for a reality show called “People Who Only Look Like Hoarders, But Just Have Lots of Wonderful Friends Who Like to Give.”

Yes. It’s like that, except:

  1. It’s your art room, not your house.
  2. At school your donor base is exponentially multiplied because they include your colleagues and students and all of their parents, friend’s grandparents, friends, and friends of friends of each who are within driving distance.
  3. This is trash, not trinkets and you refuse to let it go into the landfill without taking heroic measures to divert it from that “ending”.


Cross-Curricular Addition:

We shall explain HOW X, which EQUALS A Classroom That's Quite A Mess, came to be:

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 9.27.59 PM

Although, I am only in my second year of teaching K-8, I have never felt so at home as I do with these students and the team that I work with.

I don’t know if it is fate, luck, destiny, chance, good timing or consequence. It may be all of those, but only “fate” rhymes with “eight”, so fate does it make.


She teaches K- Eight
It must be her fate
for it slathers her palette with happiness.

While long seeking out her career,
She tried electrician, welder and cashier
She’s older, wrinklier and wiser.
And now she’s lead creative advisor
on how to invent like Di Vinci and paint like Vermeer.


I was a first generation college student who went to college right out of high school for only one semester and dropped out. I never learned how to study and that made my core classes impossible to pass. I could have made it, but I never learned to ask for help.

In the 10 years between when I dropped out as a freshman and went back to college, I learned to do a lot of really cool things. I switched jobs a lot because once I felt like there was nothing more there for me to learn, my co-workers were hard to work with, or there was no advancement possible, I would seek out something new to learn.

I am nearly twice the age of some of my colleagues and they have the same amount of career time logged, and I also have a wiser approach to many life skills that help me to be an enriching teacher.


She’s good at collecting art materials
Like boxes that once were for cereals
With this the kids will innovate
While using said trash to create
A sculptural gadget that may grip, grind or peel.

Much science is used in her Art Lab
Where risks and mistakes are encouraged


My childhood of poverty caused me to become inventive and creative. Although, I do not claim to be near his realm of being genius, I can relate to his insatiable desire to learn, figure out, invent, and create.

My eco conscience and awareness of the impact of the ripple that I make drives me to practice and maintain the awareness of environmental, social, and emotional health. This practice becomes a part of my classroom environment and my lessons.

I have a child-like love of and excitement for learning and it shows in my teaching and wears off on my students.

I wear a white Lab coat because my art room feels like an art LAB. We are constantly having spontaneous opportunities experiment with trash. And even when are outcome isn’t one that we really wanted we still end with a positive outcome, because my students have embraced the consequences that come with taking a challenge.

She experimented with a professional bio        
With rhythm, cadence and rhymo.
It’s light and its fun, and it’s how she keeps her kids from being discouraged.


This unusual bio is me following a self-challenge to write a limerick as a bio. A limerick is fun, can be rhythmic, and quirky; they can deliver a heavy message, while creating a light. They can use the humor and fun to deliver and make a heavy message more bearable. And that is what I try to do in my classroom. I try to make learning happen while being enjoyable. Which causes kids to be drawn into the fun before they even realize that they are accomplishing things they didn’t think they could do.

Now that it is explained a critique is necessary.

Do you have a favorite critique format that you like to use? If so, try using it on the poem and share the results in the comments.


Monday 02. 4.19

She’s an art teacher...

By Sandra Cress

She’s an art teacher named Sandy Cress
She has a small classroom that’s quite a mess.
She teaches K- Eight
It must be her fate
for it slathers her palette with happiness.

While long seeking out her career,
She tried electrician, welder and cashier
She’s older, wrinklier and wiser.
And now she’s lead creative advisor
on how to invent like Di Vinci and paint like Vermeer.

She’s good at collecting art materials
Like boxes that once were for cereals
With this the kids will innovate
While using said trash to create
A sculptural gadget that may grip, grind or peel.

Much science is used in her Art Lab
Where risks and mistakes are encouraged
She experimented with a professional bio        
With rhythm, cadence and rhymo.
It’s light and its fun, and it’s how she keeps her kids from being discouraged.

- SC

Wednesday 01.30.19

Being Renewed in Play

By Brooke Hofsess

Thank you for the opportunity to share my inklings and imaginings with you this month as the NAEA Monthly Mentor. My gratitude extends to NAEA’s Web and Communications Design Manager
, Heather Rose, for working with me on all the logistics and details: Thanks, Heather! This will be my final post for the month, and where I dig into some of the politics that limit what we might imagine as renewal in our professional learning, and offer play as an alternative possibility.

Through my research, my attention has been pointed to many, many obstacles to renewal for artist-teachers: lack of resources, isolation, time constraints, a need for content-driven professional development that focuses on visual art, and the current focus on standardized outcomes in learning, and therefore, in professional learning (see, Conway, Hibbard, Albert, & Hourigan, 2005; Gates, 2010; Hourigan, 2011; Jeffers, 1996; Lind, 2012; Macintyre Latta & Kim, 2010; Mantas & Di Rezze, 2011; Sabol, 2006; Scheib, 2006; Thompson, 1986; Upitis, 2005). Other findings demonstrate that many art educators find it frustrating to apply high-quality professional learning in “a system that isolated them from other teachers; a system that didn’t allow them the time to think deeply about their practice or plan detailed lessons” (Lind, 2012, p. 15). 

In other words, for artist-teachers there is often little space in which to flow, become immersed, wonder, think deeply alone or with others, and engage with art and artmaking.

Given all of this, I have come to believe that to play as an artist-teacher is to resist standardization with fierce ontological traction-- meaning that when we play, we embody resistance to the challenges I named above.

Play is a powerful tool for our renewal-- a tool that has challenged me to try all kinds of new creative practices: handmade paper sculpture, letterpress printing, alternative photography, even performance art.

If you could choose one way to play, to be an explorer of something completely new to you-- what would it be?

Whatever comes to mind, I hope you might engage with it-- and that it brings you into renewal.

To close, I leave you with the words of one of the most inspiring scholars I have had the pleasure of learning from-- educational philosopher Maxine Greene (2001):

We see ourselves in partnership when we think of educational renewal, but our part has to do with mystery and possibility, with loving questions that are unanswerable, with probing depths that are no longer closed. Our contribution to reform may be a suggestion for catching more frequent glimpses of the half-moon, more frequent movements with flamenco dancers, more heart-stopping dialogue with those that find themselves on stage. It is immeasurable, but it may signify a necessary professional development; it may be named ‘possibility’. (p. 132)

- BH



Conway, C. M., Hibbard, S., Albert, D., & Hourigan, R. (2005). Professional development for arts teachers. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(1), 3-9.

Gates, L. (2010). Professional development through collaborative inquiry for an art education archipelago. Studies in Art Education, 52(1), 6-17.

Greene, M. (2001). Variations on a blue guitar: The Lincoln Center Institute lectures on aesthetic education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Hourigan, R. (2011). Race to the top: Implications for professional development in arts education, Arts Education Policy Review, 112(2), 60-64.           

Jeffers, C. (1996). Professional development in art education today: A survey of Kansas art teachers, Studies in Art Education, 37(2), 101-114.

Lind, V. (2012). High quality professional development: An investigation of the supports for and barriers to professional development in arts education. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 8(2).

Macintyre Latta, M., & Kim, J. (2010). Narrative inquiry invites professional development: Educators claim the creative space of praxis. Journal of Educational Research, 103(2), 137-148.

Mantas, K., & Di Rezze, G. (2011). On becoming "wide-awake": Artful re-search and co-creative process as teacher development. International Journal of Education & The Arts, 12(SI 1.4).

Sabol, F. R. (2006). Professional development in art education: A study of needs, issues, and concerns of art educators. Reston, VA: The National Art Education Foundation.

Scheib, J. W. (2006). Policy implications for teacher retention: Meeting the needs of the dual identities of arts educators. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 5-10.

Thompson, K. (1986). Teachers as Artists. Art Education, 39(6), 47-48.

Upitis, R. (2005). Experiences of artists and artist-teachers involved in teacher professional development programs. International Journal Of Education & The Arts, 6(8), 1-12.

Friday 01.25.19

Being Resourced in Our Renewal

By Brooke Hofsess

In this post, I share a profusion of resources because it is my belief that being resourced in our renewal includes constantly setting ourselves before new ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Here is a list of what I am taking in for renewal this month:

  • Michelle Obama’s incredibly moving memoir, Becoming.
  • A lively new take on a old theme to share with my daughter, The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken.
  • The philosophy and large-scale papermaking of Hong Hong.
  • My recent residency here and an upcoming residency here.
  • The encaustic works and journals of Erin Keane.
  • This podcast with Mahzarin Banaji who studies implicit bias and how social change becomes possible.
  • Anything written (or spoken) by Robin Wall Kimmerer, after loving her book Braiding Sweetgrass.


What would be on your list? At some point this month, consider taking an inventory of what feeds your intellect, imagination, curiosity, and renewal-- and make a plan to bring more of it into your days. Infuse your life with books, artwork, podcasts, and other fodder that ignites your questions and moves you to imagine yourself and the world otherwise. Fold it imperfectly, messily into your teaching, art making, and living. In the words of a mentor, “the work we do on ourselves is a gift to those we teach” (Vagle, 2011, p. 424). 

In my next and final post, I’ll dig into some of the politics that limit what we might imagine as renewal in our professional learning, and offer some alternative possibilities. As always, I look forward to your feedback and ideas. Feel free to leave suggestions or requests in the comments.

- BH


Vagle, M. (2011, April). An assaulting displacement of the social sciences. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.


Thursday 01.10.19

Being with Art Practice as Renewal

By Brooke Hofsess


As an art teacher educator, I often wonder, How do we prepare artist-teachers to find their way through the inevitable obstacles to renewal? Journaling has always been a way for me to explore difficult questions and circumstances, and it is a practice I share with my students. Therefore, my preservice classes kick off with either altering or stitching a blank book so we can dive deeply into living our unsolved questions (Rilke, 2011).

For me, seeking renewal often happens by way of being with my art practice. Therefore, this post invites you into my bookbinding practice by offering a provocation for the being of renewal-- stitching a handbound journal. I learned to make the pamphlet-stitched journal with woven binding (featured above) from one of my incredible mentors, Dr. Laura Gardner (Winthrop University). Laura generously shared how to make this book form with me a few years ago, and it quickly became my very favorite journal to make for myself and with my students.

Below I take you step-by-step through the process of making the journal pictured above. Let the photographs fill in the information I provide with text, as neither one will make complete sense without the other. I also recommend you read through the entire process before starting.

Step 1: Gather the following materials:

  • 2 decorative papers (old book jackets also work great) for front and back covers
             - In step 3 you will cut to 8.5 x 11 (11 minimum, longer if you want an elegant
             - Please save scraps when you trim covers for next item
  • 3 decorative papers 8.5 x variable (at least 4 and no more than 11)
             - In Step 5 you will use trimmings from front and back covers to make covers
               for inside three signatures.
  • Ruler
  • Exacto
  • 20 sheets of copy paper, sized 8.5 x 11
  • 1 piece of colorful copy paper, cut 8.5 x 4
  • Awl or push pin
  • Bonefolder (optional)
  • Bookbinding thread (or embroidery floss)


Note: Jump in even if you don’t have the same bookbinding tools featured above. You can do this project with minimal and/or makeshift tools.

Step 2: This journal is composed of five signatures (a signature is two or more sheets of paper stacked and folded together). Make all five signatures by dividing the 20 sheets of paper in five piles of four sheets of paper, then folding each stack of paper in half.

Fold the smaller color paper piece in half and set aside. This will be a template to poke holes.


Step 3: Cut front and back covers to size.


Step 4: Fold decorative paper in half and nest signatures inside. If paper is longer than 11, you can make a really elegant fold. My paper was 12 in. wide, so my fold is tiny but hopefully offers you an idea of how this would work.



Step 5: Use trimmings from front and back covers to make three additional partial covers for the inside three signatures. Nest copy paper signatures inside.


Step 6:
Order and stack the five signatures with covers to your aesthetic-- from front to back.


Step 7: Make a 5-hole template by marking the colorful sheet of cut copy paper. Indicate with a pencil where the five holes for sewing will be poked along the inner fold of each signature with cover on. You can measure with a ruler, or simply fold to measure. Put the template inside the signature with cover on, and poke all five holes. Repeat for all five signatures/covers. Do your best to keep the signatures in order so the holes line up neatly for sewing.


Step 8:
Sew each of the five signatures with covers using a 5-hole pamphlet stitch. I sketched a diagram below but don’t hesitate to pull up a video tutorial online if you need someone to talk you through it the first few times.

Holes poked and ready to stitch!


Always start and end inside the signature at the middle hole (station 3).


A curved bookbinding needle can be useful, but any thin needle will do. Too thick a needle might rip your paper.


Moving from inside to outside the book in a figure eight movement.


Finally, tie a double knot around the long thread at the center hole.


Step 9: Use the pamphlet stitch to bind each of the five signatures with covers individually.


Step 10:
Stack all five sewn signatures. Now you are reading to begin weaving the binding using a simple over and under stitch. You will see there are four sections to weave, two long and two short. Be creative with color if you like. To determine how much thread to start with per section, simply stretch thread between your outstretched arms and cut. You can always tie more on if you run out of thread, so just jump in. I find the weaving to be meditative.




Step 11: Tie off thread from first section with a new length of thread to move on with weaving the next section. (Leave tails long and weave them into the binding at the very end- more on that step below).


Step 12:
Be sure to look up every now and again to relax your eyes.


Step 13:
Continue weaving until you complete all four sections. Change thread colors as you like, or use the same color throughout. Again, when you finish-- weave longer threads back into the binding to secure your stitching. Use the needle to weave each loose thread in and trim.


Step 14: Your journal is complete! Grab some coffee, water, or tea and work through the following prompts:

  • Draw or write about your perspectives or definitions of renewal.
  • What are the 2-3 biggest obstacles to your renewal? What would you need to work around or remove these blocks?
  • Think of your most impactful mentor. What have you learned from this person and how does returning to their teachings renew you?


To close, taking the time to make a handbound journal and using it for deep exploration jumpstarts my renewal. In my next post, I will share a profusion of resources (a list of what I am reading and taking in for renewal). As always, I look forward to your feedback and questions. It would be lovely to hear some of your responses to the journaling prompts in the comments.




Rilke, R. M., & Harman, M. (2011). Letters to a young poet. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tuesday 01. 1.19

The Being of Renewal

By Brooke Hofsess

I am delighted to be in touch with you as NAEA’s January 2019 Monthly Mentor. The relationship between teacher renewal and professional learning, especially as it concerns artist-teachers, is one of my areas of interest. Over the next month, you can expect a series of shorts essays from me around the topic, The Being of Renewal. In this series I will:

  • Introduce my perspectives on renewal and professional learning;
  • Offer a provocation from my creative practice of book arts/journaling;
  • Share a profusion of resources (a list of what I am reading and taking in for renewal);
  • Dig into some of the politics that limit what we might imagine as renewal in our professional learning, and offer some alternative possibilities.

For now, I’ll jump in by offering a brief context regarding my perspectives on renewal and professional learning. Teacher renewal is often discussed (in the context of professional learning) as the credits needed to keep a teaching license up-to-date or to satisfy a school mandated requirement. Yet, linguistically, the word renewal implies a sense of moving, becoming, reaching, repairing-- and it is these overtones that really intrigue me. My work reaches toward a re-imagining of teacher renewal as the geographies of connectedness that artist-teachers live through in their practices.

Through my teaching and research, I have come to see professional learning as more generative and elusive than what we often designate as half-day workshops and training seminars; I see it as teachers learning together and alone as they experience the world in various ways that circle back to their work in classrooms (Day & Sachs, 2005). I feel energized by recent scholarship exploring the potential of professional learning opportunities that are robustly “… experimental, experiential, empowering, ongoing, contextual, collaborative, connecting theory to practice” (Macintyre Latta & Kim, 2010, p. 139). For artist-teachers, I recognize that this potential brings a responsibility and an attention to a need for “ongoing professional development support for the deeply embedded artist identities of many arts teachers” (Scheib, 2006, p. 9). It makes good sense to me that artists who teach benefit from ongoing, creative conversation and action— making, doing, imagining, sketching, living fully, visiting museums, listening, reading, playing, sharing and conversing with others along the way. All of this and more informs my sense of renewal as a way of being in the world-- moving, becoming, reaching, repairing.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts (Hofsess, 2016):

Professional learning is holistic and unbounded, entangling personal and professional threads.

Renewal is not an end, product, destination. You cannot arrive there, because you are forever on the move.

In my next post, I will be writing to you from my bookbinding table in order to share a provocation that jumpstarts my renewal. It is one I share with my preservice students almost every semester. I look forward to your feedback and ideas. Feel free to leave suggestions or requests in the comments.

- BH



Hofsess, B. A. (2016). Unfolding afterglow: Letters and conversations on teacher renewal. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2016.

Latta, M. M., & Kim, J. H. (2009). Narrative inquiry invites professional development: Educators claim the creative space of praxis. Journal of Educational Research, 103(2), 137–148.

Sachs, J., & Day, C. (2004). International Handbook on the Continuing Professional Development of Teachers. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Scheib, J. W. (2006). Policy implications for teacher retention: Meeting the needs of the dual identities of arts educators. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 5–10.


Saturday 12.29.18

Is anyone out there?

By Shelly Breaux

Just when I feel like I am getting the hang of this whole blogging thing, my month is almost up. Over the past month, I have been making list on top of list of topics I could possibly blog about. It was easy to share my space, my experiences and a few of my favorite lessons. All along wondering if anyone was reading these? Is anyone out there?

I guess it is time to get into the not so fun topic. The topic without pictures. Curriculum. If you are reading this, I have questions for you.

I want to know what your curriculum looks like. Who wrote it? Does it connect to the National Standards? What is your Scope and Sequence? Do you have one that your school district follows? Do you write your own? What does all this look like for you?

We have recently started revisiting our curriculum in our parish. (I am from Louisiana, we have parishes like you have counties.) We had several reasons as to why this all started for us. I won’t go into that as that may just bore you. When a group of us got together to tackle this task, our first question was were do we start? What are others doing?

The more we got into this, I started thinking if others in my state are doing the same thing. We should really be doing this on a state level. In the state of Louisiana, this has been neglected for decades. It is time for a facelift. At our state conference, I reached out to others and was excited to learn that others have been having the same conversations.

So here I am wondering what are others in our nation doing? How is this handled in your state? How is this handled in your district?  Can we start this conversation?

- SB

Wednesday 12.19.18

Do you ask for permission or forgiveness?

By Shelly Breaux

As you walk around your campus, do the colors in the halls remind you of the dentist office?  Are the bathroom stalls tones of red or blue? Do the display cases have dust growing on the items that are possibly older than the children that attend your school? Do you walk the halls thinking of a million ways you can help make your campus more visually pleasing?

I am very fortunate that my campus is barely 20 years old, with some portions of the building being only 2 years old.  Even in a space not built in the 60s, I still find ways to spruce things up.

Last year I noticed our front flower beds were in desperate need of some love. These flower beds line the walkway to enter our school. This is our guest's first impression of our campus. Students would walk straight through the flower beds not even realizing they are there. I don’t have a green thumb, but kept thinking if someone could replant this, I can line it with a design of colored rocks. My problem was rocks are expensive.

I knew that our school has an account with funds just for campus beautification. I also knew that going ask admin for $500 for rocks would seem absurd. I have learned a long time ago to show my principal what I am asking for. Give him a visual.  


I done this at my house so I had a few bags of rocks left over. With the help of a few students, I was able to get a sample of what I was thinking to show admin. Immediately they loved it and didn’t think twice when I asked them to fund this project giving them a quote of how much it would cost.

During final exams, I got an email to go see my Principal. He informed me that a Parent Group would be redoing the entire front flower bed and he added rocks to their list of supplies. We are set to go!

Here is where I messed up.

At the end of the school year parents, students, and teachers spent days redoing our flower beds. (Including lining them with rocks) The hard work paid off as the front of our school looked amazing.

Upon returning this year, with my project in mind, one of the first things I thought of was how was I going to get ALL THOSE ROCKS IN TO MY CLASSROOM? Why didn’t I have them give me the rocks first? Why did I let them put them down only to be dug up?

So after our first week of policy, procedures and assessing where my students were in their art ability, we started digging up rocks. It took a few days of 200 students, a bunch of buckets and one wagon to haul these rocks in to my room.

We then started our color theory lesson! See what I did there. I made us painting rocks part of my curriculum. Secondary Tuesday!  Primary Thursday! Complementary Friday!

I really thought we would be able to paint the rocks within a few weeks. Boy was I wrong. Here we are December and we are just starting to look like we are putting a dent in the rock pile.




Obviously we haven’t been painting rocks since school started. I had to move on with lessons. Since, I have made this a school wide community project inviting everyone in to help get this done. Over our Christmas break I need to think of new ways to get people involved so we can finish this project. Most students are “over painting rocks.” What I thought would only take a few weeks is now taking the entire school year.


Friday 12.14.18

Peace Dove

By Shelly Breaux

Ever go through Starbucks drive through and pay for the car behind you? I am not one to frequent the coffee shop but each time I go I try to make it a habit to treat the next car.  I especially do this around the holidays. In fact, I go more often during the holidays just for this reason.

How do you teach your students to give back through art? How do you teach them to give of their time and talent? How do you lead them to be givers? I want to share with you one of the projects I have done with my students in the past that focused on just this!

Peace Doves

This project started with me wanting to show students how you can get others attention through art and how you can send positive messages through art. I did this project several years ago between the Thanksgiving and Christmas break.


It is not uncommon for my students to be seen on campus laying on the floor, standing on tables or stealing rocks out of the front flower bed. (I may need to explain this in another blog, TBC)

When my students are in the halls around campus others don’t pay much attention to what they are doing. This makes it easy for us to camouflage the doves into our surroundings.

Students are to pick areas that they want to hide the doves.  They must use what they know with color theory to be able to match the colors they need. They must make choices in which mediums would work best for the space they are working in.


We purposely make some doves more visible to get others attention.


Then the magic happens. My students start hearing others talking about the doves. Once people start to notice them (kids and adults) they start asking questions. Who made these? Why are they here? What does it mean? Look! I found another one! WAIT! Come see this one!


I encourage my students to just listen and not reveal that we put them there. During class, we share stories of what we are hearing in the halls. This can lead to class discussions on:

  1. How can art make an impact on others?
  2. How can art send a positive message to others?
  3. Now that we got their attention, what do we do?
  4. Do we leave them up or do something with them?
  5. What can these doves mean?

That year we decided to take them down and place them on large windows in the main hall of our campus with the world PEACE. Students decided the doves can represent diversity, peace, and love. That is when we titled them PEACE DOVES.


This was done 3 years ago, and do you know I still see doves left behind on campus. I have 3 still in my room. Every so often, a student will notice the doves in my room and inquire about it. They will even share other places they have seen them on campus.


This is not a project I do every year as I feel that it will lose its impact. Maybe it is time to revisit this project. With social media having such a huge impact on my students, it maybe a way to focus on something positive when we get back from our Christmas break.


Tuesday 12.11.18

We Are Life Long Learners

By Shelly Breaux

Today was a day of celebration. The day started with brunch celebrating Ben getting his first teaching job and ending with a shower for Trinity who is about to welcome her baby boy into this world. What does this have to do with Art Education?

In the state of Louisiana, students entering Education must complete an internship. Our local University reaches out to teachers asking us to mentor these students as they finish up their last semester of college. These students are about to become our colleagues. These students are taking our classrooms when we retire. These students share the same passion as we do.

Picture1Trinity did her student teaching with me in 2014.

Picture2Ben did his student teaching with me in 2017.

I became a mentor teacher my first-year teaching. You read that right! MY FIRST YEAR! When asked by “My Mentor” I immediately thought she had lost her mind. It’s my first year, I don’t know what I am doing, but I did it. I learned so much from that experience that I have had a student teacher every year since.

I have heard several reasons why others don’t want to have a student teacher.

Here are some reasons why you DO want to take in a Preservice Art Education Major.

Extra Eyes, Ears and Hands

My students benefit from me having extra help in the classroom. With two of us, we get to spend more one on one time with students. We can divide and conquer. I can focus on a task and not have to worry of taking my eyes off “little Johnny.

Reflecting on Your Own Practice

If I am going to be sharing my space, that means I am going to be sharing my thought process. Student teachers are the best “students”. They are eager to learn. As I am sharing my procedures, I am sharing my “why”. As I am sharing my lessons, I am sharing my “why”. Although we are highly reflecting professionals to begin with, this process really forces me to really think about my “why”.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

I treat my student teachers as my equal. I build them up to be ready to take on my classes solo by starting with us teaching together. Team teaching is a great way to get them in the front lines. Team teaching is a great way for my students to learn to go to them. Team teaching helps make sure they are getting a hands-on experience of what it is really like to be a teacher.

Giving Back

As I stated in a previous blog, we constantly have to defend our role in education. Opening our door to the “next” art teacher is another way of advocating for art education. If we are not being a part of preparing the “next” then we are not being a part of helping build the Art Education Community.

I often tell my students teachers, in this experience you will either learn things you want to take with you or things you will never do.  Either way, you are learning.

Till Next Time….Give Back!

- SB