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Mary Weimer Green (November)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Mary Weimer Green is an art educator at Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, OH. Mary was awarded the 2018 OAEA Elementary Division State Award and the 2019 NAEA Western Region Elementary Art Educator Award. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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September 11, 2019

Insect Interventions (Part II)

By Benjamin Tellie

Figure 1_working on Hot HeadFigure 1, Student working on Hot Head

In Figure 1, a 6th-grade student used recycled vitamin bottles, film canisters, old clock parts, and a floppy disk to create his insect, Hot Head. Hot Head’s fangs can frighten and bite the bully, unleashing a venom to better enable the bullier to make fair decisions and treat people with respect. The metaphor of using body language and clear communication is displayed to let the bully know that their words hurt. 

Communication plays an important role in a bullying situation for adults who are intervening and for students. For students to stand up and say “I don’t feel comfortable with this” or “you’re hurting me and it’s not okay,” students begin to develop confidence and assertiveness. Being a bystander, a person who is passive, letting bullying actions play themselves out, will most likely worsen the situation. 

Figure 2_I-See-U BugFigure 2, I-See-U bug with process sketch

In Figure 2, a 7th-grade student created his I-See-U Bug, which has a large antenna to communicate with other bugs, strong legs for a speedy escape and a large eye on it’s back to be aware and sensitive of its surroundings. This student portrays the metaphor of being observant in bullying situations, proactive, and leaving a situation when needed with a calm outlook. 

Figure 3_Standaloo insectFigure 3, Standaloo insect with process sketch

Figure 3, a 7th-grade students’ Standaloo insect makes herself larger when confronted, has a protective shell, and let’s out a soft screech when in need of assistance. This student uses the metaphor of stability and having backbone, envisioning herself as a strong person. 

Role-play 

Through the process of drawing and playing with materials to create a concept insect, students imagine a world where they build outcomes and outfits for themselves in bullying situations. As an outfit for role-play through metaphor, the student's invented insect provides them with protective "armor" with which they are free to explore resolutions to conflicts in bullying situations. Students assign characteristics and personas to their insect to help make sense of difficult feelings and how to approach scenarios involving bullying. 

Incorporating empathy in art curriculums that deeply engage students through imaginative role-play, investigating materials and metaphor allows students to grapple and work through difficult topics like school violence, bullying, and behavioral problems. Enabling students to examine a topic like bullying, by developing their own characters, and working with role-play and discussion, relieves some tension and invites them to explore the topic in a more relaxed and creative mind set. 

-BT 

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