Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Goals and Resolutions

Artists Name: Blake A.         School: Fancher Elementary
As 2011 comes to a close, it is easy to get swept up in the promise a fresh start of the new year can offer. This can also become a time where those good intentioned goals get thrown out there without the follow through or support to get it done.

I know I have started many statements with, "This is the year (fill in the blank with any type of goal) will happen," only to end up later in the year feeling bummed that it did not get done.Whether it was my own procrastination or not knowing how to get whatever the goal was accomplished, my hope is that with this post and our online community of support on Facebook and Twitter, we can work together to get our goals accomplished during 2012.

So, here is to the year it DOES happen and here are a few potential Arts Education goals with suggestions on how to stay on track to fulfilling your resolutions.

  • Get Hired! It is no secret that the tough economy has resulted in teacher lay-offs, pink-slips, as well as reassignments. When I originally posted this idea of resolutions our Facebook group, one member responded that their goal was to get a job this year. Although it has been a tough couple of years, there have been opportunities for Arts Ed professionals to get involved and help get their foot in the door. If you are looking for a job, consider ways to help promote your skills and expand your network by volunteering and participating in online forums. There have been various posts on our Facebook group about long term subbing positions; although this may not initially lead to a full time position, the experience and networking could.
  • Get Published! Is there a great lesson plan you have that your fellow Art colleagues have oohhhed and ahhhed over and works consistently with each group of students you have taught? Then share it! We all have used resources from SchoolArts Magazine and Arts&Activities Magazine at one point or another to help gain insight and ideas to deliver and develop classroom curriculum. Make 2012 your chance to contribute. Both publications offer how-to tips with writing for their magazines. If you have ever explained a project to a friend then you will be able to write and get your work published highlighting your classroom. Nancy Walkup, the Editor for SchoolArts is also very helpful with any questions you might have about an article idea. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Art Education 2.0, or follow her blog.
  • Try New Tech! Whether it is flipping your classroom, creating a Twitter account, or even subscribing to some of your favorite blogs, using technology can help you connect with others in your profession and grow to help serve your students. I have only recently joined Twitter (@campbellartsoup) and have made some great strides in how I use tech in my classroom as well as connect with other teachers from across the globe. Art teacher and co-founder of The Teaching Palette, Theresa McGee, shared some great Web 2.0 tools to use, engaging students and delivering content. This takes time, but know you are not alone. There is a powerful educational community out there waiting and ready to support you through any questions you may have.
  • Make Art for Yourself! Art teachers face the rare expectation compared to other content areas. You rarely hear a parent or community member ask a Math teacher what equations they are working on, but you often hear community members ask Art teachers what they have made lately. I am proud that we have a different kind of expectation, but it is often difficult to find the time to make anything when you are planning lessons, preparing materials, and displaying art for a school full of children. I became an Art teacher because I love Art and care for kids. I am definitely not the most productive artist, but I try and create work to help keep my skills honed and up to date. I am recently creating work for a group show and found that if it was not for that show, I probably would not have found the joy I have over break in making the work I have so far. Consider putting yourself into a show to force yourself to make something, or sign up for one of the Summer PD workshops the MAEA organizes. 
Those are only four goals to help you start to think about what it is you want to focus on this new year.  What are some of your Art Education goals and resolutions for 2012?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Expanding Your Resources

During the Holiday season, Santa is not the only one making a list and checking it twice.

For many of us, reaching Winter break is also closely approaching the half-way point of the year and the materials we purchased for the projects planned. Whether you see students for the full year or for a smaller duration, the materials purchased for the year have been used by a good portion of students by now and (if you are like me) you are starting to strategically plan how much needs to be left in order to make it through the rest of the year.

In addition to figuring out how you might make the materials you have stretch out to the end of the year, many of you (according to a per pupil funding poll by the NAEA this year) are working with less than $3 per student. I happen to fall into that category and find that I am often having to choose between basic materials like markers, glue, and paper, forgoing the more exciting materials or projects like printmaking or Raku firing.

In order teach the projects listed above, you need the various equipment or materials to provide the experience. I used to complain and fret, spending hours upon hours doting over every last detail of my start-of-the-year order, worrying about what I was not getting. This mind set put me into a situation where I was looking only to the school district for funds (which have been cut consistently by the State), limiting the materials and experiences for a complete Visual Arts Curriculum.

It wasn't until I worked with my colleague, Jamie Kosmicki on writing a grant that I realized how much control I have over the funding opportunities offered to expand experiences for my students. Since the $1000 grant she wrote to help our High School students experience Raku firing with Paul Flickinger, I have been empowered to do the same.
Paul Flickinger at Byron Center High School, Spring 2010.
From using the resources listed in this LiveBinder, I have been able to have guest artists visit, take students on field trips, as well as buy additional materials and equipment. It has offered me a pathway to expand the resources in my classroom and as a result students have gained insight and skills that would have otherwise been left out.

During this Holiday season, I encourage you to sit down and make a list of the things you have not yet purchased due to the lack of funding. Organize those materials around a project and find the right funding source for you. If you are looking to start small, consider taking advantage of the offer by NEA through DonorsChoose of matching funds.

Good luck in all of your funding efforts to help bring more experiences to your students throughout the year. We are interested in your successes -- please post a project you have had funded in the past through a grant or fundraiser or a project you did get funded as a result of this post.