Sustainability- this brings many meanings

18 10 2013

Sustainability is a lens we have been asked to apply to our curricular work.  Sustainability is defined as:

1:  capable of being sustained
2 a :  of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture>

:  of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>

This is a great idea and should be applied to everyday living.  As a matter for survival for an art teacher this has been the way we think all the time.  I don’t know one art teacher who doesn’t have a stash of cardboard, plastic bags, scrap wood, paint, fabric, yard, etc.  It is how we function.  At times it is frustrating that I have all these pockets of random stashes of stuff, but other times I am so relieved I held on to that item.  I reuse and re purpose all the time.  I recently completed a sculpture lesson using all the cardboard boxes I had from the start of the school year.  I was able to use up some “oops” or wrong mixed paints that was donated and several students use magazine paper, yarn, and my wall paper books to add finishing touches.
Fun house
Today I was sitting in my studio and looked around at all my stacks of finished art pieces that need to graded, photographed, and displayed.  I have been waiting to get all the cardboard houses out of the studio to make room for the clay unit that has already started.   My studio serves all courses and so I not only manage all the materials but I have to plan for storing works in progress.  I could limit the scale of the works of art to fit on one shelf per class but I like my students to explore.  For some of my students this is the first and possibly the last time they will every do this type of art work.
Robert house front
So getting back to the Sustainability lens for curricular work…I think I got this.
Natalie House (7)

What I have discovered after all these years

13 10 2013

I’m in the midst of my twenty-fourth year of teaching and as I review my lesson plan book I reflect on how things have changed.  For some reason I have kept all my lesson plan books and I do look at the previous year’s notes for some guidance on some lesson plans.  But now so much is created on my laptop and stored on our curriculum mapping data base.  I still write formal lessons, create PowerPoint’s, adapt rubrics, and now locate interesting links and YouTube videos to inspire and help me create new or updated lessons.  I also use other platforms to keep me motivated and collect ideas for new lessons.  I use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook pages, and I follow several blogs.  Lately, I have been noticing more and more comments from beginning or new art teachers. I wish I had the internet when I first started teaching.  In fact the library or slide library was all I had to gather research to get inspiration.  My art education methods class was very helpful too.  My art education professor had us write lesson plans and photocopy one for each member of our cohort.  I still have that trusty binder and a real file cabinet with hand written or a type written lesson plans.  One day I promise to scan or word process them to preserve them on my huge external hard drive.

Share the Love

While doing my research, I chime in on some questions.  Other times I read and follow the thread online.  I find a variety of comments from very helpful and supportive to some comments that maybe it would have been better for the responding educator to delete.  “Snarky” or negative comments are not helpful.  The art educator reached out for support and if we think the question is not an educationally sophisticated one, just leave it alone.  I know sometimes a few questions seem easy or the art educator should know the answer ” it’s obvious”.  But I try not to assume I know what the teacher is dealing with because I don’t.  I am always learning, I press the limits, and I fall on my face.  It’s what we should be doing pushing to do better and helping other art educators elevate what they are doing too.  Art Education is being cut, restricted, and missing from too many children’s lives.

I love being an art educator and I want it to be accessible to all children.

 I want students to light up inside, know the discovery of creating something original.  

I have been encouraging my students to find their voice and find what they care about; and do something about it.  I have so many students who have found their voice and are in the world as adults making a difference.  They are creative, innovative, and entrepreneurs.  I know I have had a part of their lives for a short time but I did make a difference.  We all make a difference every day in big and small ways.  If you help another art teacher you are in turn helping and making a difference for many children.

We know the art studio to be a special, magical, and an amazing space where we expand minds, open hearts, and plant seeds.  We lift spirits and inflate self-esteem.  What we do may not be very visible to some but very clear to others.

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