Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When The Administration Visits

Kristen's sketchbook assignment for "A Hand Holding Something"

I thought this image was appropriate for my day today.  "That awkward moment when" the assistant principle comes into your classroom just to see what's going on in the art world.  It's funny how the students' backs straighten when they notice she is there.  Some actually focused more on their work as to not be "noticed".   I see that she's there out of the corner of my eye but I'm too busy mixing more glue and talking to a student about their project.  In fact I didn't even address her at first.  So what do you do when one of the administration comes in.  Well, my thinking is unless they stand and wait to be recognized and addressed by you then you do nothing.  You carry on with your instruction.  After all, that's more likely what they are there to observe anyway.  I was hoping none of my students would shout out "Mrs. Wirt the assistant principle is here"  They were great.  As I was working with a student I heard her ask another what they were doing.  Thank goodness they were able to accurately describe their project.  I guess that means I'm doing something right.

When a student can tell another person what they are working on, how they are doing it and why they are doing it then they are internalizing what they are doing.  One of the best tests to see if your instruction is sinking in is to have a student explain to another person who knows absolutely nothing about art the concept you are teaching.  Students were working on the "Layers of Me" project.  We had finished our discussion just a little prior to our guest's arrival and students were full into their studio time.  When I did get a break I went to speak to her.  She was all complements.  I further explained how students were using their initials for a relief sculpture all about their world.  I explained how they broke down the layers into different parts of their world and used paint and image transfers to illustrate the important things in their life.

She asked me some very interesting questions. 1. How do you keep all 25 of them on pace when they are all doing something different?  2. Do you just keep on going when time is up and students have to make up work on their own time? 3. When is the deadline?  I explained that I don't set a final deadline until at least half the class is half way done with the project.  I have to observe how the students are grasping a concept and then I set a date and we push towards it.  I normally don't like for students to take their art projects home to work on in the middle because they often get lost, damaged or never returned.  Then that effects the student's grade.  I am available after school 2 days a week for open studio time.  However if a student is not progressing as they should in class then I push them to keep on task.  As the deadline comes near I will allow students to take work home.  If a student needs more time on a project when the rest of the class has finished then that student has to come after school to work on it or take it home to work on it.  I don't start new projects with the class when old ones aren't complete.  That's not to say that I don't have students working ahead if the finish early.  Students that have completed their project are allowed to begin sketchbook assignments.  Mostly I find that the first person finished with a project really isn't finish.  It's at this point where that student and I sit and talk about their work.  In these conferences students usually find that there are some aspects that could be improved upon and then they really aren't finished.  The strategy here is to ask questions about the composition and meanings of things in it.

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