Art Show: We are Family

I love my school! I love how everyone works together like a family to support each other and get things done, always looking out for what’s best for our students. Like a family we go through the ups and downs of stressful and happy times, and sometimes like a family we make decisions, assumptions, and statements that can hurt. BUT, also like a family we talk it out, forgive, and move on… all because we are looking out for what is best for our students.

Our school recently put on a school wide art show, it has been a tradition for a number of years. After over a week of setting up and dealing with all the details, the show was held for two and a half days. Parents, students, teachers, and district staff, including our superintendent, came to see the hard work our students and teachers put in through a whole year of art making. Our students were proud that their work was displayed, “like in a real art gallery”.

Our school is considered one of the “inner city” schools in our district, and because of the hard life stories that some of these kids come to school with, some do not feel that they are capable of doing anything worthy. As well, the stress and hurt that we feel when we try to help these students sometimes overwhelms us. The art show proved to these students in particular that their work and their learning is important; and proved to us, that what we do with these students to help them come to terms and overcome their difficult situations is important.

When news spread of our art show, we received some wonderful feedback including those of excitement, encouragement, and thankfulness. In particular, one person asked if we had an artist in residence that did this… No we do not. What we do have are teachers and staff who are passionateabout our students’ and their learning. It did not come together overnight and without emotions getting in the way, but we were able to support each other through this large undertaking. We have teachers and staff that work together like a family.

Here is a video of all the art that was shown in our art show. I am so proud of my school, that I want to share this accomplishment (one of many) with everyone! There are some great examples of art projects using a variety of mediums. Maybe you can include some of these in YOUR art show!

So This Happened: Kindergarten Boy 1 Mud Puddle 0

After teaching a crazy Friday morning in K and trying to juggle too many balls in the air at the office, this happened…

and this happened…

and this happened…

and this happened!

As the supervisor brought him in after lunch, I just didn’t know whether I wanted to laugh or cry.  My two K teacher colleagues got a sense of this and whisked him away. Photos were taken, an interview was done, and this is the result. Sometimes, you just have to shake your head, smile and be grateful for parents who send a change of clothing right down to socks and shoes!

Teacher: Was the mud fun?

Boy: “Yeah, SO MUCH FUN! We were playing a game, we had to cover the mud with rocks and the ground where the sand was, but NO woodchips! Eight of us, we didn’t cover all the mud, though we’ll finish on MONDAY!”

Not sure about that!

Thank you to my dear colleagues who rescued me from going over the edge!

iPads aren’t for Everyone

Okay, so another teaching assignment change for me… Just had teacher librarian added to the mix. I’ll still be teaching Kindergarten one day a week, but I’ll now be in the library three days a week and vice principal one day a week. Phew! Just writing all that made me tired!

I took on the teacher librarian role as an opportunity to collaborate with all the enrolling teachers at my school and as a way to really get to know all the students. I also was excited about the ability to integrate technology during our classes’ library times.

While I know that technology is to be used as a tool for teaching and isn’t a magic solution to all children’s learning needs, I have never really experienced students not wanting to use technology!

Well, in come a group of 4th graders and I excitedly revealed to them that I would be pulling out the iPad cart for them to find more information on the different birds we read about. My announcement was followed by cheers and clapping; they could not wait to get their hands on the iPads! After searching on Google for a few minutes, one student nervously asked, “Are we allowed to go on YouTube?” Me: “Uh, yes, of course!” The library suddenly was filled with bird song and a lot of sharing. We watched videos of robins hatching, a warbler singing, a sparrow building a nest, and many more. So much engaged learning was happening! I was about to pat myself on the back, for a job well done, but then beyond the sea of happily engaged students I spied a group of boys on the carpet at the back of the library… with no iPad… and they were not talking about birds!

Me: “Boys, do you want an iPad?”
Boy 1: “No, I don’t like iPads?”
Me: “Well have you used one before?”
They all nodded and sneered in my general direction, not wanting to make any eye contact.
Me (totally thrown off and not sure where to go with this awkward situation): “Okay… Uh, hmm…”

And then it dawned on me, we were in… A LIBRARY!!
“Do you want to look at books about birds?”
They all nodded eagerly and stood up. I then skipped over to the 598 section (yes, I am becoming a Dewey Decimal System Master!), showed them where the bird section was and they happily looked at the books until the end of their library time… engaged in learning.

Now that was unexpected! The boys looking at books were just as engaged in their learning as their classmates who were using iPads. This was a big reminder that technology isn’t for everyone and it is just another option as we differentiate instruction for our students. Forcing every student to use technology to learn and present their learning is just as ineffective as forcing every student to all use pencil and paper and books in the library!

Oh, and in case you are curious, here are some of the bird videos these students found. Welcome spring!
Robins Hatching

Sparrow Building a Nest

Warlber Singing