Posted on 02/05/2019 at 10:25 AM by Blog Experts

Recently on social media, I read that someone referred to January as being the “longest year”.  I thought that was probably the most appropriate description I’ve ever heard for a truly difficult month.

We all know January in Iowa can be challenging with colder temperatures, dreary days and fewer options to get outside. We all know it’s coming and we do our best to keep our students engaged and intrinsically motivated, but sometimes we as teachers need to feed our passion for learning and exploring art media.  We need to demonstrate the joy in art making and model that artistic behavior for our students. We need to be a student in our own classrooms and show our students how to have fun with exploration and how not to be afraid of failure.

I truly believe the process of creating art is usually more important than the product. The learning and the collaboration within the classroom are what creates the climate of your classroom, and your school. This is what your students will remember for a lifetime. We need the laughter, the conversations, the art making and the flexibility to be ourselves.

The winter months are a great time to try something new and to revitalize your curriculum. Find something you’ve always wanted to try as an artist and bring it to your class. Your students can experiment with you and you can learn from each other. Create right alongside your students and explore the possibilities. They will see you as an artist, and you will have earned their respect.

When I start to feel the winter blues, I paint with my high school painting students, or I sit and draw alongside them, moving from table to table. I take the time to interact with each pupil on a more personal level.

Or you might consider collecting bottles and slumping them in your kiln. Ask the kids to do the research on the correct firing procedures and they will become the experts. Think about using 20 Time in your classroom, or establishing classroom meetings one day each week, to just sit and ask what’s going well in your student’s lives and what they’re most proud of this school year. Taking time to mix up the learning and building relationships will be rewarding for you and your students.

Stay positive, feed your passion, have conversations while you create, and enjoy the journey.

Chére Fox-O’Reilly

Art Teacher

West Monona High School

 

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