It turns out that being pregnant, teaching 750 students a week AND updating a blog at least once a week is a lot of work- because I haven’t been doing it. This summer, as I envisioned my organized classroom full of eager students deeply engaged in meaningful art making, I was sure creating a world-class art education blog would be no problem for Ms. Shirley a.k.a. amazing woman.
I was completely unprepared for the overwhelming exhaustion that comes with pregnancy. For the last few weeks of school, seemingly small tasks like updating the bulletin boards, creating handouts with examples on them and washing paintbrushes at the end of the day – turned in to life challenges so monumental I considered calling Iyanla.
The other thing weighing on my swollen, sneaker-clad feet (farewell cute flats) is that Florida will soon be implementing standardized testing for visual arts. This means all of my kindergarten through fifth grade students will be taking a standardized test, regardless if they have stepped foot in my classroom or not. Many students, if they are English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or receive Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services, get pulled out of art for extra help in academic areas.
The test is still in the works, but has obviously been a source of heated controversy and high emotions at every arts meeting. How do you “test” for art? How do you measure those complex habits of mind like risk taking and engaging and persisting? My biggest fear is that this test will suck all the passion and exploration out of art. Instead of tailoring lessons to student interest, I’ll be forced to drill them with vocabulary and art history facts.
With pregnancy and standardized testing on my mind, staying flexible and looking for the positive in each day (The Secret has been on repeat) has been my mantra. And nothing tests that mantra like paint and six year olds.
With my kindergarteners, we’ve been focusing on line and color. We started with the line sculptures in the previous post, and moved on to creating lines with colored pencils. Next we practiced painting lines using only one color, so students could get familiar with painting procedures.
We’re slowly working up to using THREE primary colors and mixing them to make secondary colors.