|7th grade creative weaving based on Native American art|
It is so important to support each other in the local community; as so many of us are isolated in the schools! No one person has all the answers, but together we might! I have discovered that 76% of the Alabama public school art teachers we found are the only art teacher at their school, and 27 art teachers across the state are the only ones in their entire district! If we can reach out to others in our area, mentoring, validating, and encouraging each other as well as sharing ideas, so much professional growth will happen! Can we end the isolation and band together? What lesson plans worked for you? Which were a flop? What have you done to successfully motivate kids who believed they had no "talent" for drawing? How have you dealt with community attitudes toward art? If you have a particularly difficult group of students to manage this year, who can you talk to for advice and support? We art teachers are the best resource we have!
The Birmingham Art Education Association and Jefferson County Board of Education recently hosted our "Managing the Art Classroom; The Power of Collective Wisdom" workshop. That time spent with fellow art teachers became a catalyst for all kinds of ideas, probably the most important of which was the realization of one art teacher that she needed to start a support group for her colleagues in Tuscaloosa. She writes, "You've inspired me to take on Tuscaloosa County art teachers...hopefully to unite them so we can edify each other and become better teachers and a stronger voice in our system." Another teacher decided to facilitate a group of artists who will go into Title I elementary schools to increase under-privileged children's exposure to the arts. We all went home enriched and empowered with lots of new ideas! There is just nothing in the world that can equal the opportunity to have a good conversation with someone who genuinely understands!
From, The Courage To Teach, by Parker J. Palmer, 1998, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers
"...in recent years I have been enriched by working with public school teachers, from kindergarten through the twelfth grade. I have learned much from my K-12 colleagues, including these two things: teachers at all levels of education have more in common than we think, and we should not be so glib about which level we call "higher." Kindergarten teachers often understand the craft better than those of us with Ph.D.'s..".p. 7
"Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves. The methods used by these weavers vary widely: lectures, Socratic dialogues, laboratory experiments, collaborative problem-solving, creative chaos. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts - meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self." p.11
"If we want to grow as teachers - we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives - risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract." p. 12
"Staying open to new meetings, trying to distinguish those that have integrity from those that do not, is a tiring and sometimes frightening task. I am often tempted to protect my sense of self behind barricades of status or role, to withhold myself from colleagues or students and ideas and from the collisions we will surely have. When I succumb to that temptation, my identity and integrity are diminished - and I lose the heart to teach." p. 16