#ArtsEdWeek: An Art Teacher’s Journey From Clueless to Innovative

Jeremy Mallov, Amy Beverland Elementary

“What do you think, you are just going to be sitting there and a milkshake will fall in your lap?   ……Or a mars bar?”, said Professor Bill Itter, with his eyes bulging out with the excitement of a mad scientist. He was teaching us color theory at IU in 1999 and imploring us to work at our craft; to take it as seriously as he does. This was a lesson that took a little longer for me to learn in the craft of art teaching. When I first started out, I was convinced I was going to be a high school teacher. I worked a couple maternity leaves in high school and middle school, but I ended up at an elementary school; which turned out to be the absolute best thing for me. When I first started I was clueless as to what the younger kids were capable of, having the first graders color in coloring sheets and making crafty cut and glue projects for the older grades. The longer I worked with the younger kids, the more I realized they could truly accomplish. I experimented and learned and practiced and documented, and my lessons evolved. I began to start every day with a 5 minute life drawing; I would collect things: one day it would be an old toy, the next day it would be a pinecone or a thistle or an old pair of sunglasses; and the students would draw from life, adding shading and details. I began to treat it with the same seriousness my IU drawing professors did.

In college (and in life) I had a love of art history. I began to teach the 6-year-olds how to analyze works of art. Every day after the life-drawing time, we discussed an “artist in the spotlight.” A famous work of art poster was presented, and the kids spotted clues in the paintings, made connections to what was happening in history at the time, and began to learn to see the elements in the art as metaphors and symbolism. A dark cloud in the sky became a metaphor for how the artist felt worried about the future; a blue mountain became a symbol for the artist’s sadness. I also began to group the students’ projects into in-depth units of study.

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#ArtsEdWeek: Art Breaks Down Barriers and Brings People Closer

Margarita Garcia, Forest Glen Elementary School

I always ask myself, “Why did I study art”? I should’ve followed my father’s advice and become a nutritionist…I’d be skinny and have money! However, life has brought me to where I am today, an intermediary position between learning, creativity and the individual. Wow! That’s definitely a handful!

I also won’t pose the question over what is Art, because Art is life itself, and it’s so hard as art educators to get other mortals to understand the magnitude of that word. For arts educators like ourselves, artistic education carries a tremendous amount of weight. It’s teaching our students that art is what perseveres over time, the indispensable parts of our culture, the patrimonies of humanity, the beautiful and the ugly, mediums of experimentation, the mess and the cleanup, balance and aesthetic…and so much more.

I began to teach 32 years ago in my island of Puerto Rico. I’m a mosaic artist and a painter, but I love seeing the look of curiosity on a child’s face when I give them the opportunity to experiment and reflect over what they are about to commence. I don’t have the words to describe that satisfaction. I settled down in Indiana in voluntary exile still loving and missing my homeland, my family, my friends, my fellow artists and my students. What convinced me to make this radical change from the heat of the tropics to the cold winters with a visible changing of the seasons, was a desire for cultural diversity assuming the concept that art is universal and that through art, barriers are dropped and people become closer.

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Voices for Any Given Child Indy: New Site Coordinator

Leesa Jing, Arts Council of Indianapolis Grant Services & Education Partnerships Coordinator

Back in May, I joined the Arts Council of Indianapolis as the Grant Services & Education Partnerships Coordinator, thus becoming one of the new Site Coordinators for Any Given Child Indy. As someone who grew up in the arts, I could not have been more ecstatic to receive an offer to join the Arts Council staff just four days before my graduation from Butler University. 

At Butler, I studied arts administration and mathematics while being a member of the Butler University Dance Team, serving as a Butler Student Ambassador at the Admissions Office, and participating in numerous other campus organizations. I also volunteered with Art With a Heart and completed internships with the National Panhellenic Conference, Arts for Learning, Asante Children’s Theatre, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. One of my most valuable experiences from the past four years was having the opportunity to study in Europe for three months, during which I explored the arts and cultures of Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Ireland.

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Voices for Any Given Child Indy: “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I will remember.”

Amber Price, art teacher at Edison School for the Arts, attended “The Sound of Music” while in Washington, DC for the Annual Arts Integration Conference.

There’s an Old Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me and I will forget.  Show me and I will remember.  Involve me and I will understand. Step back and I will act.”  I’ve used this proverb before to explain the Orff Schulwerk approach to teaching elementary music that I use in my classroom; and to me, it also applies to arts integration.

In June, I was given a wonderful opportunity to attend the Kennedy Center’s Annual Arts Integration Conference in Washington, DC.  This conference gave me a better understanding of what arts integration is, and it gave me strategies on how to incorporate arts integration into the classroom.  The experience was absolutely incredible!

 

As an attendee, I was involved in and experienced lessons first hand, which made the conference very enjoyable.  I wasn’t just sitting in a chair listening to someone talk, I was going through actual lessons that the master teacher had used with children.  I was up dancing and creating tableaus with other teachers;  I was sitting on the floor having discussions with other teachers and administrators; and I was participating and creating just as a child would in an arts-integrated classroom lesson.

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Voices for Any Given Child Indy: Meaningful Content + Enriching Experiences = Lifelong Learners

Heather Boelke, Eliza Blaker Elementary School Art Teacher

Any Given Child Indy provided an invaluable opportunity to advance my understanding and implementation of arts integration by sending me to the Kennedy Center’s Annual  Arts Integration Conference. The resources provided throughout the experience included tools and strategies to engage students, their families, and the community in a rounded arts and academic curriculum. I learned from experts in education and networked with peers from across the country, establishing foundations for instruction with clear understanding of arts integration defined.

Most impactful to my own experience is the understanding that arts integration is a strategy for teaching which makes education more equitable for all students. We serve a diverse student population, each child having a unique set of needs. With arts integration practices in place in the classroom, students will learn by engaging in creative processes. They will develop skills in communication through varying aptitudes and reflect meaningfully on content and learning processes. Arts integration serves as an avenue to incorporating necessary 21st century skills in classroom instruction.

Among the many strategies shared during the conference, we closed by creating 6 Word Stories about our experiences. My acquired understanding of arts integration and its value to our students is as follows.

Meaningful content + enriching experiences = LIFELONG LEARNERS

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