Tuesday, April 7, 2015

After 15 Years of Art Shows

. . . I've learned so much.  First of all, do not try to do it all yourself.  I get it, control freaks, I do, for you are my people.  You are my tribe (although we wouldn't really be a tribe because we'd all be sure someone wouldn't do their job "right" so we'd sigh and take it over and do it all ourselves and end up a bunch of individuals squabbling over things).  Have your students help, it's their show gosh darn it, so let them do some things.  I remember being new and veteran teachers talking about all the things they had the kids do and I thought 'HOW? It's all crappy and sloppy and wrong when they do it! Glue everywhere, nothing put back!' And the secret is this: let them do things within some very tight parameters.  For the five years I was pregnant (no, really) I was so very exhausted all the time that I really took this one to heart and had 2nd-6th grade choose and glue their artwork and it looked ok.  OK if you happened to be the students' parent/grandparent/doting aunt and didn't notice didn't mind the smeared glue all over the edges or the fact that some of the artwork was glued upside down.  This year, I did it similarly (kept all student work all year, chose a day about three weeks out from the art show and passed it back and had students choose their two best) but I glued it down.  While I was calling students back and gluing, they worked on a "folder"(a folded 12 x 18 manilla paper decorated with marker) to carry all their artwork home in. I even did K and 1st this way this year, and you know what??? It turned out FABULOUSLY.
Secondly, use your resources! For years I wrote out each student's name and glued it to their artwork.  Now? I have the secretary print out names on sticker labels.  SO much easier.  She prints them one class per page, and if someone's work is missing I know immediately.  One of those d'oh-why-didn't-I-start-this-years-ago things.
Thirdly, (is that a real word??) get the students excited.  I have my students make invitations the week leading up to the art show.  We just spend one class period making invitations.  I print off the specifics like this:

so they can easily be cut apart and glued on the inside of the invitations.  Students can make two or three and I've found they are more likely to come if they make a super-cute-and-covered-with-Mr.Sketch-smelly-markers invitation.  This year, I'm also having students in third through sixth run little tables near their hallways demonstrating a technique or project we did this year.  I'll try to remember to take some photos (next week!!!) and let you know how it goes.
Finally, remember that it's not the end of the world if everything doesn't go perfectly.  I used to spend every night and weekend at school until the wee hours getting everything "just so" and you know what?  It's only one night, so don't drive yourself to an early grave: get a good system working and do your best.  It'll be great!  (Even greater with a system that gives the students ownership AND allows you to keep your sanity!)

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