Thursday, January 19, 2017

Let's Talk About Time

In my little art education world, we've been discussing the issue of time a lot lately.  The issue of disparity and being rushed and all of that.  I do honestly believe elementary art teachers are some of the hardest working teachers as far as supplies and materials, managing "stuff" and planning.  I see seven classes every day (that's seven different grade levels): three in the morning back to back, then lunch/plan and four in the afternoon back to back EXCEPT on the third day of our rotation, when I teach two classes at my home school, then pack up, get in my van and drive ten miles (!) to another school in my district and teach two back to back classes there.  I finish there five minutes (or less) before my daily contract time ends. And a side note to say that this year's schedule is not great--my day starts with second grade, then fifth, then fourth, then lunch/plan, followed by kindergarten, then third grade, then first grade (in my building, or second grade if I'm at the other school), and I finish with sixth grade (or a second class of second grade at the other school).  Sixth grade at the end of the day is NOT FUN.  Especially right after first grade.  
There's another elementary art teacher in my district who sees TEN classes in one day.  At two schools.  Two 40 minute classes and EIGHT 30 minute classes.  Mercy.  I can't even. . . 
All of this being said because sometimes I worry that students aren't getting enough individual art experiences.  In the reality of time, there's a LOT of sharing of paint and other materials.  I wondered if it was making a big difference in the work and experience of my students. So earlier this week I decided to set up individual tempera paint for my kindergarten (no sharing for color mixing):

These are little coated paper squares that the cafeteria
used to use to give out butter.  No more butter allowed, so
they passed them on to me.

I was able to do this because I have plan time right before kindergarten.  Now, I usually have them paint with something like this:

Totally an old picture that was from something else,
but you get the idea.
So with the individual paint, my kindergarteners painted their alphabet vases:

And painted:

And painted some more:

The next day I did it the regular way (sharing paint with a partner or the whole table/four students), and I have to say, there really wasn't a big difference.  Here's a side-by-side comparison of students from different classes who are very similar in their work habits and abilities:

Individual paint on the left, shared paint on the right.

I guess I learned something from this, and that's maybe I've overthinking it???? Maybe I don't need to run myself ragged for students to have extra individualized materials??? I'm still gonna think on it, and as teachers I think we're always looking for ways to improve.
I've also had lots of "I didn't learn this in college" moments lately. Mostly related to managing all the stuff and supplies of art teacher land. Maybe 17 years of experience is when the real learning begins, what do you think???

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