Saturday, September 14, 2013

Art & Me: Get to know your students while they get to know you worksheet.

Art & Me page 1

Art & me page 2
Several years ago I had a class that I just could not connect with.  They hated me from the get go.  No matter how cheery or enthused I acted, it usually turned into bitter sarcasm by the time the hour was over.  It was miserable.  Week after week I would try new, fun, exciting projects - but I usually had to modify everything.  The blatant disrespect kept art class from being a nurturing experience and made it torture for me.

At the beginning of my teaching career a wise principal told me that nobody wants to be told what to do by a stranger.  Isn't that true?  No one wants some lunatic in the Target parking lot yelling at them for their driving. Whereas, if your husband says, "You just cut that guy off!  What are you doing?"  It's a little more sympathetic.

I knew I had to make a connection with this class, no matter how much they fought.  I had the odds against me though.  I only saw them an hour a week.  I was only in the building two days a week.  I was new to their school, so I had no past relationship.

I made up the Art & Me worksheet so that I could share a little about myself, and hopefully learn more about them.  It wasn't completely successful.  It wasn't like we all immediately bonded or anything.  In fact many of the students' attitudes remained the same until they left in 5th grade.  But, what it did do was open up some conversation with the kids that really did like art class, and really did want to be there, but were often taken in by the behaviors of others.

Now I have been teaching the same kids for several years.  I'm not the new guy and almost all of my kids I've known since kindergarten.  It makes it easier.  I know that doesn't help new teachers who might be struggling to make that relationship, but keep in mind, it's not really you.  Those tough kids I taught didn't really hate art class, or hate me.  Even though it seemed like it, and they probably thought it, and even though I heard them say it several times.  They just didn't want some stranger gettin' up in their business.  They were already getting told what to do and how to act five other hours of the day.  Some dorky art teacher spouting about color theory was not on the radar.
Here is the version I passed out to my class.

The teacher has to fill in the bubbles before copying, and your kids fill in the other parts.

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