I discovered International Dot Day totally by accident. The art teacher before me left some amazing children's books about art and art history. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds was one of those treasures!
I immediately recognized its value for my teaching and have used the simple, accessible message to start up every year. "Make a dot and see where it takes you" can help build a classroom environment of understanding, awareness, and grit. The character's engagement, perseverance, and eventual gallery directly correlate to the pop up art show we put on to build a sense of both student unity and appreciation for quality work.
We celebrated International Dot Day for the third year in a row at CIS and it just gets better and better. Admin, teachers, and upper school students get involved alongside the elementary. Parents come out to see their child's handiwork. Students peruse their class's art and are often found making encouraging comments to friends (and gasping when they find that their homeroom teacher can pull out quite a drawing too!)
And Dot Day is just one great example of how energy-building a pop up art show can be! The 2nd Graders' Tin Robots graced the hallways last year (and will again this year) as a resounding success. Displaying art can do far more than any amount of discussion in terms of children learning to be confident in their own expressions and proud of their own hard work (or, in some cases, learn that choosing to work hard really does make a difference in the end.)
Our Art Department has joined together in this understanding and is being creative with how to display art in these pop-up shows. Our school's beautiful outdoor planning means that art gets hung on clotheslines tightened between poles and on boards protected from rain under tents. The Music Department has let us borrow their blocks for musicals to prop up for hallway shows and the library often donates a bulletin board to use for a month's gallery too!
How do you display art at your school? How have you found it helpful for student engagement?
"Self-taught" has such a ring to it, don't you think?
Only I hid behind that label in twisted-up-identity for such a long time. If I don't get training, then I can't be expected to be good, was a fearful stance I took for years. Until I decided to make good and literally practice what I preach, well teach. I always fill with passion when educating students about the health of growth mindset and neuroplasticity but also chose to remain stagnant in my own artistic development out of fear of failure.
Finally, I decided to attend a school I had kept in my periphery since hearing about it in 2014: The Florence Academy of Art. And to seek out training in oil painting which is something I'd desired since childhood! Oh, to finally learn the secrets of the masters and create realistic portraits combined with my own personal expression!
Except that there really weren't any secrets. I must admit I was disappointed to realize the same, simple truth I share with my students: it comes down to practice. How much are you willing to persevere and try and try again? How much are you willing to pour yourself into your work and press up against learning when it feels like a wall? How much can you strengthen your will and perspective into focusing on the moments of mastery within the process (and the character-polishing and skill-building process itself)?
Learning feels terrible.
As an adult who has put herself through learning Italian, volleyball, scuba diving, and oil painting all within the last few years, I've become reacquainted with the learning process. And truly, learning feels terrible. It's the bits of mastery that keep you going. As teachers, it is our calling to help students understand and accept this process: it is our responsibility to support and guide them within it. Grit, perspective, goal-making, and engagement are all necessary to learn anything.
How have you found ways to help your students understand and work through the learning process? Do you have books, exercises, or video clips that assist you in scaffolding this work?