Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Art Blog: The FUN part

I am sure you have heard the expression “We make plans and God laughs!” I think about this all the time. I knew I was going to be an artist before I started kindergarten. I have been self motivated to create for all these years. This has been my highest goal. The one thing I didn’t want to do is teach. Hear God laughing now? LOL LOL LOL

I can remember being a student at Wayne State University in the fine arts department. I had such disdain for art “teachers” back then; I would make fun of the art education majors. I remember walking through THAT department and looking in the windows of the classes and make faces at all these studious, aspiring art teachers. I would even think “Look at them. They are all wearing nice clothes and sitting at desks!!” On the other hand, I was trudging down the hall in my grungy, paint splattered overalls and combat boots. I wore this uniform with pride. I was a PAINTER!

Even though I am an artist, it is so ironic I ended up teaching as well. I didn’t go looking for the job, it found me. When I got this job, I had never taken any kind of education class. I just had this intuitive sense how to teach kids. The tougher the kids, the better I teach. Weird. All this isn’t really surprising because my own formative years acted as my “internship”. All through elementary school, junior high, and high school, I always had art projects going. In fact, all my free time was spent making stuff constantly. I created sculptures, paintings, scenery for plays, costumes, etc. etc. In essence, I was my own art teacher and art education department!

A lot of those same art project ideas are used now when I teach. Maybe this is why I am such a successful teacher. I don’t have a teacher brain. I have an artist brain. The students love that I hate art textbooks and educational dogma. I just come to class and say “Hey, what if we made……..?????” You can fill in the blank.

Occasionally, a student will request to learn a specific thing. I do my best to rustle up the needed materials and we have at it. A couple of months ago, a little boy asked me to teach him to do animations on the computer. Hmmmmm… I had to think about this one. Most of my special ed students have a very short attention span. Also, they can get frustrated very easily. I wondered if they would be able to handle the rigors of animation even if it was simple. I decided to try it out and see what happened. I ordered FlipBoom Animation software. It is a very basic program. We started using it a few weeks ago. Just as I had expected, there were immediate challenges with anxiety, frustration, and anger. I told them this was a great way to learn patience. We were in such a hurry to use the program; I didn’t have time to make an example animation. I saw this as a big problem. They just didn’t understand what to do or how to do it. So this week, I took the time to make a very silly, short animation to use as an example to show them. When I showed this video animation to them, they laughed and laughed. It also gave them a little lift to keep trying to make their own little animation.

Today, I sat at my desk and watched this animation over and over. I was giggling like a little girl. I realized this is the FUN part of being an artist. We get to be kids for our entire life!!

I guess teaching isn’t SO AWFUL! LOL


Deborah T. Colter said...

Hi Sheree -

It does may heart good to know that there are art teachers like you in our schools! I wrote a blog post this very morning about kindergarten and the play. Creativity is about play. Yes, we are blessed to be artists and to continue that exploration of play - the fun part - our entire lives!!

Keep laughing! Keep Playing!

Sheree Rensel said...

You reminded me of one thing I forgot to say in this post. I don't call myself an art teacher. I call myself an "artist who teaches"! LOL

That works for me!!

Deborah T. Colter said...

No matter what you call yourself - whatever works for you - you are most certainly an inspiration to the children you teach! "A “Space Station” with boxes and beanbag chairs. Yes - This is how childhood should be." Thank you!


GILDA said...

That animation was so cute! Thanks for sharing it!