Marisa Renee Brown
Elementary Experience: Werner Elementary School
During my time at Werner Elementary School I found several strengths and successes in my teaching. One thing I was successful at the elementary level was providing enthusiastic delivery and positive classroom environment for my students. By showing my excitement for art processes, I was able to share that enthusiasm with my elementary students.
Another success I found was in classroom management. Because of my cooperating teacher’s in place classroom routines, I was able to more effectively transition and bring the class together than at the middle school. I found that by having routines for each art class, students were aware of expectations and were better able to meet them. One of these routines involves a classroom art report which awards students’ positive behavior with a system of stars and paws. This system of positive reinforcement works excellently for most elementary students.
A third success I experienced at the elementary level was in planning and presenting lessons that got my students excited. By considering their interests, I was able to motivate and engage students in my lessons. It was successful for me to start with an idea they would find fun and engaging and then build my lesson around that.
I learned so much from my cooperating teacher and my students during my quarter at Werner Elementary School. I learned that I would be most comfortable teaching this age group. For some reason, perhaps relating to the mindset of the students, I am able to be an even better role model and a more positive influence to elementary age children than middle schoolers. While I could enjoy teaching older students, my passion for teaching flourishes when I can teach students of this age.
I also learned that documentation can be an easy part of the daily routine while teaching. By the end of my second placement, I got into the habit of documenting each part of the process. I was glad to have found an easy way to accomplish this because it is crucial to document the learning going on in the art room for assessment and advocacy purposes. In the future, I would like to give more documentation responsibility to my students.
Finally, I learned that the elementary art room can be demanding in ways that teaching other levels is not. The four day rotating schedule was hard to get used to and there was more prep work than at the middle school level. However, by having well thought out organization systems in place, it eased the planning and instruction portion of my placement.
If I could re-teach my lessons at Werner, I would make them shorter and less in depth. Although I did not “lose” my students by the end of the projects, I felt that my lessons were too long to be practical in an elementary setting. At the rate I was teaching, I might get through four projects a year with my students. This number is okay but it makes it difficult to explore many types of art and media in a school year.
I would also like to incorporate cross-curricular collaboration in order to emphasize the ability of art skills to transfer to other disciplines. Teaching elementary art gives instructors the unique opportunity to explore ideas that the classroom teacher has introduced to the students. This could make the art projects more meaningful and complex for students.
Finally, I would like to learn to balance my own art-making time with my art teaching time. I had a really hard time doing anything that was unrelated to teaching this semester. But as I develop a library of my own lessons and resources, I want to be able to practice my own art-making while I teach. It is so important to me to continue working on my own artwork, and by doing so, I can provide an artistic role model for my students.