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[teacherartexchange] high school ceramics questions: beginning the year off right


Date: Tue Aug 08 2006 - 15:10:16 PDT

Hi guys, I have been so incredibly busy with new teacher orientations and my
graduate class. I now find myself with only three days to prepare my art room
and only five days before the kids are in front of me. I am so unprepared!
I still haven't seen my room because they kept telling me that it wasn't
ready. I don't know what I have or don't have. I don't know much. I report to
the school tomorrow, so I pray for good news.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to begin my school year.
I'm so afraid of making the same mistakes and falling back into the old ways of
last year. I'm trying to think of bellwork or rituals and structure, but I'm
having trouble relating it to ceramics. I really want my classroom to run
more smoothly than last year. I want the students to come in and know exactly
what they should do. While I'd like them to feel like they are working in a
studio setting, I feel like I need to balance that with some structure...I don't
want them to ever have to ask me, "What do I do now?" I had a lot of trouble
last year with organization and with students finishing at different rates,
with getting work turned it, and with getting the class settled down. I will
now be working with high school students, so I feel like they might be able to
work a little more independently; however, I know that I need some things in
place to keep them on track.

The following are some of the questions I'm asking myself and trying to
figure out. I'd love any comments you may have. Some of you have already given me
wonderful advice, and I'm already thinking of ways to implement that thanks again!

1. Procedures: How should I begin every day? Should I have the students
respond to open ended questions about art in general? What other things can I
have them do every day for the first five minutes or so? Should there be an
end-of-class ritual?

2. Sketchbooks: Should I have them keep a sketchbook...maybe have them
respond to a quote or open ended questions or piece of work at the beginning of
class...and have them use it for sketches of their designs? Do you guys make
them sketch out ideas before beginning a ceramic piece?

3. Cleanup/duties: Should I assign jobs every day or every week? Should I
assign a jobs per class or per table? How do I make the students accountable
and responsible...make sure they do their job?

4. First lessons: Should I begin with a history of ceramics, maybe show a
film...then move on to some techniques...start with coil pots, move on to pinch
pots, then pinch pot animals, and then slab work?

5. How should I grade the work...rubrics?

6. Deadlines. Should I have clear deadlines, how do I make them turn their
work in on time? How often should I fire work?

7. Class critiques/reflection: What are some successful ways to conduct
class critiques of work...or should groups critique. Do you have them write a
reflection for each project?

8. Should I give quizes, vocabulary?

9. What do I do now: I want a sign posted to remind students of the things
they should be doing when they finish early. What kinds of things do you
suggest? Could I have a list of projects they can work on when they finish
projects early? Should I allow them to work on the wheel when they finish early?

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