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Lesson Plans

holiday lessons horror

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Melissa Enderle (Melissaenderle)
Sat, 8 Feb 97 22:15:18 -0000

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Holiday lessons seem to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps it stems
from some negative experiences in my last school district. That school
district had just increased its elementary art time from 35 minutes to 50
minutes a week. I was hired as a result of this increased time. It was
my first year of teaching and I was eagerly teaching the techniques and
content that I had learned in my training and student teaching. The
students were learning about artists and artworks, both of Western and
non-Western cultures.
Just as I thought I was making a significant change in the minds of the
students, the principal motioned me to come into her office. She began
blasting me, telling me how the teachers were upset and threatening me
that things would be even worse unless I spent a significant amount of
time making holiday art and decorations for the teachers for their
classrooms. After all, she added, we gave you that extra time.
Shocked and upset, I wasn't sure how to respond. I knew there was so
much more to art than making holiday decorations, but I didn't know what
rights I had. I was well aware of the fact that I had several students
who for religious reasons were unable to participate in holiday-oriented
activities. I could and would not deliberately exclude them from any
activity that I was teaching. Thankfully the art department head
reassured me and encouraged me to talk to the assistant superintendent.
The assistant sup. met with me and the principal and explained that I was
not hired to "do" decorations nor was I required to do holiday art.
I firmly believe that we need to respect our students' needs and
beliefs. Something that may be blatently offensive or exclusionary
should be avoided if possible. If teachers want cutsey decorations for
their room, let them do those crafts- often formed with constricting
limitations. I'm hired to teach art and raise the expectations and
knowledge to levels previously not expected. Perfectly cut hearts or
hand turkeys don't quite cut it.


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