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<< I would love to know what kinds of research has been done on educating this
kind of student and hearing about other's experiences with them. I have
noticed so many differences in abilities and learning styles that I would
love to compare with other teachers. I just don't know of any other art
teachers working in similar circumstances. >>
I don't know what kind of research was done on this. I would love you to
forward anything you get that's not given to the list too.
One of my student teaching experiences was in a tough inner city school. It
was a neighborhood grade school surrounded by weekly shootings, drug dealers,
domestic violence, garbage and just general neglect. I had a class of 1st
graders--FIRST GRADERS--who fought throwing chairs, punching, used sexual
language to harrass. It was so depressing--they looked like little baby
angels but acted like angry prison inmates. But at least at that age they
were relatively easy to "control" for the 50 minutes. The class from hell was
the 4th grade. I was warned not to interfere if students started beating on
each other because they tend to go after the teachers then. These kids were
so out of control and so full of rage. They responded well to longer projects
that went quickly from step to step. Maybe because it kept them anticipating
and played to their lack of extended concentration.
I also taught the other 4th grade class (which wasn't as frightening). We
tried to make birth certificates. (Linked to southern black folk art using
techniques like symmetry). Anyway, the focus of this lesson turned out not to
be on any type of art but on teaching them the name of the city they lived
in!! Some of them didn't know how to spell their parents names! Others
thought they live in a country called Wisconsin. I started to wonder who
people were talking about when they say that today's kids are tomorrow's
leaders. I learned quickly to stay away from lessons that depended on
previous accumulated knowledge. (How's that for restrictions!) I found it
was also better to base art activity on something they were currently doing
with their classroom teacher. <-- Probably the best kind of learning for
these kids is learning the same type of thing in many different ways, from
many different perspectives, many different processes, etc.
Good luck to you! That sounds like a lot of pressure doing what you do day in
and day out. Keep your chin up.....along with your guard!