How funny, I was thinking of doing a mandala as the first project
because I thought that it would be easy and allow them to express their
personal selves. Today went okay. My sixth graders were pretty good.
The seventh grade class as a whole wasn't terrible, but a few already
started giving me trouble. Instead of acting mean and tyrannical, I
was funny and enthusiastic. The kids laughed. I asked them to write
down their expectations of me as a teacher and of the class. I also
asked them to tell me about their favorite teacher and why that teacher
is so good. Most of the students told me that they thought I seemed
cool, funny, inspiring and "straight." Lol, so I think it went over
well. Now the hard part will be continuing to be very firm, nipping
behavior problems right away while keeping their respect and keeping
the class fun. I was going to have the come up with their own rules
and make signs or something, but we didn't have time. Should I do that
tomorrow or head right into a project?
From: Judy Decker <email@example.com>
To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group
Sent: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 06:07:22 -0500
Subject: [teacherartexchange] First Day Lesson for Middle School
Greetings Stacie and All,
I know I have told you this before.....but I will say it again. Kids
take ownership of the rules if they help make them. Have each table
brainstorm on expectations for the classrooms (try to avoid "rules").
Collect the rules each table come up with. Then in the even tally like
responses. You will see that with very little tweaking their
rules/expectations WILL be your expectations. Write the expectations
as positive statements. Post THEIR Expectations and give each student
one to sign that they also agree that those are the expectations for
success. I also posted a "Bill of Rights" for the art room.
The VERY best first day art lesson I did was the personal mandala (I
used this for two years). They did not finish it in class.... they had
to turn it in at the end of the week. I did not grade "talent" on it.
I only graded completeness. 10 points if finished - 7 if 3/4 done (no
one had less the 3/4 done to my recollection).
The personal mandala is NOT about religion... it is about CHARACTER
education. Character counts.
Here is the link to the lesson... I changed the handout just a bit:
They were instructed to take it home and go over it with their
parents. I never had anyone (parent or student ) complain about this
assignment. It was a way to get my expectations across -- bring in the
parents..... and get through to the kids that ART was the most
important subject in school.... because WE were going to do projects
to meet their goals - express what they put in their personal mandala.
Emily - if you see this - it sounds like you are well on your way!
Some people were born to teach middle school (smile). I think you are
one of them.