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Lesson Plans


Control Freaks

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
David Zimmerman (fastedy)
Sat, 1 Nov 1997 22:12:51 -1000

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I have been reading with interest all of the responses to Michelle's
complaints about a "control freak" classroom teacher. As an
Artist-in-the-Schools teacher, I encounter many different teacher
personalities. A key to not losing my cool is to try to avoid ego battles
with teachers. (I have been a classroom teacher too, so I know it can be
irritating when someone else comes into your room and starts telling you
how to do things.) So many of the teachers and parents I have contact with
are simply intimidated by art and artists. Their own insecurities about
being creative, "artistic" and spontaneous are usually feeding their need
to control what goes on when an "artist" comes into their space. Its in my
best interest and the kids to take them by the hand and lead them to the
wonders of art--not alienate them further from it.

One suggestion for combating this problem is to get the teacher involved in
making the project at hand. Sometimes I suggest it sweetly, other times I
just flat out give them the supplies and tell them to "try it" in a way
that will make them look stupid in front of their students if they refuse.
I want them to sit at a desk and make the same thing the kids are making.
This approach meets two objectives. First, they learn by doing that art
can be fun and that everyone can do it. They may even offer some tips for
the kids you didn't think of. Secondly, it gets them out of the
teacher/controller mode and into the creator/maker mode.

I don't like the teacher to leave during my class time because in a class
of 30+ kids, I need their help--especially during clean up. Since a lot
of my art lessons compliment academic subjects, I want the teachers to
model the notion of interdisciplinary study. If art is segmented into
little 45 minute periods where the teacher steps out, I lose some of the
connection I'm making with their unit. Its the same thing I battle when a
student says to me, "hey, this is art, what difference does it make if I
spell this word right?" I want students to see that all learning is
connected in the scheme of life. Perhaps if you approach the teacher as a
collaborator (how can I help you teach
what you have to teach using art as a tool?), she will more than likely
feel less threatened.

I know this is not easy. There are very difficult people in this world in
all professions. Everyone just wants to feel important about what they do
and we are all very protective of our turf. If this teacher doesn't really
want you or like you, maybe its best to volunteer in another class.
Still, it would be nice to set winning this old hag over to the art fan
club as this year's goal! Good luck!

Deb Rosenbaum

The Surgeon's Motto: "Never say 'oops!', always say 'there!'


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