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[teacherartexchange] Art Club


From: Stacey Scott (gadfly1958_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Sep 07 2008 - 07:55:34 PDT

I killed myself with art club last year. This year, I'm getting my masters (AND National Boards in art) so my motto has become "just say NO" -- so no art club, no choir. I didn't get paid for either, but they were my passion. . . however, this is how I set up Art Club -- a long story said short (I hope).

I teach K-6, I see kids about twice a month for an hour. I usually teach over 100 a day (we are a collaborative of prep providers), so I wanted art club to "fill in blanks" for students, giving them a place to explore media in more depth, esp. to do clay since I am (supposedly) a ceramic artist (who never gets to do her own art, lately).

I offered ARt Club First come, first serve, whoever gets their permission in first - - the rest on a waiting list. Only 4-6 graders and only 24 kids would be in it, and we'd meet every Friday (only day I had free) after school for an hour and a half. Don't show up more than once, and you're kicked out.

I had about 150 kids wanting to be in it -- of course! So I changed it to 25 kids every other week; that way, I could have 50 of them in it. I teach in inner city, and attendance was sporadic (many of them go to Mexico on the weekends and leave on Fridays). Keeping track of them was a huge, time-consuming mess. I revised the whole club and went back to every week but with 30 students.

It was still a TON of work (what was I thinking?) and I got a huge amount of needy students who had emotional problems . . . . the behavior was gruesome, and class management is normally one of my areas of expertise. I finally established an election so they could choose a Pres, Vice Pres, two secretaries . . . then let THEM handle each other, kick out kids that weren't behaving, etc. I told 'em "It's your club, you should make these decisions." Now they had ownership, and it helped hugely.

All this said -- the problems, mistakes, messes -- I also must say that because of the population I serve, Art Club was mega important. It became what made life bearable to the misfits -- they formed friendships and a commradarie that was touching. One boy said he wouldn't be able to handle life without art club, and I believe him! So despite the problems I had with them, I kept going till the end of the year because they needed it. We culminated with a field trip where we ate, played, and sketched the entire day at a local art museum and park. It was a beautiful ending to a dauntingly difficult project.

And this year, I already miss it . . . . . :-)
Stacey in San Diego


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