Learning Encounter: Art Teacher, University Students, Children

Article excerpt

LEARNING ENCOUNTER: Art Teacher, University Students, Children

MY EXPERIENCE AS A FIRST YEAR art teacher brought me to the realization that I had no exposure to the elementary classroom other than the customary student teaching semester offered fairly late in the curriculum. I believe earlier inclusion of short-term classroom experience would improve the program. Thus, I extended an invitation to students at the local university to come to my elementary classroom before they entered the traditional student teaching semester.

I invited a student architect, potter, metalsmith and printmaker to visit my classroom and immediately discovered that everyone comes out ahead -- the prospective teachers, the students and the classroom teacher. These artists who would be student teaching in a short time appreciated my lesson plans and demonstration of how materials might be ordered. They saw how the classroom is set up and how discipline and interest is maintained. I believe this made the university students less apprehensive than they might have been about their pending student teaching assignments.

The university students were also a motivational catalyst for the elementary art students. For instance, when the architect student came with a bulging portfolio, the children were amazed at the models, blueprints and renderings. They had a much clearer understanding of what an architect does. Students whose fathers were architects brought in more models and drawings which generated even more enthusiasm about the whole idea of design and construction.

It was sometimes a great deal of work to set things up. For the ceramics student-artist, I had to borrow a potter's wheel, order clay and arrange the art-room space as well as update the kiln equipment. She gave a general history of clay, demonstrated wedging the clay, and threw clay on the wheel. The students participated in each step of the demonstration, taking notes from the blackboard, feeling the clay and actually helping to throw cylinders and bowls. Students were waiting before and after school, lining up to work until I finally had to say, "Lights out!" so we could go home. The delight of the students in the demonstrations and their discussions about it to others resulted in the Student Council purchasing a potter's wheel for the coming year. …