Friday, May 2, 2014

How to End the School-Year in Peace and Harmony (or how to keep them engaged til the end!)

There are thirteen school days left in the 2013-2014 school-year for my students and me. . . But, it’s not like we are counting (hahahahaha!).  This is the time of year when spring-fever sets in, Friday-itis is practically an epidemic, behavior gets wacky, and students simply don’t want to work. I mean, I totally get it. Standardized testing (that epic “thing” that we stress to students they must do well on to pass to the next grade) is over. So in their minds, “what is the point?” Of course, as the Art teacher, you know the point is that we can create, learn, and stretch our minds every day. Learning is an everyday, all-your-life experience.  But, well. . .the school-year is long and it is almost over. . .So, it can be hard to keep your passion (and your students’ attention) for learning.

Here are my tips on making it (happily and in one piece) to the bitter end.

1.       Don’t let your classroom management and/or behavior protocols get lax. Routine is really important (especially in the spring when fieldtrips and concerts abound). Maintain your management. I’ve written quite a bit about behavior management in general (master post is here), and there is a great article over on The Art of Education about the end of the school (just click here).

How awesome is my colleague's shirt?!

2.       It feels like now is the time to use up all of your paint, colored pencils, oil pastels, paper, and what-have-you. . . But, often you don’t get to make your supply order until the beginning of the next school year. The art supplies you have now may be what you have to use during the first few weeks of the next school year.  . . So, be just as conservative and protective as ever. And, if you plan on leaving your position: Be kind and think of the person coming in after you; s/he would also like to start the year with supplies (bonus! I wrote a funny letter to the art teacher before me here).

3.       Having said all of that: Now, is a great time to de-stash. I keep piles of donated recycled materials that I don’t necessarily need to have rolling about my room for years on end (and they take up a ton of storage space too). Consider customizing student projects to make use of surplus and/or random donated materials.
So, I'm a hoarder. 

4.       Now is the time to clean out your cabinets and supply closet. Allow early finishers to “help” you in this endeavor. Kids LOVE cleaning out/up the art storage. Mostly because they know there is random stuff you don’t need that you will give them, and they think looking at all the random art stuff is cool. Plus, this means you don’t spend all of your post-planning de-stashing.

5.       Incentives are more important than consequences during this time of the year. Look, the kids can only serve so many detentions, ISS, OSS from here on out.  And, they have short-timer attitudes. You will get more out of them with incentives than consequences (and this is just generally true too). I let classes earn points towards a project of their choosing during this time of year (more about this is here).

Here are some of my favorite projects for this time of the year:

Artwork by Room 9 Art
Artwork by Room 9 Art

Use up all of that scratch paper you've been collecting all year to make a beautiful still life (like Mrs. Crosbie or anything from the Painted Paper in the Art Room blog). 
Artwork from Mrs. Crosbie Blog
Artwork by Demetri Martin

Design an Art History project wherein kids make it into a "pop up art." This great example is from Art for Elementary Teachers. I've make versions of Van Gogh's bedroom and Van Gogh's chair using this method! 
Example by Art for Elementary Teachers
Artwork by Refrigerator Good

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