Challenges and Surprises

Over the last 10 weeks I was able to experience many new situations at the secondary level and the primary. I found that there have been many challenges and surprises during this experience. I have found that the majority of challenges I experienced were at the primary level and lye the child’s behavior. I was also surprised by how quickly obsessions and frustrations arose over small imperfections. At the secondary level I was surprised that art coursed were organized by year level rather than by media and lastly I surprised the school’s lack of three dimensional resources.

Classroom behavior is a huge challenge for grade prep, one and two much of class time is spent reminding children how to act appropriately in class. In many cases children are very excited for art class but fail to listen, sit quietly or to respect their others. Often times we must pause our activity and review how one should act. One of the grade one/two classes has huge difficulties respecting one another. I have found when teaching this class I need to remain very calm. I have learned to be very patient and direct. When working with the younger grades especially the ones with behavior difficulties I must be very precise. I must break assignments or tasks down into very simple pieces. Once they complete a task we will move on to the next. Once children have become accustom to this method of teaching and their behavior improves I begin to give them more freedom. This freedom maybe giving students a handful of tasks or playing a game where we can review the art concepts and objective in a fun way. Freedom is only given if students remain respectful toward one another.

I was also surprised by the amount of quick frustration seen in some of my students. When working with the class I take a concept and break it down in to small parts slowing building it up. For example prep one learned about Wassily Kandinsky a famous Russian painter. Over the course of 3 weeks we learn about Kandinsky, color, collaboration and collage. We began our project by tracing three different sized circles. One boy became outraged by his tracing which was a little messy. I explained to him no one would see his rough lines because he would cut it out during the next step. Even after my comment the young boy became fixated on his outline. Becoming more frustrated each time he erased and redrew the circle. I was very surprise. I observed his behavior and gave him some time to himself. After he cooled down I sat down beside him and this time I gave him a blank sheet and offered to hold it down. As he traced I reminded him to trace lightly and slowly. It turned out fine, he smiled and move to the next step. He began to color and was no longer frustrated and anger. I was amazing by how quickly his anger had disappeared. After this experience, I have a better understanding of how some students can become quickly overwhelmed by a task that may seem very simple.  Now I remind all my students to do their best and by doing their best they are doing a great job. I stop by those children who over think their project and remind them they are going great. I complement those who need confidence and push each child to believe in their skills as well as challenge them to go further. These experiences have given me the opportunity to reflect on how many of my students may think and feel.

At the secondary level I experienced a whole new set of surprised. I was first surprised that the high school had almost no tools or supplies for three dimensional art. The high school did offer a course called materials which was essential woodshop but did not offer any other class where they could learn how to create three dimensional forms. The school did have a kiln but they did not have a way to safe ventilate it when running therefore were not allowed to use it.

I was also that art courses were organized by year rather than by medium which is how the majority of school’s organize their arts courses in the states. For example sculpture, painting, drawing, metals, ceramics, etc. In Australia the teacher decides what mediums to use and teach in each year. This was an interesting approach and I feel it gives all students at every grade level an opportunity to explore new medias but feel that when the classes are specific it give students the chance to truly explore and refine their fine art skills.  By providing medium specific courses and providing advance classes students can test their skills and think toward their future.

Over these placements I have experienced many challenges and surprises and am thankful for all of them. I look forward for the many challenges I face in my future teaching career and hope that I can continue to grow and learn from every challenge I experience.


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