It’s been a couple of months since I blogged. Lots of happenings, too much to catch you up on for the most part, but I do have a really awesome update to my classroom.
First, I can say that shaking hands with students is a winner. It has been an amazingly easy transition.. except that it took about 2 months to feel normal to me. 🙂 Students responded immediately and now just expect that I will shake their hands everyday. So with this element in place, I felt comfortable adding a new piece of the “Capturing Kid’s Hearts” mindset, but I tweaked it to work in a fine arts environment!
This is the ambassador piece.. but I called it my Art Ambassador program.
After I welcomed all students into class today, I explained that I needed help with a few things in and around our room. I told the classes that I felt that it was wrong that the students in a class didn’t know each other’s names and that it’s hard to feel like your are on a team when you don’t know who is on that team!
So to that end, I wanted to invite students to take leadership roles in the classroom and that each week we would welcome a new ambassador who would shake everyone’s hands and say their names. I explained that shaking hands should be a natural and comfortable thing to do not just with a teacher or adult but with their peers.
The Art Ambassador will also be in charge of leading “Good Things” three times a week to start our class day. Why? Because as much as I want to lead “Good Things” and as much as I believe in the process, life and teaching get in the way of good intentions if there is no one keeping me accountable! So with students helping to keep us going and moving, I know that we can do it!
And finally, the Art Ambassador is responsible for welcoming guests in the classroom, for explaining to new people about our classroom and offering the new person an opportunity to sign our social contract.
And here is what I learned today. Quiet students who don’t necessarily get called on, were remembered. Students that have stories to tell, but are afraid to voice them did so. Students that had moved in late, had schedules changed or were otherwise “new” were given an opportunity to get acclimated and learn names.. and they smiled.
Bottom line. Asking for Art Ambassadors allowed me to ask for help from the students. I asked for leaders. I asked for accountability. I asked for teamwork.
And I got it.
I’m not a new teacher. I know that there will be bumps in the road. Heck, it wasn’t perfect by any means today. In one class, after three students gave very superficial “good things” I said that I realized that this class doesn’t trust each other with their hearts and that we have to work on being trustworthy friends and uphold our social contract better.
But my takeaway.. a quiet foster home student’s “good thing” that she barely whispered to the class.. that she is being adopted. Yeah. Gut check. We cheered for her.
My prayer is that I remember these moments of transparency and love and team and that I hold myself accountable and ask for my Art Ambassadors to lead the way.