Summer, Summer Time! Reflecting…

I don’t know about you but this has been a crazy, stressful school year!  For the first time I couldn’t wait for the year to be over!  I usually dread the end of the year… I do LOVE my job but this year was different.  I loved the kids, the art, the exciting projects, but the requirements that the State and district put on all the teachers this year (all at once) was overwhelming!  We had no idea what to expect, how these things would change our teaching, and the challenges that were ahead of us.  The kids were stressed and anxious and so were we.  It was an exhausting year!  So with that being said, I looked back on my year and learned some things:

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Of course, I’m being sarcastic here!

1) This was a growing and learning year in regards to APPR and SLOs… those darn abbreviations for “Teacher Evaluations”.  My department created rubrics and pre-assessments based on what our Professional Organization, NYSATA did.  I was on both committees.  I thought we did a great job with some adjustments, it could be really good!  We learned that our rubrics were either too easy or too vague in parts.  It made it hard to score when we were second guessing what to look for.  So, we need to work on language on those.  We also decided that we should mix up our focus each year so that kids don’t get bored with drawing self-portraits.  So, we’ll keep the format but adjust the instructions/ rubric language. All in all, i think most of us did very well.  Those art teachers that struggled did so because their principal’s made it difficult for them with higher goals and extra requirements…our union is looking at that closely!

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2) Assessment is not a one size fits all! I had to grade kids grades 3-6th this year…we were put on the report card. I wanted to find some way to assess without a lot of fuss.  I had to grade around 300 kids! Multiply 300 by however many projects we do and that equals a WHOLE LOT OF WORK! I adapted this rubric:

ImageI made it a half sheet and got rid of the comments part because I wasn’t planning on giving it back to the kids but rather use it as a way to grade and keep as a record.  It was pictorial so all grades could use it and it would be a quick score sheet.  Overall, it was quick and easy but I found that it really didn’t measure exactly what I wanted for each project.  I don’t want to have to make a new one for each project as that is overwhelming! However, I think I need to adjust the categories and I do want some other way for kids to reflect on their work.  I would love to find a way to digitally have them reflect and compile the data that way.  I have 3 computers in my room that they could go to when they are finished. It might take a bit longer to do. Wish I had access to iPads more frequently.  We only have one class set for the WHOLE building and they are used by the classroom teachers most of the time!  I’d love any ideas that you use in your classroom to assess projects!

Image3) Each year I get a little more organized.  I find ways to cut down on clutter and organize materials so that kids can access them easier and faster.  This year I started out strong and kept it organized until after the spring break… once spring break came and went, the materials piled up, artwork was everywhere and scraps were threatening to take over!  I was drowning in paper!  So, I need a better system.  Here I come Pinterest!

I have found a few great ideas to employ next year.  I ended the year with a clear out of a closet and moving furniture around… I moved a set of metal shelves (with the help of my custodian!) into my kiln room to house my kiln furniture and a place to put clay pieces that need help drying out faster or to put pieces that are a bit warm out of the kiln on.   YAY!  I also moved a rolling shelving unit that was under clutter and moved that into the closet as a place to put finished clay projects for firing! That will cut down on my shelves being used in the classroom for clay storage!

http://pinterest.com/pin/319544536031304799/

<a data-pin-do=”embedPin” href=”http://pinterest.com/pin/319544536031304799″></a&gt;

I plan to use those shelves for housing artwork for each class.  I need to clear the clutter and stop having piles of work everywhere!  I did make portfolios last year, but they were big, heavy and took up too much room!  I want kids to have easier access to them and put their finished work.  Hope this works better!

Here’s a link to my Pinterest boards for Art classroom Management:  http://pinterest.com/nysata3/art-room-management/

Image4) Finally, I learned that the grass is not always greener on the other side.  I really thought I wanted to go back to the high school to teach when there was an opening (I had been bumped when budget cuts happened 4 years ago) but after having that opportunity present itself and really looking at what I have at my wonderful elementary school and talking with others about what is happening at the HS, I decided I wanted to stay where I was!  It was a lengthy and agonizing decision but I really feel it’s the best one for me right now.  I may decided differently in a few years when another opportunity comes around but for now, I am happy where I am!  I have the full support of my Principal and staff and what more could I want?  So glad I didn’t have to pack up my room to move!]

So, what did you learn this year?

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