Artist in Residence

Recently, a colleague nominated me for our local ABC Channel 5’s One Classroom at a Time Education Grant for $1,000. You can view the video of the SURPRISE all-school assembly my school had for me here!  (Warning: I cry like a baby!)  I was completely blown away and so grateful for the support I received from everyone!  My immediate thought when I was awarded the grant was not to buy supplies for the art room, but to give my students a learning experience that would impact their lives for years to come.  I believe that a collaborative mosaic would be an excellent and authentic example of such an experience.

The school I teach in is a very new school and a very large school at that, with an enrollment of over 800 students in 28 sections.  Believe it or not, I see all of them for 45 minutes once a week.  For the last three years, we have been working hard to define who we are and to build a strong community of educators, support staff, parents and students.  I believe this collaborative work will allow students and teachers a venue to express our identity, voice our aspirations and build school pride.

One of the reasons I chose a mosaic mural is simply due to my previous experience with mosaic artist, Concetta Morales, while I was in Junior High.   This encounter impacts my life to this day; I remember collaborating with peers to plan a design that reflected our school culture; working with others to create an image greater than what we could on our own; leaving behind a remnant of who we were.  That mosaic mural still hangs in the hall as you enter the Junior High; a collection of individual tiles held together by glue and grout, and a metaphor for the community created within school walls.

I hope I can provide a creative experience like that in my own art room; in fact, I am hoping to get the very same artist I worked with over 16 years ago to work with my students!

Have you ever invited a visiting artist into your classroom?

Please share how it affected your students and their work!

What advice can you give about securing and integrating an Artist in Residency experience?


Posted on June 27, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I was there and I cried like a baby, too! Congrats on the wonderful achievement- You deserve it and will do great things!

  2. I am SO SO glad that you are bringing in an artist-in-residence! I think it is one of the most valuable experiences, if it is done with a lot of planning and research. We’ve had our share of great AIR’s and some that were not a quality experience for the kids or the teachers and what separated the two was the research we did when figuring out what kind of residence we wanted. Our last residence, World Music Teacher Tim Gregory, was fabulous and I wrote a whole series about how we planned for this residence here:

    Congrats on the award and have a GREAT time with your residency! 🙂

    • Susan –
      Tim’s lessons look and sound so great! The students really look like they are having a blast! On top of the $1,000 they are giving me a “CultureAll” workshop – the problem is that I think I only get one workshop – which makes it tough when you teach 800 kids! How do you pick just one group or grade level? I think I will just have to see what cultures each grade level is studying in S.S. and choose one that interests me most! Thanks for sharing! I’m excited and nervous!

  3. Wow! That is so amazing. You teach a lot of students in one week. I don’t know how there is enough time in one school day! I teach 550 for 1 hour or 1.5 hours a week and thought that was a lot! Do you have contractual plan time? I’m still stuck on the 800 number and to tell you the truth it makes me a little mad. I feel like asking art teachers to teach more and more students each week is comprising us as people. Sure you can have the same quality art program but it usually means not eating lunch or going to the bathroom. I have to say, you work HARD and you deserve 1,000 WAIT NO, you deserve 100,000 because you are doing the work of 2 art teachers! You are amazing (sorry for the rant on numbers it’s just a topic that makes me tick!) I hope they deep done now what they’ve got because that is an impossible schedule!

    • Erica-
      We don’t have contractual plan time. It seems crazy! The even crazier thing is that there is another school about 10 blocks from us that has 650 students and that teacher only has 23 classes – 5 fewer than myself….which equates to 5 more plan times a week. I’m hoping that in 2012 after the new elementary opens our numbers will go down and stay down…but the projections show the numbers going back up almost immediately! Thanks for the support!!!

  4. Okay I forgot about the art in residence part. . . LOTS of special artists I was able to work with like Wendy Ewald (author of I WANNA TAKE ME A PICTURE) her book inspired me to start literacy through photography workshops in the inner city with children then I actually got to WORK with her teaching public school teachers how to incorporate photography and writing in their classroom. It was a week long residency and very powerful for me.
    So many more but my MOST life changing one was Alvin Ailey dance troop came to our school to pick 5 children dancers for one of their shows. I was chosen. It meant a lot to me because at the time I was 10 years old and dancing over 30 hours a week in classical ballet. I never felt like I was as good as the other girls no matter how hard I tried, how much my feet bled or how little I ate. When I, the girl with glasses braces and long scraggly hair, was picked over my pretty talented friends I couldn’t believe it. I think it was the start of my career as an artist. I learned during that residency that dance was so much more then a series of movements put together in different combinations to create different ballets. I learned that dance was felt, the body was meant to express, and YOU can create your own vocabulary you didn’t have to stick to stuffy tradition. My favorite ballet instructor cried when he saw me perform with the Alvin Ailey dancers in my small solo. He said he never saw me dance like that. If I had money I would invite that dance instructor to come work with my kids at school. He is the only ballet instructor that truly made us into artists instead of athletes.

    Sorry for the long winded comments!

    • Isn’t it amazing how an AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE can completely change your life? Our students don’t get enough of those in their lives unless their parents are interested in going to museums and seeing broadway musicals. WE have to bring it to them because no one else will. Thank you so much for sharing and I don’t mind your “long winded comments” one bit!

  5. As for MY students now. . . I haven’t been able to bring artists in YET. I did work with a nutritionist all year who helped us do nutrition lessons with the school and our Green Team. She has been very instrumental in helping us get a green house. She has a lot of connections that we don’t. The kids LOVE seeing all of us, me, the nutritionist and PE teacher bounce ideas off each other and it gets them excited to contribute. We’ve all come up with a ton of ideas together and it is fun to let the guest take off with the children as long as you set up the structure let them stray from it!

    • That is so great that your school has brought in a nutritionist! I wish more schools would do that. I also wish they would change their menus so that student could have more than just a random form of chicken nuggets or pizza. It makes me sick! I love that you all work together – it truly impacts students! They start to see us as a team and not just a little island.

  6. On the cultural front – one of the nice things about Tim was that since he travels all over the world, he could bring in music from all world regions. Then, when each grade level worked with him, he simply focused on the culture they were studying in Social Studies, or even tied into a Language Arts or Math objective. Each grade level worked with him twice during the week (we worked in the gym so the whole grade could be there together), and then at the end of the week, the whole school gather together and did a concert for each other. Each grade stood and did a performance from their region of the world. I know that there are MANY teaching artists out there who are versed in all kinds of areas of the world – you just may need to add that to what you’re looking for!

    • That sounds amazing Susan! I love that they performed for each other – students really love that. And by performing they were able to learn more and most likely will remember it longer! Very cool idea – I will keep that in mind! Thanks for sharing!

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