Monday, May 10, 2010

Professional Development cont’d

I wasn’t always blessed with many talented artists around me. In fact, before making the move here, most of my support came from classroom teachers.

Long before I joined my current district with all my talented colleagues, I taught in 3 small towns in Iowa. In the first position, I taught 6 months for a teacher on maternity leave and I just tried to keep my head above water since it was my first full-time teaching position. I was in a great carpool w/experienced teachers though, and they shared a lot of basic survival tips to help me along.

In my next teaching assignment, I taught in another small town with 3 elementary buildings. The art teachers met a few times to share ideas but I learned the most from a 5th grade teacher down the hall. This wonderful woman just happened to be my former 2nd grade teacher! She took me under her wing and taught me all the ins and outs of school politics, how to deal w/parents, going the extra mile for the kids who need it while being a champion for those with special needs.

In my last Iowa school, our district consisted of an elementary school, a middle school & high school all under the same roof – but different wings in the same building! Finally - I had another Art teacher nearby to bounce off ideas & share my successes/troubles with! While that was great, I continued to refine my classroom expectations & routines with the help of the classroom teachers. It was a very close, congenial group. Five of us drove to work together most every day. The 20-minute drive to and from school gave us time to share ideas & strategies. Twenty some years after my move, I still keep in touch with some of them.

At this same time, I also became involved with the Very Special Arts Festival. (“VSA Iowa promotes the creative power of Iowans of all abilities through arts experiences. VSA Iowa uses the arts to improve the capabilities of children and adults with disabilities in learning and expressing themselves. “ Through this group, I met several art teachers in the surrounding area. In addition to planning events for VSA, we also enrolled together in a ceramics class at a local art museum since we enjoyed being with each other so much!

It was all these experiences that helped shape me into the teacher I am today. I hope you take advantage of all the opportunities around you to learn from others and grow as both a teacher and an artist! Join a carpool, take a class at a local art museum, become a member of an arts group – it all adds up to a well-rounded teacher…

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