Stepping Stones WAYS TO PREVENT BURNOUT Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms. by heidi o'hanley asking for an entire stage, think about your priorities. Ask your co-worker what it is they need, when they need it, and if the students are capable of doing it. I am a huge fan of student involvement. M y busiest time of the school year is from January to April. Since I travel, the bulk of my displays, contests, shows, props and kiln loading take up most of the time, and by the beginning of May, I am tired. Many teachers who take on too much feel burned out before the end of the school year. I would like to share with you some suggestions for making it through. school year, I write everything down in my calendar. I collect dates for displays, musicals, contests, and anything else that would be extra on top of my teaching. Having it on your caldendar, and preparing in advance, prevents you from being overwhelmed with projects. I can’t deny that items pop up without me knowing, and as much as we dislike when it happens, if it’s in your job description, it must get done! 1 FOLLOW yOUr CaLeNDar. In the beginning of the pride in their own work and are more than willing to help out. When school props are needed, I try to see what the students can do. When students have ownership over their own work and collaborate with others, they gain more pride in themselves and in their school. I encourage students to do more because I want them to see that they can make a difference. It’s not that I don’t want to do the work.I’m still there guiding them. I help them start the ideas and plan the framework of their designs. Once the main shapes are started, the students take off with their own creativity. 4 GeT THe sTUDeNTs INVOLVeD. Students have a lot of 2 IF THe WOrKLOaD GeTs HeaVy, FIND a LessON THaT LIGHTeNs THe LOaD. With all sculpture proj- ects, paint set up, and storage concerns, sometimes you need that project to help give you a break. Drawing projects are the best to use in these situations because materials are the fewest and there are still plenty of concepts to introduce to the students. You can also tr y different projects that are quick and fun for the students. As an example, Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures make great inspiration for a kindergarten project. All you need is coffee filters, markers, spray starch, and silo cups. Have the students write their names on the cups with markers, then have them decorate the filters with different colors. Spray the starch over the filters on top of the cups and leave them in the classroom to dr y. Your result is a “Chihuly” paper sculpture for the students to have at home! It’s perfect to leave behind in the classroom when pushing the cart from room to room. COLLaBOraTe! Sometimes it’s good to break from your routine and plan a lesson with a colleague. As an example, I collaborated with the school social worker for the character theme “Integrity.” We worked together to design a project around Earth Day, which gave many ideas for themes related to integrity (caring for the environment, taking responsibility, and working together to keep the community clean). My coworker and I collaborated to plan the day, classes participating, and where to work. At the end of the day, 22 classes created 8-foot wide paper murals that were hung around our school gym, and we ended with a gallery walk! There were so many bonuses from this event: the students got to collaborate on a theme and their design, teachers worked together to plan meeting times and materials, it was a nice break from normal routines, and everyone involved had so much pride in their work, not to mention an opportunity for a school-wide press release! 5 LearN HOW TO say NO. You may be the go-to person for visuals in the school, but you also have your own curriculum to worr y about. If another colleague asks you for a display, or a prop, or visuals for their own program, think about what you have to do first. If they ask for a quick sketch, by all means, help out, but if they’re www.ar tsandactivities.com 3 At the end of the school year, we’re tired and burnt. We all get that way even when we’re super motivated. The key is to never give up, and always try new things. You need to find ways to prevent the burn out, and spicing up the curriculum is a key motivator. Don’t get tired of your job, even with traveling. It’s a rewarding experience and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. n Heidi O’Hanley is an art teacher for Wilkins and Lyle Elementary Schools. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthe travellingartteacher.blogspot.com. 13 x 80 years • june 2013
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