Things I Have Learned
Mental Notes to Self for Teaching Grades K-5
· Saying that Monet had cataracts sounds an awful lot like Cadillac’s. (This led to several 2nd graders rapping about Cadillac’s).
· Using sticker labels for names on artwork is extremely time saving in lower grades.
· Kids love to talk about their cultures.
· Don’t take questions in the middle of stories. It only leads to five more questions and half a class off-task.
· Kids love having nicknames (beautiful, bud, big guns, darling, sweetie, etc).
· Getting tips from other teachers about particular students helps to make connections.
· Seeing red and yellow mixed together to make orange for the first time, is literally the most mind-blowing experience a kindergartner can go through.
· When cleaning up, tell them an amount of scraps that they need to pick up before getting in line.
· If something needs to be done, ask the whole class who wants to do it. [i.e. who wants to collect the scissors? (every hand in the class will go up) vs. please pick up the scissors (nobody will want to do it)]
· Using props while making art is an instant engager.
· Telling the students that you can’t wait to brag to their teacher about how good they are is also an excellent engager.
· Take chairs off of the desks for the students in the morning. It’s worth the couple extra minutes of work time.
· A little pat/rub on the back can completely turn a kid’s day around.
· Tempera paint doesn’t always wash out… Usually not.
· There’s no need to be a paint snob in the younger grades. They are always thrilled to paint. Powdered paint works just fine.
· When a kid tells you that a paint shirt smells too spicy to wear, it needs to be washed.
· Having a deep voice comes in hand.
· If you can make a work of art 3D, do it.
· If a string of full school buses drives by you, expect to wave at every single bus.
· As a man, expect to be called misses and vice versa.
· If one kid stops for a drink of water, then they all think they need to.
· The faculty will treat you like an extended family member.
· If it sparkles in anyway, it is the equivalent to real gold.
· Repeated positive affirmation is key during work time.
I had the pleasure of being requested by Jen Dahl to be her student teacher in Black River Falls for grades K-5. Coming into student teaching, I had never worked with elementary students before so I was pretty nervous of how it would go. I was pretty set on teaching middle/school students. That has all changed since working with Jen. I can legitimately see myself teaching in an elementary setting now.
Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President. Apple Teacher.