Teachers Connect
Jul 13, 2015

Institute 1: Perseverance

The first day of Art, Books & Creativity Institute is often overwhelming – new ideas, time restraints, having to continue even when you are tired.  But these are the very restraints students face everyday in the classroom.  What are some ways you coped with restraints today and how can you translate that perseverance or persistence to your students?  How might you  help students keep their focus and stay on task?

41 Responses to Institute 1: Perseverance

  1. JUDY says:

    When individuals have the opportunity to learn and create at the same time it makes for an enjoyable time and class. The whys and hows and complications and mishaps about starting the day becomes distant and what remains are stories and laughter and how one triumphs over the unknown.
    .

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      And the more we can keep the joy in that and see it as a journey with hills and valleys we do triumph over the unknown!

    • Betsy Kreutzberg says:

      I agree with Judy and I am wishing I had talked some of my teacher and / or artist friends to come to NMWpmen in the Arts also.

      Question: When is the reunion week… where we will make additional books?

  2. Katie Cushman says:

    I had different kids of restraints today:the restraint of time on our art books, and the restraint of not coming to writing as naturally or comfortably as I come to art making and discussion. My art students do also deal with the restraint of not being able to finish a project in one sitting. Just as you all did let us know that we are all doing a wonderful job our own special way and that we would have other times to finish, this is what I try and do with my students-this makes them feel that their effort and work is being valued and noticed.

    The writing exercises were a really good reminder to me that it is important to power through when a project feels out of our comfort zone and that it is important to “stretch the brain”! The way that the writing was broken down into concrete steps that I could “bite into”was extremely helpful and an excellent idea that I can apply to my students.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for your reflection on the question. I believe one can feel excited about a project and also feel the restraints of time. I love that you make the effort to value and notice the work and effort of your students. I’m glad you found the writing helpful…concrete steps are so helpful to all of us!

  3. Ellen Rosenthal says:

    There was a lot of information, instructions, and tasks today, but I didn’t really feel overwhelmed. I felt really invigorated and creatively challenged. (Sorry).

    Maybe it was the adrenaline rush of being at the institute, but I really think it was also the quality of the lessons we did today. For the non art teachers, making a flag book and learning about different types of paper was a brilliant idea and fun for us all. The identity portrait book was also really engaging, and being led through it step by step helped keep it manageable. The lesson from this is have a great activity that is fun and stimulating that the kids will want to do, and then break it down into manageable steps.

    I think what also helped was being assured that, yes, there was a lot to do, that it was OK to make mistakes, experimentation is always a good thing to do, and that our first ideas do not have to be the final ideas, and so on. It really helped take the pressure off with the expectations geared more towards the process than a finished product. In my art classes, we do a lot of brainstorming and sketching before we do our final artworks, so what we did today was very familiar and effective.

    Finally, I think having the time restraints also helped in that we knew just how long we had to work so we could gauge our time and not be surprised when the “time’s up” signal was given. I do this with my students, giving them 12 more minutes, or 8 minutes, or 3 minutes, etc. “and then we will……”. It was also nice to be assured that we will be able to come back to our books at a later time.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      It is so wonderful to read the comments and find that many of you were jazzed and not overwhelmed..yeah! Knowing there is time to come back or come in early is so helpful and we are glad that can happen, too!

  4. Karen says:

    Give each student a “permission slip” to make mistakes, take risks, lose track of time, not worry what others think, feel nervous or unsure, and probably misspell some words.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Great idea to give students a permission slip – I would have loved having that even in college!!

      • Betsy Kreutzberg says:

        I’ve done a variation of the “permission” to make mistakes, but I couch it as : “If you have never done anything like this before, please, please, please be patient with yourselves. I think we always give other people around us lots more leeway and credit than we do to ourselves. Leave the criticism behind you…”
        and then another statement I sincerely believe is that “people are much smarter than any of us really know or may ever know”. Students take in so much about the adults around them, so I think it is not WHAT we teach that is important but it is our delivery that shows our sincerity, honesty, and respect evenly.

    • Stephanie Greene says:

      What a great idea! It is so very often that in my own classes the students never really finish a project. This is due to the very limited time I have with them to teach (roughly 25 minutes for a lesson/activity plus 10-15 minutes of book check out). There are so many students who get upset that they are not getting the activity completed, and they feel anxious and disappointed. By giving them a “permission slip”, I think you are are freeing them from the pressure of the final product. I am lucky that, although I give grades, I can look at the effort put into the project for my assessment and not just the end result. I would like to make a physical “permission slip” for all of my students if they are ultimately focused on the task at hand. I think this is a good way to keep them engaged without the pressure of completion. Please note that I would still love a finished product, but I am also realistic with the amount of time I have to work with 🙂 – Stephanie

      • Kathleen Anderson says:

        Time – the blessing and curse of the school day! It is nice to see an idea from a colleague and then figure out how to make it your own.

  5. Rachel Hull says:

    I teach perseverance (we call it stamina) directly. When students approach a moment when stamina is waning, I freeze the class and we deconstruct the moment. I will create an anchor chart that captures their ideas as to why they are tiring out and then a list of strategies for moving beyond those ‘low” moments. After that we revisit the list when those moments reoccur.

    When chunking assignments it is helpful to have students, or small groups of students, to have access to a timer to ensure they are completing tasks within the time given. Time is still an abstract concept even for older students. That physical and concrete reminder is helpful.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      That is such a great skill you are helping students develop. It will serve them throughout life! Thanks for the strategies chart idea!

  6. Madeleine says:

    I had difficulty relating to the question. The day flew by and I was disappointed I had to stop. When I have included art/creative activities in class they tend to creep into the next block in my lesson plan. Students can’t seem to get enough hands on learning, especially making something. Going off task may be a direction worth exploring.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I glad you can’t relate to the question. And, going off task my seem like a choice to students. I hope you find the rest of the week as exciting!

  7. Daniela Shumate says:

    I tried to learn the basic concept of folding and to render simple illustrations. I can build upon these ideas in another project . And I can continue concepts (like the poetry and narrative writing )in my journal…because I thought of more ideas on the metro home!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Folding is so very important. It is sometimes difficult helping students understand how important until a book they make does not look finished!

    • Denise says:

      Folding is absolutely an essential skill when doing bookmaking. It’s a skill that students can practice often, and even those that it doesn’t come to easily can eventually master it with a few tries. It helps those who don’t feel “artistic” feel successful to make a wonderfully constructed book.

  8. Kay B. says:

    Today was a great reminder to me of what it feels like to be out of your comfort zone in a field of study that is not necessarily your strength. Many students feel math is hard and not their strongest point, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try and be successful. It’s important to have a class discussion on perseverance whether it’s solving word problems, writing an essay, or completing an art project. The first step is to try. I almost think there is a greater sense of accomplishment when it’s in an area where you are not gifted. “Wow- I can do this!” For my classroom, I feel including art is a way to keep students focused and on-task, because it allows them to be creative and not so focused on finding a correct answer. Also, students love having their geometric artwork displayed in the classroom, which gives them a sense of accomplishment which students need to feel in order to persevere in other areas such as problem solving.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for bringing the perspective of a “an artist in training”. I do know that “wow-I did this” feeling and it is one all of us as teachers want to instill in our students!

  9. Mary Jo says:

    By being engaged in the activity, definitely helped cope with the restraints, along with knowing there will be other times to finish. When students are excited about a project, they get started quickly.

    Having individual discussions with students and showing excitement in what they are creating helps students keep up their stamina.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Engagement does help all of us deal with the restraints – extra time, as well. Thank you for bringing in the idea of conversation and excitement about what the student is doing!

  10. Stephanie Greene says:

    Whenever I attend a PD for teachers, either in my content area or during a staff meeting, I find that the presenters tend to “throw” so much information at me, due to time, volume, and passion. They seem to forget that students need time to process, and teachers are students, too. As adult learners, we can become overwhelmed with the instructions, the content, and the time constraints set upon us much like our younger learners. It is important to learn how to manage this feeling in order to continue through the learning experience…and then help our students manage this feeling so that they too can be successful.

    Although I was overwhelmed with new information today, I felt that I was given the time to process what I was learning each step of the way. The session was broken up into digestible portions with time to think, discuss, apply, and reflect. I think that because the flow of the program was planned and facilitated in such a way, I was then able to “give myself permission” to learn and process instead of “perform”. For me, although the end product is important, I did not feel forced to finish at that moment the project at hand. The non judgmental statements made by both the instructors and participants made me feel that I could be successful in this setting even when I was feeling intimidated. The encouragement reminded me that I need not compare myself with others and there is room for exploration at my own pace.

    Extending these ideas into my own classroom, I wish to provide to my students the same safe environment to foster persistence when overwhelmed and perseverance when intimidated. I want to provide small bites of information to digest and process, guide with encouragement, and allow for exploration at an individual pace. All of these come with a great need for proper planning and preparation to address the needs of each learner. Realistically, this can be quite challenging, again due to time and space restraints, not to mention the desire to get the information across to the student. By proper planning, I can help my students through their possible frustrations and lead them to a successful product.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thanks for the comments and reflecting on your own experience then connecting that with students’ experiences. Small bites, encouragement and individual pace….good combination!

  11. Rachel Blumenthal says:

    Today’s class was definitely fast-paced and chock full of material. It was helpful having multiple teachers because I think it gave us a chance to look at our day through varying lenses. One presenter really liked writing, while another really preferred the artsy and creative part of it. Still another presenter told us her ultimate goal was really to make sure we didn’t get bored and fall asleep while she was talking. Although the day was packed, having different presenters made it feel shorter in a way. Snacks are also always a plus! Although I am not able to provide snacks for my students, I can help by breaking down large tasks into smaller parts.

    Another huge help was the knowledge that no one was going to tell you that you were doing it wrong. There were plenty of people to help if you got stuck, but there was no one telling you to use specific words or specific art materials. We were free to use what WE wanted to use. I know our students enjoy that freedom as well.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Even small feelings of freedom in school are valuable. Freedom to make choices and to experiment without fear of “right and wrong”. Yes, good snacks are always helpful!!

  12. Rachel Blumenthal says:

    My big question that came from today has to do with timing. As a reading specialist, I pull kids for 30 minutes 5 days a week. What would be the best way to use that time to make books and do the lessons with my groups? Each ABC lesson looks like it uses two 45 minute sessions to complete. I’m open to suggestions!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Great question and it is one we have struggle with throughout the years of research and in the institutes. I will bring it up with Denise and Rosemary and then we can look at the those 45 minute spans and see what is most important and then re-do the lesson! Thanks.

  13. Madeleine took the words right out of my mouth. The only real restraints that I felt were an issue for me today were time and the occasional stalling of the creative engines working in my brain.

    The ongoing challenge that I face in writing about myself was much easier to overcome today. I think that this is due in part to the different options we were encouraged to consider. Now that I’ve experienced how it alleviates project anxiety, personal choice is something that I will definitely be building in to more of my lessons. It increases student/artist buy-in which in turn makes them want to stay focused and on task!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      It takes more time to give students choices, but you are so right – it does increase the buy-in and personal satisfaction in the end. Thanks!

    • viviana says:

      You would be surprised at who the writers are and how much many students really do enjoy writing.

      This year, I had a visiting artist come to my school. Her project was to create a pop out book of imaginary beasts. I thought to myself, “Students will love to create the pop outs but as far as the writing goes, they’re not going to be too interested.” Boy was I wrong! They took her examples and came up with great characters and really got into describing each of their monsters. I even had some students thatI weren’t really interested in creating a pop out monster. They simply drew and got to writing.

      It was very impressive to see. This project was completed with students in 5th grade but could have easily been adapted to any grade level and been just as successful.

  14. Jonathan Bustamante says:

    Today was a great experience -it moved quickly but I felt it was geared to all educators. I appreciate the great amount of time and effort that has gone into making this professional development work by the museum staff and presenters. Having materials there and ready to go really impressed me. One concern I have relates to our target audience – children in Grade 4 – how realistic is the integration between language arts and the making of art books? Some children are quiet and not always the most verbal. Writing is not that easy at times.

  15. hadley says:

    The like / dislike list helped to get ideas flowing. Students either know right away what subject they are going to focus on or seem to be lost in the land of the unknown. I liked this concept of lists to help them arrive at their own collusion. I know that this past year the class that I struggled with the most was one that met the period before lunch, even though it was just 11 am I had some say they were just thinking about lunch and not what was going in class. Hungry vs Art, the teacher pays the price of unwillingness in some projects.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      It’s amazing how hunger drives us sometimes even as adults! It would be wonderful to have a project so interesting that student hunger would not be an issue…perhaps one of these books is it?

  16. One way that I was able to adapt to some of today’s constraints was that I had multiple projects to work on. While some tasks may have required more preparation or refining, once I began the next activity and reached a certain point, I was able to revisit some of the areas and continue working until I was satisfied. It was helpful having the opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with other educators in my group. I would observe how they approached a particular task, and used that to gain inspiration for my own version. I think it was helpful for those at my table as well, to share strategies for teaching art content, and techniques for material exploration.

    In the classroom, I think it is critical that students know what materials and resources are available to them. Graphic organizers/thinking maps, visual aids, check lists are helpful to review and reflect upon the lesson in terms of a strategy, and utilizing the sketchbook as not only a place to plan, but to create work that serves a different function than the art object.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Organization is a key point and how to do it in a way that is functional but rewarding for the student is important. We hope colleagues will be supportive not only this week, but in the future!

  17. viviana says:

     I definately felt like some of my students do. Writing is not my strong suit. I felt like those kids that tell me, “I can’t do this” or “I don’t like this so I’m not going to do it”. At the end of it all, I was able to do it and it wasn’t so bad and felt proud of what I had completed. This is something I’ve always tried to communicate to my students and I’ve explained why anothrr classmate is not allowed to draw for you.

    I liked how we were given options in doing the same writing assignment. If you were comfortable writing, you could simple write your poem but if you weren’t, there was another option. I also liked how it was guided, we weren’t simply told the assignment and asked to do it.

    Both of these things are things I will keep in mind when putting together projects for my students. I will try to have more than one way of doing the same project because in reality, not everyone is comfortable doing things the same way. It’s been a long time since I had experienced this in a classroom setting.

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