SchoolArts Magazine

September 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 20 of 58

M A N A G I N G T H E A R T R O O M O ne day, a group of eighth-grad- ers approached me and said, "We want to do something big. We want to put on a show or plan an event for the whole school!" As their minds wandered into grandiose ideas of huge musical productions or groundbreaking talent competitions, one student suggested, "Hey, what about an art show?" This was followed by a chorus of, "Yeah, an art show!" With pleading smiles and hopeful eyes, they looked at me. I put down my fork, midway through my lunch, and thought, "Wow! What a great idea! The district has never had an art show; this would be amazing! Wait, do they real - ize the work needed to store and hang more than 250 artworks? Will enough students help? Where would we hold it? Who is going to coordinate every - thing? I'm the only art teacher here. What if no one comes and it's a huge flop?" And out of my mouth came the words, "That sounds awesome! How can we make this happen?" Student-Driven Planning That was the last time I used the word "we." If you give middle-schoolers decision-making power, a positive direction, and the word "Go!," they will accomplish great feats. By the end of that day, the small group (led by one motivated young lady) had already asked the principal for per- mission, checked the calendar to plan dates, talked with the student council advisor to coordinate support, and started a list of job responsibilities. By Friday, label templates had been created, display ideas were Googled, and to-do lists assembled. Each day, someone asked, "What else can we do?" This snowballed into sorting through art projects, checking inven - tory, typing labels, and making signs. As the date approached, the principal asked the young lead coordinator if she would present her plan to the school board. I was so proud as she confidently described the show, their plans, and the wonderful art! Assigning Tasks Soon, a sign-up sheet was created to coordinate the evening's tasks, which included exhibition designers (set up), docents (to describe the works and answer questions), security guards, tech coordinator (to set up projectors for student-created animation videos), entertainment (three students playing guitar, piano, and banjo), attendance taker, and cleanup. Expanding the Show A scavenger sheet was prepared so young visitors could take a closer look at the art and have a chance to win a prize. Additionally, the Fam - ily and Consumer Science Educa- tion teacher coordinated with the team and her students in preparing a Cookie Challenge/taste-testing for visitors; the student council coordi - nated a bake sale; and two sixth-grad- ers planned a small booth to advocate for world hunger relief. The Big Event The night of the show, all hands were on deck. The event was so well coordi - nated, I had the luxury of just observ- ing and facilitating. Within an hour, the show was ready, pizza arrived, and students took a quick break before the opening. When visitors began to arrive, students jumped to their stations and greeted a steady stream of support - ive families, school board members, administrators, and students. I had seen all the works of art, but it was an incredible sight to view the entire exhibition of ceramics, sculp - tures, drawings, self-portraits, paint- ings, and the eighth-graders' social issue paintings with their artist state - ments. Many visitors were intrigued by these social issue paintings and commented on the maturity and effort shown. Some of the more controversial paintings continued to inspire conver - sations well into the following week. Student-Driven Success When the student-driven event con- cluded, the crew stayed to take it all down. As the art was delivered back to my room, I heard, "This worked great, but next time we can…" across the Let's Put on a Show Dannielle Arneson I ou give middle-schoolers decision-making power, a positive direction, and the word "Go!," the ill accomplish great feats. CONTINUED ON PAGE 45. 16 SEPTEMBER 2017 SchoolArts

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