For me, one of the most appealing aspects of
teaching elementary students is that they are
always open to exploration, whether it is of art,
ideas, or media. Their enthusiasm is a constant
reminder that we, as art teachers, need to be
equally open to exploration beyond our own
personal comfort zones and preferences.
We should teach more than just our favorite
artists, periods, and styles of art and media. We
ought to be willing to investigate unfamiliar art and cultures,
different purposes of art, and
untried media. We should admit
that we do not have all the
answers and be willing to learn
along with our students. We also
need to explore ways to demonstrate the power of art to students, parents, administrators,
and the community.
Our initial purpose was to explore the possibility of developing a professional learning
community for the elementary art teachers in
our district, as we need the principals’ support
in providing substitutes so we can meet regularly as a group. Yet our presentation has sparked
much more than that—positive feedback, new
awareness and interest from the principals, and a
request to give our presentation again to a different group of administrators.
Recently, Denise Clyne-Ruch
(another art teacher in my district) and I gave a presentation,
Picturing Art Education, to our
elementary principals about the
content and meaning of what we
teach, and how we, as art teachers, make meaningful interdisciplinary connections through art
and technology every day.
For our presentation, we began
with two Animoto videos of my students’ work,
The Art of Math ( animoto.com/play/f2Fd9fz-
S1US158Q5alMkcw) and Art and Science (anim-
Then we shared a PowerPoint ( www.slideshare.
net/nwalkup/comprehensive-or-dbae-art-education) that gave an overview of the national
and state standards for art education, connected
with lessons based on human relationships with
horses. (I’m in Texas, remember!)
We followed this with an overview of Daniel
Pink’s A Whole New Mind, and a look at the
revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, in which
the highest order is now “creating.”
Nancy with Ghulam Sarwar, a truck artist from Pakistan,
at the 2009 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Photo
by Bill Yarborough.
In hindsight, a presentation such as this
seems like such a simple but effective idea, but
I don’t think it had ever happened before in our
district. You might explore the possibility of collaborating with other art teachers in your district
to address your administrators as a group with a
similar presentation. I’m a great believer in asking for things. The response to your request may
be “no,” but it is amazing how many times the
answer is “yes.” So start exploring!