Friday, March 14, 2014


 Soul Searching 

Art & Professional Development

 Some weeks ago, my administrator asked me if I would share my expertise and create a face-to face, hands-on visual arts session for the upcoming PA day. I was honoured and excited but at the same time terrified.

 Knowing art is not everybody’s passion and being conscious of the PA day being the last day before March Break, I knew it had to be something everybody was able to do, enjoy, engage in, and would feel successful, as well as being able to reconnect it to their classrooms. As you can imagine there were many challenges during the planning stage; two of them I thought were worth sharing because they relate to what to consider when planning daily learning experiences.Challenge number one was to know the learners enough to plan the experience in a way that everybody in the room, regardless if they were a skilled artist and excited or somebody who stopped drawing or painting as a child and was now possibly anxious and maybe reluctant to even try, had an entry point into this creative experience.Challenge number two included creating a meaningful and authentic experience for participants but at the same time it had to be arranged so the idea could be utilized in a variety of applications within a K – 8 context.

The Experience
 To create a communal feel, the session started by reflecting on several paintings and quotes. Participants were asked to share professional and personal thoughts about art and being an artist.The warm-up required some switching from the analytical part of the brain to the visual, perceptual part. This was supported by visuals and a number of drawing activities.The final experience was a mix of two techniques; wax resist & watercolour in combination with blind contour drawing.



During these experiences, group members were able to reflect on how the arts can help all learners succeed,how the arts can open up and differentiate learning, and how it can honour more than one way of showing students thinking and learning. Moreover, how students than can transfer those skills like problem solving, reflection, engaging and persisting, observing and expressing to other areas of the curriculum.

 The Set Up
 Currently I am enrolled in a Kindergarten AQ course through York University. I have to thank my inspiring instructor Joanne Babalis for introducing me to the idea of invitations for learning or more commonly known as provocations.
To share back to staff from what I learned so far in my AQ Kindergarten course part one and two, and from discussions with my amazing teaching partner Jocelyn, the decision was made to set up working spaces and add invitations for learning in separate areas in the room to explore. The intention was to show how curriculum expectations across grades can be introduced in a non-traditional way and lead to inquiry-based learning.
  At this point I want to thank my amazing teaching partner Jocelyn Schmidt to help me think through those difficult planning stages, the set up, and facilitating the session. Thank you for everything you do! 


From my perspective, the P.A. session was full of exploration, talk, reflection, developing creative thinking skills through art, engagement, slowing down, being in the moment, taking the risk of trying something new, fun and laughter, and most importantly building a community. By sharing experiences, we build relationships amongst us and between our students, linking us to the big idea of community.

                                    Enjoy the Masterpieces


Comments before the session:
“Feel to ridged, its hard to take time and dive into something new.”
“I feel that I haven’t accessed any artistic side of me in years..”
“I feel self conscious about my ability in art.”
“As I got older I shut off the creative artistic side in me.”
“I  was not good in art as a child, makes me anxious to have to perform.”
“I struggle and feel like I am not good at this.”
“I liked art as a child, but realized I wasn’t good at it at all, so I never continued with it because of how it felt.”
“I feel nervous to be judged by others about what I create.”
Comments after the session:
“ I had so much fun.”
“It rejuvenate my inner child!”
“It increased my confidence in trying something new.”
“I liked to try something different, and it was a different experience. I looked at it from a different angle.”
“It felt great to work out of my comfort zone in such a safe environment.”
“I feel  more open and I even enjoyed the process.”
“I feel I was able to create something beautiful with no art background.”
“ I am capable of different forms of art !”
“I feel free, calm, relaxed..happy! Like I could do this again!
“What a wonderful exploration for us this afternoon. You have made us think, smile and brought the artist out in all of us .Bravo!”
“Fantastic! An amazing way to end the day. My students would remember this for years to come!”
“I feel happy! Blind drawing helped me realize that maybe I can draw or be creative!”
“I feel calmer, a bit emotional too, and happy with what I created.”


  Food for Thoughts

Reflecting upon our experiences during the session ,we discussed the fact that not only in the arts, but in almost all subjects we lose children’s engagement over the years in school. Why is this happening?  During the session we did some soul searching around that question........what are your thoughts?
I want to thank all participants for being open to reflect and share. You were able to slow down and you took the time to engage with your inner artist and connected with others.
A Special Thank You to Mavis for letting us change the library in an art space.
Thanks Mel and Vanessa, Mavis, Jocelyn, and Erica for your help setting up, and all of you for your outstanding support. And Greg, thank you for the challenge and giving me this amazing opportunity!

You made my day!