smART is a series of one-hour art lessons that are facilitated by the future art educators in the Art History 310 course. The program was offered to any local students grades K-12 that are in public, private, or homeschooled. This is the first semester that Lycoming has held such an event for the students to practice teaching art to other students and has been well received throughout the Lycoming community. Surprisingly, registration for this event filled up in less than a day of it being available! As we started planning for this event, we were shocked by the number of people who want this type of program!
The program is run by myself, Travis Fernandez, Monica Serafini, Brittni Smith, and Holley Fuller under the direction of our professor Mrs. McDonough Varner. Before the first day, we had a lot of planning to do! We created lesson plans for each day, made name tags, and designed fun activities for the students to do as they arrived in the morning. These tasks seem simple, but they are important because we are learning to ask (and answer) all the right questions so that our students and their parents know what to expect and are comforted by our preparation.
On day one, our one-hour session flew by as we tackled the sign-in procedure, shared a presentation at the beginning to introduce ourselves to the group, and lined up the students so we could take them to each of the three classrooms we were using.
For the first morning activity, we let the students decorate their nametags before taking a seat in the lecture hall. Before starting our presentation, we found that it was a good idea to show everyone a fun video as an icebreaker, then each of us introduced ourselves with images we chose to include on a slide. In order to separate the groups, we created name tags for all of the students with color coded names that indicated whether the student was in the red, green, or blue group. This detail was very important because it helped create a smooth transition from the lecture hall to the classrooms. Monica shined as she had each student raise their hand and line up when she called their group color!
On day one, I held my first art lesson! The night before, I was nervous and unsure if my lesson was manageable for my group of Pre-K through 3rd grade students. I prepared a jewelry lesson where my students made paper beads and thumbprint pendants. I was up before the sun on the day of so I could cut all my paper and make sure all of my materials and classroom were ready for my students. I am relieved I gave myself extra time to prepare because it also helped me relax. (Plus, it gave the coffee time to settle in!)
Presenting at the start of the day also calmed my nerves, so when I shared my lesson with my group it felt easy and natural. Looking back I realize that I could improve on techniques to make my students more involved with teaching my lesson, such as asking questions or having a helper follow along. But, with the amount of time that was left in our day, I think it was more effective to show them what to do and have them start right away.
At first, rolling paper was a challenge for some of my younger students, but their eagerness to learn and make art helped them create many colorful beads! During my lesson, I shared with my students that it may be hard to start rolling their paper, and I think this is why many of them were successful in doing so. By the end of the first day, was happily surprised at my students’ abilities and it taught me to never underestimate what students can accomplish in such as short amount of time.
As a first-time teacher for about 13 students, I was thankful that I had one of my classmates, Monica, as an aide during my lesson. Apart from learning things from my students, having Monica there helped me realize what I need to work on as a teacher. She has presented lessons to students previously, so her classroom management is much stronger than my own. By watching Monica, I learned new techniques on how to get the attention of my class and how to address students individually if they got off task.
Going through these short five weeks, I know I will be learning a lot more about myself as an educator. I am already addressing things I need to work on as well as what I am doing well with when it comes to being a teacher in a classroom. Wrapping up day one was bittersweet as I thought about how fast the time goes by and everything that still needs to be done. I think we all wish we had more time with these kiddos because we have so many ideas for projects we could do with them! It will be interesting to see the culmination of all the smART students’ work on April 8th for our art exhibit in Pennington Lounge! If you would like to see this journey unfold, smART at Lycoming has created their own Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts!
You can also see smART unfold by following Schai’s blog!