Our school is the largest in the state of Connecticut with 3,400 students enrolled. Many of my students receive free and reduced-price lunch and are from a single parent household. We struggle with attendance for students who lack strong parental support at home. A student that misses 2 or more days a week creates a constant cycle of trying to catch up, being overloaded and disengaging.
Some of my students find solace in the arts.
A number of my students struggle academically because they process information differently. These students are failing or on the edge of failing multiple classes. For them, school becomes a defeating environment. Visual, kinesthetic and project-based learning are a big part of my art room.
Many of my students are English Language Learners. Over 40 different languages are spoken in the district which makes the atmosphere diverse and fun. All my posters and instruction material are printed in multiple languages. I often sit next to students and teach them to draw traditionally or digitally without using words; we just exchange the same drawing.
Some of my students struggle academically and disengage in school due to lack of success. Sometimes not succeeding is due to having little support at home or needing to be reached utilizing different learning styles such as auditory or visually. When disengaged students’ needs aren’t being met they cut class, act out behaviorally (repeated detention and ISS) or begin not coming to school at all. My art room reaches these learners and the materials I’m requesting reinforce that their opinions and creative voice matters.
We are low income school and our budget restraints are high.
For paintings I have students’ gesso cardboard to paint on because it’s cheaper. Students must gesso both sides to avoid warping but it still is somewhat warped. I buy glue by the gallon and have students apply it with popsicle sticks. One of my more outspoken students calls this “Ghetto Glue Sticks” Of course I respond positively with, “This is not ghetto, it’s out of the box thinking!” Truth be told, subpar materials sends a clear message that your work is of less value. A real canvas and glue stick do make a difference. It shows my disengaged and struggling students their ideas are personal voice are worthy of standard supplies. Think about how something as simple as a blank canvas can motivate and reach the students that needs a positive reason to be in school. Ask yourself, “Would you like to present your art and creative voice on piece of cardboard box or a canvas?”
Please consider how important some these materials are to my struggling students. Not only the canvases but the printmaking supplies. Printmaking allows my students to share their art work. I try to create small printmaking assignments in the size of notecards because they make unique gifts.
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