I have been really excited to share this activity for a couple of months now. This week is the perfect time because I am presenting this project this weekend at the Art of Education 2016 Winter Conference. At the conference, I will go over the who, what, when, where and why a bit more aggressively but wanted to give you a little preview of the presentation and activity in Hassan's Art Studio.
Where did this start? I saw a presentation with George Couros @gcouros over a year ago and was struck by a lot of the messages and innovation that he presented. One specific highlight that stuck in my brain was a use of Skype. Students in another country were learning how to speak English via Skype from some retired adults. I knew right then... I wanted that. I wanted to bring in the energy of mature adults. I wanted to allow for connection. As Couros suggests in his book, The Innovator's Mindset, build off the good ideas of others and make it work for you and your situation. With a specialist schedule, Skype conversations are very hard to create. So rather than connecting globally in real time... I decided to connects locally in face to face time. I have lot's more to share about George Couros and his amazing book.... but I'll do so in a future post.
This whole year my concentration has been focused on Connecting. Connecting in my school, community, families, and globally. I'm in love with this concept of making our world a little smaller for the students of Hassan and in turn, making my students studio time as authentic as I can. I feel if I can work on connections, this will allow my students to see the relevance of art as well as teaching the whole child.
These sweet volunteers came into my classroom with objects. These might have been a collection, an object with meaning, or one they just felt would be fun to draw. As the students drew, the volunteers would share stories, answer questions, or simply give encouragement. This was such a gift to my students because they had ears who could listen. I want to take the time to connect with my students as much as I can, but my main objective is to teach and manage. These volunteers were asked to speak with the kids, listen to and value my students. They did this beautifully.
Both my students and volunteers found great value in this opportunity. I found my heart filled with joy by interaction of the youth of my students and mature years of my volunteers. I saw (retired) master educators, watched their skills and grace. I saw people who were passionate about kids and excepting of them. I saw smiles and heard laughter in my room each day of this project.
There are two ways to hear more about this event created at Hassan. You can attend the online AOE conference this weekend. I'm presenting right away at 10 am. If you are not registered, your last chance is tomorrow, Jan. 28th. Check out the schedule here. You want to talk about some amazing art PD... this is it. You could also attend my presentation at the NAEA conference in Chicago. I'll be presenting on this as well as many other ways to make the Connect Effect happen in your classroom.