Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bringing Community Experts into your Classroom.

I'm so excited to share in Seattle about 'Bringing Visiting Artist into the Classroom' in a carousel-style presentation, more on that later in this post.  I'm writing this post to support one of my points I will be making in my presentation... Visiting Artist do not have to be 'Artist'. 

I have had a dream of doing this project for years.  I have wanted to have the students create a case for the recorders (an instrument) that students play in Music class starting in 3rd grade in my district. I have resisted because of my fear of teaching fibers. How do you manage teaching fibers? Are these artist going to be able to do this? How will I keep the calm and get them past the frustrating parts of learning? Despite all these 'roadblocks' (and about a million more), this was going to be the year to take on the recorded cases. 

About a month before I was going to start this project, I decided to reach out to community experts. Experts might be a stretch... I actually emphasized that there was no experience needed... but I was going to call them experts, and really, they lived up to their name. 

I reached out to two groups.  First I sent an email home with my request and plan. From that inquiry, I got a handful of Moms and I a few more Grandma's that were willing to donate an hour or two. Then I requested our local retired adult volunteer group called RSVP's to see if anyone in that community would be willing to help out.  Again, a handful of ladies signed up.  I was hoping and even specifically asked for men to join the ranks of volunteers... maybe next time. 

I had the recorder cases scheduled for 4 to 5 weeks, so I asked my helpers to come in for the first two times for each section. Day one lesson was threading a needle and stitching a line. Day two, students had reviewed and started sewing one felt shape onto their case. 

I started this project with one group before the volunteers... There was tears, frustration, anger even. These kids could hardly handle the task of threading a needle (and that might be a conversation for another post... but not today). The next class I had the community experts. These lovely ladies kept the calm and cheered the kids on.  They walked them through the steps and helped the kids feel confident. My request of having the helpers in the classroom for two classes was by design.  Once the kids felt comfortable (or at least majority of them did) I was able to take away the assistance and allow the students to blossom as sewing Artist. 

I will do this lesson again without a doubt! The kids are SOOOOO proud of their recorder cases. I will share more about the specifics of the recorded cases in a future post. I really wanted to focus on bringing community experts into your classroom to help you keep the calm with your students and give the skills you feel is important to your classes.

If you want to learn more about this, or other ways to bring Visiting Artist into your classroom, I would suggest visiting our session. Actually, I would suggest any Carousel style presentation... they are always my favorite! Come early, they fill up fast! 

Center/Meeting Room 619 & 620/Level 6
Elementary Carousel of Learning: Working with Visiting Artists in the Classroom! 

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