Sunday, March 4, 2012

art show!

Yesterday was one of those days where I reflect on my job and think, “I do some pretty cool stuff with some talented little people.” Yesterday was the first annual art opening for our preschool classes.  Last summer, I read a great blog post from a teacher/blogger whom I follow quite closely.  Tom teaches at a cooperative preschool in the Seattle area, and he is an amazing writer who sums up his work with children so eloquently that I often just shake my head when I read his blog, wishing that I had written those words first.  So, when he wrote about having an art opening for his preschoolers, I knew it was something I wanted to try and something that my students would love.  We are lucky enough to have a family in our school that owns a small coffee shop in the heart of the Waldo neighborhood in Kansas City. One More Cup was a favorite hang out for me even before I knew that the Neffs owned it, and it’s the quintessential local business in my opinion. It is cozy and comfy and a favorite spot to curl up with a latte and a good book (Ha! You would think by reading this that I had actually done that. I’ve not, but I always look with envy on the people in there curled up reading…one day I’ll do it, too).  Yesterday, it was the perfect location to host dozens of family members and many, many little artists – at our first CECC art opening! 
 The idea began, like I said, with an idea from Teacher Tom, but it soon developed into something much more.  We are constantly doing artwork in our classrooms. Daily.  Using different mediums, working on different canvases, working alone or in groups. Artwork in the preschool classroom is something that we did every single day without thinking much of it aside from the esthetic quality…until this year.  This year, my friend and fellow preschool teacher Adriane and I began to dig deeper to find connections between the artwork that they did, and the development of the children. What we began to realize is that we weren’t giving the artwork enough credit for all the things it was teaching the children. Social skills, language and cognitive skills, math and science, measuring and exploring cause and effect, fine and gross motor development. This list could go on and could be much more detailed, but you get the point. The hard part wasn’t getting the children to participate in the artwork, it was making those connections between what we were doing and the importance of what the children were learning. Isn’t that always the hardest part for a teacher? 
 Yesterday was the culmination of a journey we began back in August, and it was so much fun to see how excited the children were to show off their work.  Giving the public the chance to meet the little artists was a success! I’m lucky to have Adriane to work with, as she feels as strongly about teaching as I do.  Teaching parents and the community about what we do in the preschool classroom. Teaching about all of the connections the children are making in their artwork. Teaching that more goes on in a preschool classroom than crayons and markers.  I don’t think Adriane and I ever thought about this journey as something new for the kids: rather that it might be new for the adults in those kids’ lives.  We thought about it in terms of how we might show the outside world how important this experience would be for a four year old. I think it was a success.

The CECC art will be available for viewing and purchase during the month of March at One More Cup (7408 Wornall Road, KCMO) come see it!

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