Gaining Support From Classroom Teachers
Do classroom teachers support your efforts in the art room?
I have a story to share about something that has never, ever happened when it comes to classroom teachers support, and I feel it’s a success story.
Let me preface this by saying how lucky I am that the classroom teachers at my school(s) are very supportive for the art program, following through with behaviors, and know we aren’t just finger painting in general. I do however, believe they have a lot on their plates, and enough to worry about. I try to really keep my issues to myself and take care of what happens in art, in art. More about my management plan can be found right here.
One particular group of 1st grade students has been giving me the runaround all year long. I tried to brush it off, I didn’t want the classroom teacher to know I was having so much trouble. I wanted to seem like I had it all together. Tough girl. But on the inside I was screaming. The kids were seeing absolutely no connection between what happens in the art room and at this point in the year, the class was at least a class or two behind the other 1st grades, and it was all because of behaviors. I couldn’t take it any more, especially when all of my other groups K-5 do such a nice job. I had a feeling it was not “just me” because I have little management issues during the rest of my day. For the record, I am not very simpathetic to teachers who have management issues all day long and then want someone else to bail them out every time, but I honestly feel this situation was unique, so I composed the following email:
I just wanted to let you know that if you seen a unusual number of Art Room Opps Notes sent home, it’s because I am noticing the art room behaviors getting worse and worse and I am really cracking down. I know it’s a hard group of kids but I totally blame myself because the kids see absolutely no connection between their behaviors in art and the classroom/home. I realize we have our high fliers for behavior, but also have a suspicion that students who are normally fine in the classroom are starting to sense that it’s ok to mess around in art class and are really pushing the boundaries, and pushing them far more than I am comfortable with. I am hoping that a communication home directly from art may impact some who are on the fence.
This all came to me, when I realized your students are behind on their art projects, and it’s all because of behavior. Last week we only got a VERY small amount of art done and at this rate we wont’ finish in time for report cards. When behavior impacts student learning this much, I need to continue to change what I am doing in order to help solve the problem. It would be too easy for me to say “it’s only 45 minutes a week” and brush it off, but as you know that is not the kind of teacher I am.
Of course, I will continue with all the positive behavior systems I already have in place, including table competition for character slips as well as positive reinforcement and earning the letters ART for whole group behavior.
I know this is not “your issue” and it’s “my issue” but I wanted to just let you know, there is way to much of the year left, and Power Standards to be assessed for me to just give up on this mission.
Thanks for your support!
And support I got. I assumed the teacher knew this was all going on, but I think I provided a lot of new information in my email, and she was willing and equipped to help make art go a little more smoothly. I do know this is a difficult class in general, even for this seasoned teacher, but I KNOW they can act better especially for me.
The teacher talked with the students before art class. They practiced what coming into art looked like. She even brought a chart with her that had a list of student names. I was to fill out this chart in specials from now on. Anyone who was highlighted would get a positive punch in the classroom. Anyone who’s name wasn’t highlighted would be staying in for the next recess.
I don’t think the kids really believed us. Sure enough, by the end of art, 7 names were NOT highlighted. These kids came in for recess and the teacher brought them down to the art room, per my request. (I have never kept a kid in for recess before, can you believe it?) They (with the teacher and myself) practiced coming into art, sitting quietly on the carpet, working and cleaning up. WOW. It was pretty powerful to see the students actually have a concepquence for art room behaviors. It was powerful to see the students who I know can do better practice doing the right thing. I hope this situation made an impact. The next art class I only had one student need to stay in for recess, so I do think an impact was made.
Moral of the Story: I coudln’t have made these strides without the support from the classroom teacher. I know there are just some things kids don’t get about the connection between specials, the classroom and home. It takes teamwork to make that happen.
Do you receive support from classroom teachers?
Do you have any relationship boosters or suggestions to keep the communication open?