Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shhh! Don’t Tell Anyone, But We’re Gonna Do Some Art

My real life pal at The Jason Show recently posted about how the overemphasis of standardized testing is kind of taking the joy out of teaching.

For the last few years, I have jumped right on the testing bandwagon as the new “culture” of our school – to do whatever it takes to get our test scores to go up. Granted, some of those changes have been positive. On the other hand, we are very limited in the amount of “fun” we get to have in school. I am a teacher of 2nd graders. My kids’ range in age from six to eight years old. This age group tends to go for fun. Sure, we try to make our core curriculum, or standards if you will, fun with games and projects that help with learning. However, with the amount of curriculum we have to cover I feel that I am barely able to get through everything I need to in a day, let alone anything fun like art, music, PE, or even just talking to my kids about something other than standards.

This year has been a particularly tough year. With budgets decreasing, we have more kids in our room but expectations are increasing. I’m too old for this exhausted.

While planning for the upcoming week last Wednesday, I realized that I had finished a science unit with a couple of weeks to spare. I actually had some time to add in a few things that are usually pushed to the back burner throughout the year, like art. I planned a spring art project that would be linked to narrative writing and we started it on Monday afternoon.

The kids were psyched as I explained the project, which was apparent by all the chitter chatter during the instructions. But they kept it together and got started. I had kids working at their desks on one part of the project and others working around the room on the floor on another part when in walks our assistant principal. She watched for a few moments as I helped a couple of kids and then she walked around asking the kids about what they were doing. When she walked past me I felt the need to clarify what we were doing.

“It’s goes along with a writing assignment!” I blurted out, not wanting her to think we were just doing art for fun. “We’re writing stories about it afterwards!” I continued, kind of panicking. I’m surprised I didn’t say, “Please don’t tell anyone!”

I had no reason to defend myself. I’m a good teacher and get the “job” done, but I found myself feeling the need to do so. That is what I dislike most about teaching to the standardized test; days like today aren’t the norm, but the exception.


  1. Punkin,
    You have my 100% support to throw some art in your classroom:) I hate that you feel so much pressure to put standardized testing and prepwork ahead of everything else - I can see you have a passion to do so much more. But don't worry - your secret is safe with me:)

  2. Yay! I hope you all had some fun!

  3. Good for you!
    And even better for the kids!!

  4. I just posted today about art in the schools, and why I love it :))

    heartshapedhedges.blogspot Tell me what you think!

    My chocolate blog has a cool give away...I bet you'll like it :)

  5. Please do! I wish I'd had more art back in school!

  6. having once been a teacher aide to second and eighth graders, i am a firm believer that art can and should be incorporated into all aspects of the class room--sometimes it takes some thinking outside to box to do it, and the possible extended use of the term "visual aide"-- ;)

    kudos on your covert art time ;)

  7. I feel really out of the loop. I thought schools were required to teach art, PE, and music?

    DODEA schools may not be perfect but the elementary schools still teach art, PE, music, and even host nation.

    It will be an adjustment when we move them to public school....

  8. Shame that education is geared so much to taking tests. A lot of actual learning is falling by the wayside.
    I'm glad you are fitting some other things in.

    I don't know what our 'leaders' expect to produce with their kind of 'education'.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  9. Art is so very important!!

    I am glad that you were able to fit it in!!

  10. Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me.

  11. Assistant Principals need to get real jobs. Just my smart arse opinion.

    BTW, loved your mouse joke!