Standing, Stretching, and Breaks

This year I’m teaching in what I believe is a very small classroom for secondary art.  We’re in the type of classroom you teach math and English in, sitting at the same small desks.  While I am just thankful that the school has art classes to begin with, this just isn’t the ideal set up.  Students not only have less space to spread out and work larger, but they are less inclined to stand up, move around, and seek the advice of students who are across the room.  I personally believe that all these things are just as important to learning and becoming more confident in creating.

When I was in graduate school we used to make fun of our professors, who would tell us that students can really only pay 100% attention for about 20 minutes, but then spend the next 2 hours droning on and on about theory.  In the past few weeks I’ve begun to remember how hard it was to sit for that long, and have noticed that about halfway through our 90 minute classes, that the kids start to get restless.

So I started to make them get up.  It’s a part of their participation.  They have to all stand up, give it a good couple of stretches, and then walk around the classroom and take a look at everyone else’s artwork.  I give them 3-5 minutes to accomplish this.  I figure I’m killing several birds with one stone by doing this.  Not only are the kids getting a little brain-break and a good stretch, but they are experiencing their peer’s work, getting new ideas, and are able to reflect as a group afterwards (with me leading the discussion) on what they liked about the work they saw and how they can incorporate those ideas into their own art.

I’ve noticed that the second half of the class goes by a lot quicker when we do this, and the kids work more consistently. It’s been a great addition to the day, and I’m pleased that what was a joke during graduate school turned into a really useful tool in practice!


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