I’ve met with the 3rd graders at PS 48 twice now and I feel that we are already off and running. As you mentioned, getting to know the students is one of the first important tasks you and I have as LTA teaching artists so I dedicated the majority of the first class to meeting and learning a little bit about each student. This takes time (and patience from the students) but I have found it’s necessary in order to remember names and to connect with students later throughout the twenty-week residency in one-on-one conversations.
My method is simple really, I ask each student to introduce themselves by sharing their name and one other “thing I should know” then I look at them in the eyes, say “hello,” and repeat their name a few times. From there on out I will always call each student by name and although in the beginning I may make a few mistakes, this routine helps me to develop a personal relationship with the students in my classes.
Developing a personal relationship with the teachers is also essential to a successful residency program. Between the first and second meeting with the students, the 3rd grade teachers spent a day at the Guggenheim with me to develop a curriculum plan, look at art together, and muck with materials in the museum studio. On that day, the teachers and I began to create material tests for the sculpture project we are planning. In short, we know we would like the students to create an outdoor sculpture for the school garden but we want to include the students in the choice of materials and the final sculptural form.
Every year the teachers choose a curricular area to connect to, this year my teachers would like to engage the students in math thinking throughout the residency (but as we were planning we also saw that our work will connect to ELA, Social Studies, and Science as well). The working curriculum is currently planned in three different stages; essentially the stages involve 1) Exploration – material experiences and tests; 2) Visualization/Planning – sculpting small scale models; 3) Actualization – creating the final sculpture project. This past week the students began to explore variations on composition. Check out the photos from the class: