There’s so much to learn from being creative. That’s the backbone idea behind Studio Days. When you provide an opportunity for students to experience a Studio Day, they are given a chance to create something original from start to finish in a safe, creative environment; given time to reflect on their experience and begin to discover things about themselves as learners.
But with a Studio Day, even the teacher learns something – a lot actually! That was my biggest take away after conducting (finally) my first Studio Day of this school year. Usually by now I have done at least two and am planning my third, but this year is, well, different.
Our district has had many changes this year in administration, curriculum and assessment. We’ve fully adopted the Common Core and have changed both our math and literacy programs. I seem to have more pop up meetings, my students are very needy this year and well, I just haven’t felt like I have had the time to spend hours on a Studio Day. (And yes, I’m the one that wrote the book on it!) See, I get it! I know we are so busy, but I also knew I had to bite the bullet and just do it. I’ve said it so many times before with doing arts integration: you just need to do it!
So, I did. And all those outcomes I promise to other teachers, came true for me.
- Most students were focused and persevered through the project for an extended period of time. Those that had difficulty, had the chance to practice those skills in a new environment.
- Students were happily engaged, even when they were working out of their comfort zone.
- I was able to see some students in a new light. Some showed me their creative sides while others showed me their inhibitions. AND we were able to discuss those things as the students worked.
- Students started to realize things about themselves. One girl commented on how she is too much of a perfectionist (to a fault). Another boy realized he enjoyed working with his hands. One student was fascinated by how in depth he could go by creating just one simple image.
It has been a year of frustration. Nearly everyday I have felt like there is never enough time to accomplish much or that I am not doing justice to my students or myself. (cue the violins)
But after our Studio Day, I came home relaxed and rejuvenated feeling like our class accomplished something great. I smiled and was excited that my students got to see a new side of me too.
Our room was a near disaster with paint and papers everywhere, kids constantly going to wash their hands, moving about to gather materials, mix paint, cut paper and glue yarn. Considering we had to house our Studio Day in our modified open concept classroom for the first time, it was quite a success. It was truly an example of controlled chaos.
But the learning that was happening was immense. It’s the kind of learning that is not necessarily something you can record or assess, but it’s there. The students are learning work ethic, cooperation, individuality and perseverance. They are learning how to share and be respectful as well as how to plan ahead and work with mishaps. They are learning about color and textures, ratios and design; responsibility, citizenship and self-expression too.
So many things happen when you put a group together to create. I’m glad I finally started the ball rolling to have Studio Days this year and the class and I are looking forward to the next one already!