Reflections of a Classroom Teacher

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Mr. Mitchell is a 5th grade teacher at Bayside School in the Sausalito Marin City School District. He has been teaching in the district since 1989; working as a classroom teacher for all of the elementary grades, and he also was a physical education teacher.

This was his first year experiencing the art grant, and having Ms. Brooke collaborate with  his students. Recently Mr. Mitchell’s art cycle ended (Bayside school has 6 week enrichment cycles), and it was a great opportunity to ask him to reflect on the experience.

How did the art program impact your students?
“Before my students had art, they saw art making as very simplistic and only involving drawing and painting. When I would ask them to draw, they would react negatively, claiming they could not draw. Having Ms. Brooke enter into our classroom was a great gift. Within a week of her presence, I saw the students blossoming through the arts. I saw it when they were making, presenting, reflecting, and exploring. Ms. Brooke shifted the mindsets of my students, and it was a remarkable moment when all of the sudden they were referring to themselves and one another as “artists.” Through encouragement came creativity. Now my students seem more confident. They look at their work around the room, and they are proud of what they have made, and they recognize that different ways of making art is ok. Not everything has to look the same, and there is not one way to make something.”

What did you learn about your students through the art program?
“One of my students does not talk. It has been many years since she has spoken in school, and I think it is due to some of her peers making fun of her. She communicates well through writing, but the visual arts have brought her communication to a new place. I learned that she has a lot to say, and wants to express her thoughts. When making art, there was no resistance. No barrier. She really felt at ease with herself and able to get into what ever they were doing: whether it was printing or brainstorming or folding paper. I now realize that I should bring in more art making to encourage her to bring out that expressive nature that I know is there. She has found her voice through art.”

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