YAM Recipe of the Month
FAEA presents a diverse collection of successful member "recipes" of interesting and engaging ideas to celebrate Youth Art Month at your school!
YAM Recipe of the Month by Francesca Levy
In the summer of 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I moved across the country and accepted a job as an itinerant teacher at new elementary schools in Miami. As an art teacher who interacts with many students and teachers every day, I’ve always known that building community is an important part of the job. Since I can’t connect with many families, students and colleagues face to face this year, I’ve had to get creative with how I build community while new to a school in the age of COVID. In this article I’ve listed some of the ways in which I was able to successfully build an informed and engaged community despite the challenges of the 2020-2021 school year.
Each month, I send out a newsletter to the family members of all the students I teach. I use the website Publicate, which makes sending and creating the newsletters a super simple process. In my newsletter, I include what students are currently working on, what is coming up next in our curriculum and spotlight some amazing student artwork. I include in pictures of artists working from class, share information about any local art or community events happening that I think my students may find interesting, share online learning resources such as virtual museum visits or graphic design programs for kids, and ask for donations or any other support I may need from families. While I created newsletters prior to the pandemic, the response from parents since COVID-19 has been overwhelming. Parents are not allowed on campus this year and the newsletter connects them to their students' school experience. Since I haven’t met any parents in person this year, the newsletter also helps them get to know me as an educator and relationship virtually. Having a relationship with your students' families is crucial to student success and the success of your art program. A newsletter is a simple and easy way to stay connected with your student families and build community during COVID.
Virtual Art Shows
Showcasing student artwork is one of the best opportunities for building community at a new school. Art shows provide teachers the opportunity to get to know families, while building up artistic confidence and pride in their students. Since we can’t have in-person art shows this year, I started doing smaller and more frequent virtual art shows to showcase student artwork throughout the year. These virtual art shows instills pride in participating students to see their artwork on display, and were a great way to connect with families and colleagues. I actually felt I have had higher engagement with virtual art shows than in-person art shows because all families need to do is click on a link, as opposed to attending an in-person event. I think virtual art shows are here to stay even when in-person art shows can resume!
Art Class Mantras
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of community building this year has been within the classroom with my students. One week a student is in class physically, and the next they are virtual, classes are constantly gaining and losing new students, it can be extremely difficult to build community amidst so much instability. My solution was built around creating stability with a routine using a bonding activity at the start of each class. We adapted our art class mantra from Sarah Krajewski's approach: "I am positive. I am creative. I am mindful. I am amazing. I am an artist." We say this together at the beginning of every art class and then add our own “I am” statement for the week. My students look forward to the mantra each class and will promptly remind me if I somehow forget to do it at the start of class. Having a shared experience, like a mantra, helps create a classroom community from the start and creates stability within your classroom community during an unpredictable year.
Creating community is a unique experience for everyone. I hope these tips help if you ever find yourself at a new school amid a challenging teaching situation, like a global pandemic! It’s important to find what works for you, your students, and your families and then stay consistent. Community flourishes with a little bit of creativity and consistency.
YAM Recipe of the Month by Ashley Monks
Now more than ever we are thinking about the next fundraising event that will keep our programs afloat. With the new way of school environments across America, most likely our art shows and fundraising events have been postponed or canceled. I hope that I can give you some insight into some extra funding ideas for your classroom.
I heard about this company in 2015 when I started at my Title 1 school. I needed extra funds to build my program. In 2000, Donors Choose was actually created by a history teacher and his friends thinking that if they shared their projects with the community, they would be able to purchase more for their students to experience besides just out of their own pockets. My first project was funded within a few months. Each project takes time and advertising on any social media sites in order to find donors. Sharing your projects on Twitter and Facebook brings the most support for your projects because they are the most used sites. At times, when no one is donating, I will often times donate towards my project. This brings your project to the top of the list. Donors Choose has corporate sponsors that often times match offers. This is when I will heavily advertise on my social media platforms. I have also asked my principal to fund match offers too! Don’t get discouraged, I have created over 20 projects and half of them have been funded. So, don’t get discouraged when your projects run out of time. Just make a new one!
Artsonia is a wonderful online portfolio system that teachers can use for their students to upload their artwork. Family and friends have the option to create gifts with student artwork on the keepsakes. 20% of purchases go back to the classroom. This is one way you can have a virtual art show and fundraiser at the same time. Try it out!
Remember, you are a walking example of an amazing educator from your district. I try to radiate positivity and accept help whenever it is offered. You are your own platform for your classroom. Look into your local Arts Councils and Education Foundations for help with funds for your classroom. Particular local sponsors continuously donate towards outstanding projects, so make sure to promote your project using social media and tagging those sponsors to your classroom anytime you get the chance with a hashtag like @TamiCarolInsurance, who is a huge local sponsor in Martin County.
Grants are available through many different agencies and organizations, you just need to seek out the ones that are attainable. Grants usually are available until funds run out. You might be asking yourself where you should look. Well, everywhere honestly. Places to look are local museums and galleries that are supplemented through philanthropies and larger grants through the state. Follow other educators who are often applying for grants for their schools on social media. Thankamericasteacher.com through Farmers Insurance were sponsoring a grant partnership. I heard about the opportunity, applied, was voted on, and won! You just never know unless you try. The grant is no longer running, but was an experiential opportunity, which opened up other doors. So apply, apply, and apply again!
Funding is out there for your classroom. I have learned to apply for funding before making any large purchases. Target and small sales still grab my attention, but larger project items I wait for a grant or a project to come through. You never know what will happen if you don’t go for it!
Good luck ~ Ashley
YAM Recipe of the Month by Christy Garton
The Banner Project is a collaboration between the City of Orlando and Orange County Public Schools. School art programs were provided one recycled, vinyl banner leftover from previous downtown events and asked to create a work of art inspired by a master artist. Each banner was hand-painted by art students and then sealed with a protectant to help preserve the work while exposed to the elements. This guidebook provides pictures of both sides of each banner as well as a bit of information about the artists who influenced the work of the students. All banners can be viewed during the month of March in celebration of Arts in Our Schools Month.