Preparing the community for an Art Show that might look a little different… (and calming the nerves!)

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It’s all over folks! 160+ individual artworks by our wonderful Grade 3 and Grade 5 artists came to a grand finale with the WOW Exhibition opening night. The entire community was invited to view the WOW Exhibition and peruse the artwork at their pleasure…

Our artists were so excited to show their work to the community. My dear colleague Naomi Feil and I were too, but we were equally nervous at the same time!

Everyday we guided, supported and were cheerleaders for these artists Naomi and I would share the excitement of watching these individual projects come to fruition. Also, we would lament and problem solve the struggles together (I wrote more about these processes back in an old post). As the exhibition date approached we were blown away by what was being finished. Our art teacher eyes and our knowledge of each students individual achievements made our hearts fill with pride… but what about everyone else? We know how far each student has come in their journey… but what about everyone else? In the same way art is naturally subjective so is art teaching. No matter where you are on the choice spectrum as an art teacher, your community comes with a prior knowledge based on what they have seen or have done before.

What would our community think of the changes to our programme this year?

How could we prepare them for the changes and ensure they were asking each artist kind, appropriate questions without comparisons?

Naomi and I have always sat somewhere between the moderate to abundant choice area on the choice spectrum depending on the units of inquiry or homeroom integrations. We have experimented and tried a few things here and there but this felt like first time we formally opened up to full-abundant-choice options.

So we decided to compose an email to parents that was sent out the day before opening night (see below). It explained what to expect, what to ask etc. (A big thank you to Miss L Gould, an Art teacher in Canada using the Teaching for Artistic Behaviors approach we got ideas from her art newsletter)

Also, our wonderful marketing team helped us prepare a flyer that got printed onto nice card to hand out to the parents on the night of the exhibition (fancy!). You can view it here:

WOW Art Flyer

I think it helped prepare the community and help them to understand the changes we are undertaking to art teaching and learning. Also, it certainly helped calm our nerves knowing that this information had gone out ahead of time!

As you can probably tell by the photos at the top of this post the turn out was high. What I loved observing was the time everyone took to really read the artist statements to understand more about each artwork. I overheard some great comments and conversations. The evening was about the artwork, the process, the meaning, the message, the intention, the creativity, the purpose, the journey – it was about the artists. As it should be!

The whole experience reminds me how lucky I am to be a part of this school community that gives ownership and agency to their teachers, that allows us to take risks, risks that allowed every Grade 3 and Grade 5 student show their inner artist, there was a lot of pride in the room that night!