Creating Happiness in your Art Classroom – Teaching Strategies for Art Educators
Teachers, let’s talk about creating happiness among your students in your art classroom. For me, this is so important. Right now, at this strange and unusual moment in time, it is essential. It is a major part of creating a positive learning space, creating a strong classroom community, building trust with ALL your students, and creating a classroom that kids WANT to be in.
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Find your Inner Child.
First, I think that it is important to say this: be your REAL, fun and silly self. For me, I am extra weird and unusual to the point where even the kids stare at me like… WHHHHAAAT. But that is me and I am not saying you should be me. If you do want to be weird and unusual OR dress up like a rainbow because that is how you identify, then you should do it! But what I’m saying is… be YOU.
You can’t be consistent if you’re trying to be anything other than YOU. For me, I wear t-shirts and jeans or yoga pants to work literally everyday but my strange and usual comes out in the odd way I go about my day. I don’t know how to explain it other than I’m told I’m weird… Well, I just like to be me yah know? So be silly and let YOU and your inner child out… Whatever that means to you.
To relate to the students you teach, you need find that inner child and also pull your student’s interests into your classroom while also showing YOURS. For example, in my classroom you’ll see rainbows and art décor, but also there are elements of Harry Potter around my room, there are unicorns because the kids like that, and also I have rainbow cats or posters of cats puking rainbows (which of course are kid friendly) in my classroom. Why? Because these are things that are both true to me and true to my students.
I see myself in my classroom and it makes me happy so I can be bright and energetic for the kids. As well, these make my students happy so they can see themselves in my classroom and be happy as well. As they say, we have to aim for the Green Zone.
Make Sure you SHINE!
Next, let your students SHINE! When I say shine, I have to be honest, I immediately think about the cool little superpower that Stephen King refers to in “The Shining”. Although not the same, you can think about it in a similar way. Let your student’s “self” and “identity” shine THROUGH in your classroom. Find their flavor and their fun way of BEING and let them be THEM shine in your classroom. To bring TRUE happiness in your classroom, I think it is essential that we recognize who students are: what their personality is like, who they are culturally, who they are in terms of how they identify, who they are intellectually… I think we need to let that magic SHINE. When we think about inclusion, we are thinking about letting our individual differences SHINE through. To be apparent and real and celebrated! We want to encourage it through including as many culturally and socially rich and diverse individuals in the lessons we teach and the artists we include in our lessons! Remember, civilizations have collapsed in their attempts to make everyone the same. It does not “Spark Joy” as Marie Kondo would say.
Of course, this is true for you as well. It is important for YOU to SHINE in your own classroom too. You are not some robot parroting instructions in front of a room. That is NOT education. You CANNOT build connections or trust with students if you don’t give them a reason to trust you or see similar interests in you. To be honest, I don’t have many friends that are robots. I do have friends that are people… and also animals. And I connect with them because we have similar interests or I find them to be funny, or silly, or passionate about a similar topic… you know what I mean? So I think if YOU want to be happy in your class and if YOU want to SHINE then you gotta let that flavor as I like to call it… OUT. Let it burst forth from you like sneeze; except replace the boogers with glitter and awesomeness! But not real glitter because that’s bad for the environment. Anyway, but what I’m trying to say is if kids can connect to you they can feel a whole lot SAFER and HAPPIER in your classroom. For some kids, your classroom is their only safe place. It is THEIR HAPPY.
Being a happy, positive, energetic, silly force is essential in your classroom. Just think, would YOU want to be in YOUR classroom if you were negative, always down, miserable, and were just regurgitating information? No. I think not. Do you think that builds trust and connections? No, not really. So be the force and spark of positivity! Wake up and make a decision to BE HAPPY and to BE YOUR SILLY and to BE YOUR FLAVOR… To let YOUR SHINE…SHINE! This is the foundation of Classroom Management after all. You will never win with ALL your students if they don’t trust you. For your most challenging students, trust is everything. Until they trust you, they won’t or may even refuse to respond to any prompts or direction. So start building that trust by being transparent and showing your real self.
Here is your action item: Write down your strengths. What are you REALLY good at doing? Write down your interests and likes. What do YOU love? Finally, write down what you think your STUDENTS really love. Now I want to you brainstorm how you might tweak or adjust things in your classroom or about how you present yourself in your classroom so that you can SHINE, your STUDENTS can SHINE and so that you may Spark Joy!
Work with Student Interests
Another way I like to bring happiness into my classroom is through doing art projects around student interests. I’m always watching to see what is trending. It is easy to spot! See what your kids are wearing, bring in, talk about, those kinds of things. You might see these topics on YouTube or see them in stores. A lot of time the graphics on T-Shirts speak a lot about what is trending in the kid interest universe. I’m always on the look out for what KIDS like. This is the simplest way to engage kids and to get them interested in making art. People are more inclined to do something or make something if it speaks to them or if they can see themselves in it. You can also combine kid interests with Art History or Seasons or Holidays art projects! Maybe you create Sharks at Christmas! Or Space Tacos with Pastels and Paint! This increased interest and engagement is a definite way to create happiness in your classroom.
Action Item: Brainstorm ways that you can bring student interest and curriculum together in your next art project. After you teach the lesson, reflect on the experience. Were there any differences in this new art project compared to previous lessons taught? What were the student reactions?
Download Free Art Worksheets for Kids
Click here to download free art worksheets that you can print to allow kids to explore art at home!
Social Emotional Learning
I’m interested in keeping kids in the green zone. This of course is a Zones of Regulation reference. You can include some SEL in your classroom through including things like meditation or Art Therapy themed lessons! I like to start my classes off with some Guided Meditation while drawing OR through doing Mindful Art Starts where we do deep breathing, focus on the moment, then draw to zen or calming music for 5 to 10 minutes. This is especially good to start right away as you wait for all your students to settle in. That way, when you go to start your lesson or learning, the kids are settled, calm, and in the Green Zone… hopefully. This is great to do in the higher-level classes where class time is longer. For shorter, 30-minute classrooms, you can simplify it to JUST deep breathing at the start of class. Rest your eyes… Deep breath in… slowly release… inhale deeply… slowly release… one more DEEP cleansing breath in … and exhale slowly. This will help students transition at their pace from whatever they were doing before to making art.
You can also try incorporating some Art Therapy type art lessons in your class to bring Social Emotional Learning or SEL into your Art Classroom! Try searching up some Art Therapy Lessons or ideas on Google and Pinterest and see what you can come up with! Try a few lessons and see how it goes with your students and if it “sparks joy” or lets your students “shine”!
Well, that’s All Folks!
Well, these were some of my tips for Creating Happiness in your Classroom! I would LOVE to hear some of your ideas! Share your thoughts by giving me a shoutout on twitter! I am @msartastic!
Find free Art Lessons on the Ms Artastic YouTube Channel!
Finally, if you need some ideas or need to take a break in your classroom or from recording lessons for online instruction, I’ve created artworks on my YouTube Channel! Find the lovely drawings in my YouTube Channel, Ms Artastic!
How-To Draw Space Pizza
Let’s draw a cartoon slice of pizza that is truly out of this world with this art tutorial that makes learning art easy to do.
How to Draw a
Art Lessons by Ms Artastic
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Kathleen McGiveron (Ms Artastic)
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