Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Favorite Staff Development

For a while, our school system let teachers pick from a tantalizing menu of staff development opportunities before Labor Day arrived.   Some of the classes were taught by people "on the outside," but my favorite training session was taught by my dear friend and the former art teacher for my school, Mrs. Rachel Oney.

What did we do?   We painted furniture.   Why did I love it?   The process of painting furniture is a stress reliever for me.   It may not be the same for you.   I also have eyes that get hungry for color, so it's good to add something fresh to the classroom now and then.   Learning a new process puts us back in the position of student, and it's always good for teachers to take on that role.   We need to be in touch with what it feels like to take a risk and expand our knowledge.  

The class attracted most of the county's art teachers and me.   We were encouraged to bring a piece of furniture to paint for our classroom.   I chose one of those chunky, old wooden desks-- the kind that's mainly tabletop.   I brought a copy of the book John Lennon's Real Love: The Drawings for Sean.   I wanted to mimic Lennon's style and incorporate his self-portrait doodle and a favorite line from his song "Mind Games."   Not being an artist, it was a challenge to reproduce watercolors with acrylics, but I ended up with something I liked.

If you have been following my Blog, you may remember that I mentioned that something from my classroom was retrieved for me by my thoughtful principal.   It was this desk, the one I keep at the front of the room.  

When I heard the news that my school was hit by the tornado, I was at peace immediately with losing everything in my classroom.   I just felt so fortunate that no one was in the building.   Really, what more could you hope for?   Even so, it was this desk that I thought of first.   I was going to miss it.   As an artist friend of mine says, "There's more where that came from."   My mind was already swirling with new ideas.

Figure out a thrift store circuit and hop in a pickup truck.   It's a great way to score affordable wooden bookcases for your home and classroom.  

Also, look for sweet little wooden chairs, tables and rockers  that you can revive for your youngest friends.   Choose a dry day for your project.   Remember, it's always worth prepping and priming before you paint.   Have fun!

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