10. Have students choose their own piece.
This requires a lot of in class preparation. I remember my first couple years of teaching where I wouldn’t even want my kids to “waste” class time making portfolios. What a mistake! I adore seeing kids gather their work, be reflective about their experience this year in class, and then ultimately, choose a piece for the art show that is representative of their best effort work. We talk about how it should not be the prettiest, or the most presentable, but rather a true representation of their best effort work. Now, this freedom does not mean to say, that I do not often have to
coerce support my student’s thinking to remind them of how many class sessions they have put into a piece. In the end however, it is their choice. This makes students so much more engaged and excited to come to the art show and show off their work!
9. Prepare the community
Here is your check list: communicate with your principal and colleagues to make sure the spaces are available, remind families of the date and time and have students make invitations to get excited about the show! I also ask for family volunteers to help hang and take the show down.
8. Prepare the ART
I color code my frames for ease of viewing and families know the system by now, thankfully. I also have two labels for each child pre-printed that acts as a checklist. Once the art is framed, I add a label to the 2-dimensional pieces and another to the 3-dimensional pieces. If there is a label leftover, I know I am missing the child’s artwork. I also label the back with the class code so that I stay organized.
7. Prepare the kids
Every week for a full month we talk about the art show. Week one is portfolio day where kids get organized, finish unfinished pieces and then choose. Week two, the kids make invitations while I frame the work. The third week, I label while they make posters for the school. The last week we focus on the rules. How do you act at an art show? I get specific and they illustrate these rules for families. I know my students can behave, but can their grown-ups?!? It is a sneaky way to empower them, but it works!
6. Prepare the Teachers
I create a list of FAQs about the art show. How many pieces do children have? How do I know where to find a friend’s art (our color coding helps). I also type up a list of what piece of art every child has chosen because kids totally forget and it is okay! Let’s help them be successful by both giving this list to teachers and posting it. I also make a scavenger hunt for teachers to give their students so they stay on task while at the art show preview time. I also invite teachers to bring their own artwork, which is a treat for everyone to see!
5. I delegate
My first years of teaching the art show was kind of about me. I felt the need to prove to the world that I could do it. I teach my kids, I made this art show! Now that I am a seasoned teacher, I know that it is not my art show, it is the kid’s art show! I delegate the following: choosing the art (kids), hanging the art (family volunteers), previewing the show (classroom homeroom teachers), and write ups (the kids do that too).
4. Invite the world!
I like to invite everyone I can! I invite all the administrators I can think of, all the other art teachers in the department, every family member I know (mine included). It is important to spread the word, the art and the love!
3. Step back and relax
Smack on some lip gloss and watch it all go down. I love watching families be so excited about their children’s work. The art show is an amazing way to engage all families in your community, empower children and make everyone feel successful.
2. Be the host/hostess with the most/ess
I happen to be very good with remembering things. I love to chit chat with every single family, congratulate them on their child’s art and celebrate. I always tell the kids that the art show is better than my birthday- it is the best day of the year!
1. Be proud!
This is a rule for the kids, but it also goes for you. There is nothing more magical than a big room full of your year’s hard work. What a beautiful reflection for you to have this one space that captures your enthusiasm, creativity and program! Celebrate and be proud of yourself, you did it!