“Miss Annie is here!” Everyone welcomed me warmly on my recent rainy-day visit to teach my third lesson to 8th-graders at Lingelbach Elementary. Soon we were discussing the patterns and colors of a Navajo weaving they had seen the week before when they visited the Barnes. “I could tell how it would feel,” one student said.
“They were overjoyed throughout the whole Crossing Boundaries program and they really rose to the occasion,” explained their teacher Mrs. Yanochko, “It’s great to give my class something special like this; my students need special trips and programs!”
The students helped me set up the print project supplies, and were eager to begin making our own weavings and prints. They paid close attention to my demonstration, watching with a quiet intensity. As the class started to buzz with creativity and work, I noticed that this project was fostering teamwork and collaboration. Students had a choice to make imagery together or focus on their own designs. As I walked around offering help where needed, I noticed that most students had partnered up and were making line, shape, and color choices together. “We are combining our ideas because we have the same lines, Miss Annie;” one student ran up to show me the connections he and another student had made with their designs.
At the end of the class, I asked if anyone wanted to share thoughts on the project. One student raised his hand immediately and said, “This is the nicest our class has worked together in weeks!” Another student agreed, “We worked well together today!” This shows me as an educator that art encourages collaboration, an important life skill and one that can be difficult to learn. Through this creative process, students worked out their ideas and thoughts and created beautiful prints. Through the lens of art we can learn a lot about formal principles like light, line, space, and shape, but we can also learn about one another and how to work together.
As I left, I overheard a student say, “I will cherish this moment for a long time.” Classes like this exemplify the importance of art in the classroom, and show how necessary it is for student growth.