When we switched to a schedule where I would be seeing every student in our school every 6 days, my first concern was figuring out a way to connect with each of our 860 students. It was dizzying prospect; I was unsure of my ability to remember each of my student’s names, much less get to know them.
My first concern was figuring out a way to connect with each of our 860 students.
During a conversation with our Music teacher, I remembered the solution my cooperating teacher in college had come up with – The Artist of the Day. It ended up being such a simple solution to what felt like an overwhelming problem that both the Music and GT teachers ended up creating a similar system in their classrooms!
My mentor teacher had an old school desk that she was brightly painted where the Artist of the Day got to sit. My room is cramped as it is, so I started brainstorming other ways to make the Artist of the Day feel special. My first thought was to let them wear a special apron.
I decided to keep it simple and painted one of my old adult aprons. I would rather it be too big on a second grader than not fit a fourth grader. (When a second grader wears it, I fold the bottom part up before I tie it around them, which seems to do the trick.) I let the kids decide if the want to wear the apron or not. Some kids are most excited about getting to wear it and some are grateful that they don’t have to.
They also get to have a special placemat to do their artwork on. This was by far the easiest part of my setup. Poster board, Sharpies and a laminator – couldn’t be easier! Some of my kiddos were confused about what a placemat is, so I started showing them how to use it when I introduced the Artist of the Day to each of my classes.
The placemat helps me to remember to check in with that particular kid through out the class period.
The placemat helps me to remember to check in with that particular kid throughout the class period. I ask them questions about their artwork, about what they did last weekend, and best of all – I learn their name and remember it!
The part that the kids like the best is the sticker they get to wear all day. I used sheets of 30 mailing labels and created a template to print them on. My one complaint is that the labels aren’t super sticky. Even by the end of class they start to fall off of the kids’ shirts, so I’m not sure if they make it all the way home at the end of the day.
I explained to the kids that at the beginning of the week I randomly pick a number from the cup and that is the seat number that gets to be Artist of the Day in all my classes. Each class period, I mark that student’s seating chart with a star. That way I’ll remember who has already had a turn, even if they move seats.
Our fabulous music teacher came up with a great way to honor her Musician of the Day! She created a bulletin board and each student gets to sign the display when it is their turn. We both use our special student of the day to help us out with any jobs that need to be done. In my class, they are always in charge of drawing numbers out of the cup to see who gets to answer the question during our Circle Up time at the end of class.
The kids are so excited when it’s their turn! I love hearing them tell their homeroom teacher all about it when she comes to pick them up from art. My favorite part is that it truly is random – there have been some classes where the Artist of the Day ended up being a kid who had been acting out during those first five minutes of class. What a huge shift in their attitude and behavior when they find out it’s their turn! In the crazy world of teaching art, it has turned out to be a simple ritual that reaps huge rewards.