I hate the idea of trying to make art fit into a mold of testing students. I hate the scary number of steps that it has added to my already busy workload. The pre-assessing and then post-assessing as if I wasn't busy enough just trying to handle projects and assignments for 900 kids and put up shows and so on.....
What I hate is the hoops. The hoops we have to jump through, for people we have never met, to prove that we are great. Sometimes I feel like there is a man behind the curtain that is surprised when we show them the results and that we made it out alive. (If you had a mental picture of Dorothy and the gang showing back up with the witch's broom, then you and I are on the same wavelength.)
Anyway, what I learned from this experience is how to collect information and data and ways to use it. It has genuinely changed some parts of my teaching. I have assessed what students know prior to teaching a new topic and then assessed again to determine if anything stuck. I have incorporated a lot more writing into the class and while that can be somewhat painful, it is beneficial. The best part, however, is showing them what they learned. I took the preliminary drawings my fourth graders had done of lighthouses and held them up while they were in the process of working on their drawing of lighthouses. The second drawing was one they learned about one point perspective, learned to draw the lighthouse as a cylinder and not a flat rectangle and the results were amazing. I had them reflect a moment on their progress. I showed them how far they had come in just a couple of weeks. And for some, that struggle in all other aspects of school, for a bright, shining moment they had accomplished something great and someone was proud of them. They were proud of themselves.
Taking that moment toward the end of class lit a fire in some. They did not want to stop. They became the kids that wanted to continue getting praise. I felt like it was a turning point for some. And for me. I had reached them! At the end of class they were commenting how much they loved art and were so sad they were going to the middle school next year and would not be here with me next year.
So how was I changed? Students need to see their progress in art as much as math. They need to know that they grew and learned something from me as much as any other class. It keeps them interested and makes them long to do more. This was not something I thought too much about before. I just knew kids did not know it before, I teach it, now they know. Now I guess I know better.
This is the picture of one of my fourth grader's lighthouse drawings. You can see why they were so excited!