The little kids have invaded my classroom. I don’t mind this; I am, in fact, pretty excited about it. It is a little different, and it takes a little getting used to, but we’re doing some good things.
Two years ago, I started teaching evening art classes for elementary and middle school students. I’m not a stranger to teaching younger kids, because my first two years of teaching were spent traveling between seven different elementary buildings. You read that right. Seven. And that’s the main reason I teach these classes. Though things are getting significantly better, the art opportunities for younger students in my school district are few and far between (this will definitely be another post or two at some point). Teaching evening classes is my attempt at giving kids a chance to do some art, be creative, and learn and explore with art more than they would be able to otherwise.
The idea of teaching these classes was originally hatched in discussions with (now former) students, one who was an outstanding photographer, the other a ceramics superstar. Our talents were very complementary, and we decided that between the three of us, we would be able to offer a good variety of classes for kids. I will post the long story later this week about how we got everything started, but to keep it brief: We got the word out, got kids signed up, and we’ve been going strong ever since.
Last Thursday, we started our latest session of classes. I am teaching Glass Fusion, an elementary art teacher has a Drawing and Painting class, and Sculpture class is being taught by one of my outstanding senior students. Another senior art student, who wants to be an art teacher, is acting as an assistant and teaching when needed. It’s a really good setup, and I’m really happy with how things are going.
I’m not making a ton of money doing these classes—it’s enough to make it worth my while, but I’m not leaving my day job anytime soon. I pay to rent my art room, I try to pay the teachers well, and we use pretty high-quality supplies for the kids. Combining that with a desire to keep costs low for the parents, I don’t take a lot home. But that’s not what’s important. I want to give those kids opportunities they aren’t getting otherwise. I want them to have more experience, and more knowledge when they show up to my classroom in high school. More than anything, though, I want them to learn to love art.