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Janie’s COVID Teaching Story

April 27, 2020

How the pandemic impacted Janie’s teaching

Janie Snider teaches has been teaching for 27 years in Washington and Hancock counties. Presently she teaches  Visual Art and is the Technology Integrator at Hancock Grammar School. Ms. Snider’s art curriculum provides art experiences for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade. The art classroom is designed as a  student-centered, standards-based curriculum. Ms. Snider has been involved with (MALI) Maine Arts Leadership Initiative since 2012, focusing on best practices that will provide all students with a successful art education.

 In this blog post Janie shares how she’s adjusted to ‘schooling away from school’ or “Art from Home” as she calls it! Janie has her lessons posted on the school website from her art classroom webpage. She is changing up her website to be more interactive.

In the early days of the closure I was in “survival” mode. I had to quickly develop some packets to go home physically with my students. I created “Art from Home” packets for grades K-4 and 5-8 considering their needs.

INITIAL QUESTIONS 

  • What are their needs?
  • Do they have supplies?
  • What can they use?
  • Do they have internet?

My goal was to try to meet these needs for at least the next two-three weeks! How can I reach them all?

I was overwhelmed by the amount of resources being offered via the web. Museum virtual openings, various websites for arts & crafts, teachers pay teachers, colleges and educational sites all available. I was busily sharing this info with colleagues, parents, friends and family until I couldn’t think straight. I spent about two weeks in my non-working clothes on the couch with three devices going and the news in the background. It was not working, my frame of mind was jumping from frantic planning to complacent non-belief thoughts.

Luckily, I woke one day with the ah-ha moment, “I AM THEIR RESOURCE!!!” What my students need is me and I need them! I need the one-to-one, class-to-class connection! So I settled in and redesigned my art studio/toy room. It has a whole new component, an art classroom! Google classrooms are evolving and with the addition of Google meets I’m feeling so much better. I can see their faces, can answer questions, make jokes and see their smiles! I must say I miss my daily hugs, so it’s (((Air Hugs)))! My 2nd grade class was amazing, they were all engaged, listening when needed, drawing with me, asking questions, muting and unmuting, giving thumbs up and showing me their work!! We were sharing an ART EXPERIENCE and my heart was filled with JOY!!

I have always known that the arts are vital to the growth of our inner spirit and our overall well-being. We see it everyday now in how people are choosing their time and self-care. They are creating artworks, listening and performing music, dancing and creating videos and performances to share with the world! However, what I have come to realize is the inequality of the playing field for my students. Not all of my students have the technology and supplies to create nor the guidance to support and nurture their creativity! As the teacher, how can I do my part to change this now and in the future? I am working on the answer to this question so that it will inform my teaching and learning.

How to raise student engagement in a digital setting is a priority! Creating best practices and strategies to enhance their art experience is essential to me! Contemplating the standards and skills are part of this new process. Personally for me, continuing to explore and use the studio habits in this digital planning and instruction is a good framework. I believe these habits/skills contribute to resiliency and that is something positive!

I am taking good care of myself! Im in a routine, daily yoga, a walk, dance three times a week, eating healthy, working in my yard and gardens. Being out in nature is really important for me, it enables great reflection and moments of insight! I find my mental state shifts between GRIEF and GRATITUDE and I allow both of these to exist as a daily part of my experience!

I think many positives will come out of this dark time, such as, light! A light that shines on many social and environmental issues. I’m thinking many people will emerge with a deeper appreciation for family, nature, arts, science, healthcare, education and the quality of how we use our time!!! I think we will look back and see how much inspiration and creativity flourished in during this time!

2 comments

  1. Wonderful, Janie! Love your aha moment!


  2. Thanks for your comment Catherine!
    ~Argy



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