Being more aware of ourselves and our environment is always an area of priority and emphasis within all facets of life, from education, social and work related contexts. As a teacher it is important to examine where we can intentionally build a culture of mindfulness within the routine, structure and expectations of the classroom, and in this case, the Art Room.
At the beginning of every lesson, no matter the theme, or the tightness of the programme or looming project deadlines, we have a 'Warm-Up' time. Within these first 10-20 minutes, students have the opportunity to leave everything that was on their mind prior to walking into the room to take a break and allow them to get into the zone. I have music playing, and an expectation of quiet. Straight forward instructions together with all of the equipment that they need are placed at each table.
Students then simply explore. There is no expectation of assessment or judgement; just the opportunity to experiment with a new media, technique or tools. They can explore different paints, colours, lines textures or materials, whilst allowing their mood and focus to shift from the environment outside of the room, and into the safety and inclusiveness of the environment within the room.
Over the course of the year students have the opportunity to sample a wide range of arts techniques and media without being constrained by the limits of units or curriculum structures. They also comment that this time allows them to enter into and focus on the creativity and mode of expression that is needed within this subject area.
In many cases, students often come back in the weeks following, to show samples of work they have done at home, that was inspired by the warm up, or the next step they have created by transferring skills.
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