In various schools where I’ve worked, the Art Room always appeared to be one of those places that could have been mistakenly viewed as a place fallen into grubby disrepair, worn like a true art student who knows the holes in her jumper are a badge not of shame, but a mark of thrifty pride. The Art Room may have lacked some of the shine of its rival places in a school, however it had a proud integrity of purpose and design. A haven for the seekers of solitude, yet always space to feel connected in our creative pursuits.
When I first transitioned to working from home, I was caught by surprise by how much I missed the classroom. Having spent 15 years in various roles in schools, my favourite place in any school was inevitably the Art Room. I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would miss the dynamics of the studio. The deep conversations, the laughter over silly jokes, even the teenage angst that would slouch in after lunch and slowly dissolve over a 45 minute period.
Term 1 2020 will be a time in many educators careers that won’t be forgotten as they transitioned to teaching full time online for the first time amid an unfolding crisis of COVID-19. Many began to miss being with their classes. The energy young people bring to the class. The chatter and laughter that comes so easily to youth. That “ah-ha” moment when a topic is understood.
We will look back on this time and hopefully be able to laugh about the times when online classes went a little haywires. Or when conducting classes remotely it felt like being a first-year teacher all over again.
For many teachers they will be able to reflect on how the dynamics of their classes changed. They discovered some students thrived with autonomy to complete work on their own terms. Others missed the supportive environment and structure that they have become used to.
Hopefully all of us realised that the best way forward was to just keep things simple. Being clear and consistent with communication channels, and remembering that simplicity is the key.
As we worked hard to lay the foundations on which we would continue to build, we reminded ourselves that it was better to do a few things well than to do too many things unsuccessfully.