Learning New Ways To Teach
Eighty Waldorf teachers stared back at me from my computer screen yesterday as we were socially distanced but still communicating on the Zoom app to talk about what all teachers are talking about this week….how DO you teach the arts when students are in their home rather than in their classroom?
From each of our living rooms we were questioning. What are YOU going to teach? Can you teach knitting online? Are you sending home materials? How can you keep your class connected? Will parents be stressed out or jump in to help?
Some of the best ideas for distance learning can easily be carried out by families at home. One teacher was planning a scavenger hunt to get kids away from screens and moving. She is placing treasures around her community park that relate to her lesson. One teacher is making a whistle out of chicken bones, string and hydrogen peroxide. (Yeah, I don’t know how that works either but it sounds cool!)
Shoe-tying, making knots and macrame are popular. Soap carving can be done with tools commonly in households. Kite making was a popular idea to get families learning together and outside for some movement.
Projects for Community Building
Some ideas were around community building. Having each member of the community create a small piece of art that will be brought back together to make a whole art piece when group activities resumed is a great way to share the comforting idea with young children that we will be back together again. Learning a community song to be sung at the return of activities is another way to do this.
Knitting and Passion Projects
Some teachers will teach knitting to small groups online. Some are making you tube videos that will be available to all teachers including those that teach at home.
With so much time off, students have time to pursue their own interests so I will be encouraging and supporting “Passion Projects” for my middle school students. Whatever they choose to make they can bring to school when we resume for a Passion Project Art Show.
You can see more ideas to enrich your own lesson plans here.
I left that call feeling stronger in my own lesson plans, with a few new technical skills and a great appreciation for my colleagues across the world.
The Learning will Continue This Summer
Yesterday’s conference call was just the beginning of Practical Arts teachers gathering to learn together. This summer, Renee Schwartz, waldorfcurriculum.com, will continue the learning that Practical Arts Teachers will do when they all gather to hear Renee speak at Wool Wood Wax, a Waldorf Practical Arts Teaching Workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado. Renee will be bringing her amazing knowledge of the Waldorf Classroom Blocks and sharing how weaving is a thread that can connect to many ages and many blocks. Renee will join Thesa Callinicos, Art & Grade Level Teacher at Gradalis Teacher Training who will speak to the Role of Imagination, Intuition and Inspiration in the Practical Arts and Clay Modeling Through the Grades and Logan Nance, Educational Support at Mountain Sage Community School, who will teach about Therapeutic Movement. I will be giving a session on Working with the Will in the Woodshop. Homeschool, private and public teachers are all invited.
I am glad that Renee and others with similar passions are gathering to teach and learn from each other in a variety of places. Whether in a Zoom app, at a kitchen table or at a workshop at the base of the Rockies, people are striving to better themselves and the next generation. That is some good news we can all use.
That’s what works for me! Barbara Albert, Practical Arts Teacher, Mountain Sage Community School, is sharing resources and organizing the Wool Wood Wax Workshop. Come check it out at https://woolwoodwax.org/
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