The academic term coming to an end, and it will soon be time for the grand Parent-Teacher Meeting, the event where teachers and parents try to impress each other at the cost of their children’s discomfort. Two or three times a year, every teacher works extra hard to put everything in order in the classroom. Things like classwork, worksheets, test papers, notes, everything the child does is is dissected and analysed by every subject teacher. Everyone, except the art teacher.
The art teacher gets to hangout in a corner that they assigned themselves, to wait for parents who have no idea what to talk about. I was that art teacher. I sat there all day on my first PTM, rehearsing what to say to whose parent. But nobody seemed to have the time to chat with the art teacher, the one person who sees children at their expressive and creative best. Some parents accidentally walked into my room, and all I did as an art teacher was give directions to the real staff room.
But it’s true, that parents don’t have much to say to the art teacher. And worse, sometimes art teachers have nothing to say to parents. This seemed unacceptable to me. So here are a few things that parents and art teachers can talk about during the great PTMs.
- Parent: What kind of prompt does my child need to get started in art class?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it in every post if necessary. Every child in your art class is unique. Some of them are very proactive and easily inspired, and some of them need a little prodding before they open up and start drawing. Some of them have a hyperactive imagination that gets to work before instructions are complete, while some take a while to create a mental image. This reflects in the way the child expresses himself, and it’s definitely worth a discussion.
- Teacher: Your child likes working alone / working in a team
We plan activities for individual kids as well as groups of three, or five, or half the class. Some activities need a child’s individuality to complete (like drawing with prompts and origami) while some work best as group activities (like colouring a huge poster for the notice board). While making groups and assigning works, we art teachers come across all reactions from “I want to be grouped with my friend” to “that group is hogging all the glue and we’re struggling here, Ma’am!”. How the child behaves while working alone and in the group says a lot about them.
- Parent: What are the art supplies my child likes?
Of the few parents who actually came to me with questions about art, the most common question was ‘what to buy’. Just like everything, art supplies is an industry and people are bombarded with products that they’re not sure they need. Stores are full of paints and colours and DIY kits that look attractive, but end up in a pile under the bed. Parents aren’t sure what art supplies their children like, and often, children have no clue either. But if you take a look at their art works, the teacher can point out how comfortable a child is with a pencil, a crayon, a paintbrush, a pair of scissors, glue..anything. Talk about how to create an interesting art room environment at home.
- Parent- My kid and I worked together on a small DIY model at home, OR he mentioned the name of an artist at home and wanted to find out more about him.
A nugget like this would really make me happy and prompt me to share more about the activity we did in class. About why we planned it, what was the objective and how the parent can take that curiosity further. Similarly, the parents’ observation of how the child worked with them would give me an idea of the child’s interests. This kind of interaction helps build a team with the teachers and parents working in tandem to help develop the child’s interests.
- Teacher: What makes your child special is ….
The art class is the only place where there’s no standardised test and nobody is measured with a benchmark. We do not discuss numbers here. We discuss stories. When I was with a class, I remembered children from the way they used colour, from the way they interpreted my instructions, the way they drew borders for every drawing, the way they turned every drawing into a comic strip with dialogues.. and so on. There’s always a special quality. After a long talk of how near or far the child is from the standardised benchmark, it should be refreshing for a parent to hear how perfectly weird and special their child is.
Talk about it. Bring art into conversation!