When the 2020-21 school year was in its planning stages, the District had to envision how students would receive various types of instruction, while maximizing the safety of students and their teachers.
While some changes teachers have made for the 2020-21 school year are obvious, others are not as well known among parents and members of the community.
Among the teachers in unique situations are elementary art teachers across Frisco ISD, some of whom have taken their teaching “on the road” this school year. Instead of multiple groups of students physically coming to the art room each day during specials time, some art teachers are taking their supplies and instruction from classroom to classroom, often on a cart. Each teacher’s cart is a little different and reflects their personality and teaching style.
“My cart has paints, paint brushes, cups, paper, extra supplies, tote trays to hold work, a flip chart and so much more,” said Gunstream Elementary art teacher Kimberly Caldwell. “I even installed pegboards on the sides of my cart to maximize storage space.”
Meanwhile, McSpedden Elementary art teacher Kaitlyn Hartmann can be found going class to class in a colorful tutu with a cart that always includes her document camera and laptop.
Caldwell and Hartmann meticulously plan out each day and try to anticipate the needs of their students in order to maximize learning.
During a typical school year, the art room is bustling with activity and creativity as students come and go throughout the day. Normally, art supplies are shared between classes and grade levels and students often walk around the room to share their artwork with friends.
Students are always excited to work with their specials teachers and despite the change in scenery with students taught in their homeroom, students are more excited than ever.
“Now, I feel like a rockstar when I walk into their classroom,” Hartmann said. “They listen to the approach of my wheels and everytime I enter the classroom, they all squeal with excitement as they clear their desks and prep to engage in extended creativity.”
After a recent activity, McSpedden first grader Caden Benson proudly held up his completed artwork to show to a friend across the room and beamed with pride.
“We’re working on our art muscles!” Caden exclaimed excitedly. “Like you draw and do it again and again. It makes you stronger!”
As students finished their artwork, they pulled out their iPads from their cubbies by their desks and took pictures of their artwork for their digital art portfolios in SeeSaw. The students are clearly aware of the expectations of the art classroom, no matter the setting.
While this year has brought about changes, Caldwell points out that students and their artwork have adapted beautifully.
Students have the freedom to formulate their own ideas, develop a plan and take ownership of their artwork.
“It’s all about the process and journey and not necessarily the product,” Caldwell said. “During this tumultuous time, these moments for contemplative creativity are vital to their development and processing of the pandemic.
“Through art, students process their worries, feelings and emotions. When they have a strong feeling, we talk about what colors, composition or shapes might represent what they are thinking about. Art is more important than ever and even if we have to travel classroom to classroom, we’ll do whatever we have to.”
McSpedden Principal Kranti Singh echoes the importance of art and extends her appreciation to the dedicated art teachers across FISD, including Hartmann.
“Even in the pandemic, her passion has carried on and she has been able to think outside the box to create the same learning environment for her kids as a regular school year,” Singh said.
Thank you to our elementary visual art teachers who are going above and beyond to make sure all students have access to a creative outlet.