Monday, August 27, 2012

What Do You Want To Learn?

I started a new adventure today. Last June my position was cut at the charter school I worked for for one year. So, after spending most of the summer searching for a new job I landed a pretty cool gig and started today. After being mostly out of the classroom for five years working as a technology integration specialist and technology coordinator I returned to work today as an art teacher at the Perpich Center.

Back when I started my career twelve years ago I visited this place a couple of times and fell in love with it. It is the only state-run high school in Minnesota. It only serves 11th and 12th graders and all students have to go through a rigorous application process to attend. About half of the students live on campus in a residence hall and the other half are commuters. Every student who attends this school is uniquely devoted to one or more disciplines within the arts. In many ways this is my dream job but it is definitely not what I expected to be doing this year.

Five years ago when my full-time ALC art position in Fridley, MN was cut I shifted careers and began my work in education technology. At that point I didn't realistically think I would be offered the chance to teach art again. In fact, most of the job interviews I went on this summer were for education technology jobs. So, I was very surprised and delighted to be asked to interview for what once was, and in many ways still is, my dream job. I think this means that I will be coming out of exile as an art teacher.

Now, this new position is not without its glitches. This school is over an hour and a half from my house so my daily commute will be quite a bit longer than I have been used to. This is also technically only a one-year position filling in for a staff member who is on leave so it is hard to justify moving at this point. I will have to wait and see. Also, what I teach exactly is still being decided. My schedule is kind of amorphous but I do know that I will be the visual arts gallery coordinator. I will also teach an animation class this term and a sculpture class later in the year. What else I teach will be determined as the year progresses.

Today was our first day and was basically just orientation for new students (and for me). Tomorrow will be the first time I really get to meet with my animation students for regular class. I have no syllabus yet. I have very little idea what supplies or tools I will have to work with. I also want to take what the kids want to get out of the class in consideration when laying out a course framework. So, I've decided that I will start the class off tomorrow by showing this video:

What Do You Want To Learn? from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.

The first project will be for the students to create their own curriculum board together but to animate it's creation. It is my intention that this will be at least a one-week project and a great introduction to stop-motion animation. It will also be a great community building activity and give me a good idea of how to tailor the course to meet their needs. When the students complete their curriculum board animation project I will upload and share it.

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