Last evening, I had the pleasure of welcoming parents of my students into my classroom. Each parent moved with their child from class to class like a regular school day and teachers gave short presentations about the general activities in their classroom. In my presentation, I commented on our first few assignments where we learned about the illusion of space, and shading etc. However, the real push was to inform parents about our new Standards Based Assessment program in the art room.
While I talked, I watched as parents expressions started to tell of their apprehension, then understanding, then acceptance. I tried to point out to each group that until now, it was almost impossible to explain where an art grade came from. Many parents nodded in agreement. With our new standards based assessment, I still record grades, but these are educated guesses made by students as to what their grade should be. I occasionally council a student to change the percentage. But for the most part, students are willing to celebrate victory, and identify weakness. Usually, if I ask a student to modify their “guess grade” it goes up instead of down.
One parent explained that she was worried when she saw the “guess grade.” She remembered being asked to guess at her grade in Electronics, and she said “B-” out of modesty. She soon realized that she should have said, “A.”
In my talk I also advertised our new student blogs. For most of my teaching career, when I talked to parents, they had very little information about what actually happened in my classroom. They might hear about a great painting project, or a broken ceramics attempt, but they really know what was being described until parent night or the end of the year show. I could see the excitement in parent’s eyes when I told them that they now had a window into my classroom. They could check our their students work, even comment if they like. Mentioning comments drew sharp stares from the students who attended. On student commented, “That only leads to trouble at home.” Both the parent and I smiled.
I think we had a great night.
In Studio 201 we are not Waiting for Superman. We are making things happen.