Bulb Archived: Telpochcalli SCALE 2016-2017: Oesterlin & Estrada

Due January 27th:

Teacher: Dana Oesterlin

Artist: William Estrada

School: Telpochcalli

Big Idea:  Art can be a form of activism- Public Art and Activism

Inquiry Question:  

How can we help students understand and speak up about issues they care about through art?

How do we use art to reflect and address issues happening in our neighborhood?

Fall/Winter

Art Content: Stickers, screen prints, sketches

Non-Art Content: Voting, violence, concept of activism

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

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We started the year by defining the terms in the title of our program- Public Art and Activism.  We then launched our first project by discussing the importance of voting.  Once we had our list of reasons to vote students designed stickers and images to screen print. 
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Students took their images outside the day before the election and printed them to pass out and to invite the community to color them and add to them. The students are putting into practice the ideas we have been discussing in the class. Actively engaging the community through the artwork they have created, asking the community to reflect on what it means to vote, what is at stake for them and the participants. Students are applying the skills and knowledge we have seen other community artists apply during community campaigns, this is a great example of what we intended to explore.
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Students and the community were engaged in the project and the students were excited to share their work with others. Students blurred the lines of student and teacher by situating themselves in positions of authority. While we, the adults, were present, students facilitated the workshops. Communicating our intentions to various aged community members, screen printing the posters, distributing the posters, and inviting community members to personalize the posters they had designed. This is what I imagine agency looks like!

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After the election we brought students back to the drawing board and had a lively discussion about the concept of activism.  Students brainstormed ideas for the topic they wanted to explore and respond to.  They eventually landed on the topic or violence. Its always hard to define whether we are meeting our goals or not since they keep shifting, they shift because our ideas shift based on the daily conversations we have with the students. The only thing we know for sure is that we are creating works of art that are relevant to us and our communities and that we want to make this work public. We attempt to be intentional and transparent in the process but its also very messy, which makes the process of collaboration at times frustrating. This “messiness” is what makes this process most interesting and hard.
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The students then discussed the causes of violence through writing and class discussions and came up with three categories. 1. Normalization of violence 2. Violence seen as cool and 3. Mental illness and substance abuse. They wrote poems based on these ideas in groups. Then they each choose images from the poems to illustrate.
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Because the images were often dark we decided to try making opposite images for each of the sketches and students created images that showed the world of violence and the world they hoped for.  They then did color schemes and final drawings of both of the contrasting images. 

Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

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Student began to express themselves more through this process.  We struggled some with how to meet all students needs as far as amount of time discussing or drawing.  Some had long attention spans while others did not.  We continue to work through ways to keep some of the students engaged while others need even more time to process.  

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

The images we have provided are a small glimpse of the work we are doing. The process has been the most important, establishing trust with students, reflecting on how we work, what it means to collaborate, and how we define the themes we will be working with. All this takes time and we are learning together how to define it, slowly, patiently, and in the process we are learning about who we are as a class. We are just beginning to define what we are doing, why its important to us, and how it affects our community. We aren’t sure if its successful yet but we do know we are learning to work together. 

How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

For Dana it was a bit more of an adjustment than expected. I had worked with William before in school and I had done after school programs with three other teachers. However the in school was William coming into a classroom environment and curriculum that I had established. With the other three artists after-school I was also the one who had done it before and I felt more comfortable with theater. In this case I realized that William had done this before and had a sense of what it should be like, and although he was clear we were a team I struggled to find my place in the work. I recently began elements of a morning meeting at the beginning of each class and that has helped me feel better about the work. 

Collaborating is hard, especially when you are codeveloping projects. Dana and I are learning to work together in a different space, although we have worked with each other for various years, the roles we were assigning ourselves didn’t work anymore. We were attempting to work within the roles we had identified for ourselves based on on previous collaborations, not taking into consideration that what we are doing is different. The other layer to this is that we were also attempting to manage was the role of the students. As we were attempting to define our roles as teachers, we were also inviting the students to reimagine their roles within the classroom as facilitators and coteachers. It has been a slow process but I think we are slowly reaching a balance. It has taken various individual conversations, classroom meetings, planning, creating, and a lot of laughing to begin creating a space where we can all feel comfortable building the space we want to learn and teach in — and we are just beginning to scratch the surface.

Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

In the beginning when I (Dana) was feeling lost I struggled to identify what I wanted to happen and that was frustrating for both of us.  William helped me communicate and identify some ideas we could try to make it feel more like both of our class. 

Our plans consisted of broad ideas and projects we wanted to explore, we presented them to students and based on students ideas, we responded and built from those interests. At first the process seemed chaotic and unorganized, but I felt that this is part of the process of creating a collaborative space. Part of the learning we all needed to do was to go through the process of creating a space where we could all feel excited to be in the space. Sometimes that space looks like a classroom with desks where we are sitting, sometimes its an open space where we sit in a circle to discuss ideas, sometimes its multiple spaces where we work and listen to music, sometimes its chairs where we are sharing what we did during the weekend, and sometimes it isn’t a classroom at all. Its taking the time to figure out what our individual needs are, what spaces we need to learn our best and how we are planning what we are learning that is crucial in creating collaborative spaces. We are still figuring out how we plan, it isn’t perfect but we listen to each other, Dana and I are constantly checking in with each other, making sure we are defining things similarly and consistently, we are asking students throw ideas and feelings about our approach, attempting to clarify our own uncertainties. This is what it looks like and it looks a little different everyday. 

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

We collaborate in teaching.  Dana tends to want to have activities that are shorter and William values making sure students have the time to really dig into the ideas and produce.  I think both together makes us pay attention to both needs. 

We all (students and teachers) walk into the classroom, students are sitting, some are standing, catching up on what they’ve done over the week, some students are doing homework or drawing, staring out the window, Dana and William talk to students. We organize our bags, books, pencils — take attendance and line up. When we are heading to lunch we talk, share jokes or stories. While we are sitting down eating lunch, Dana and I talk about what we want to do for class, how we will break down the ideas, what connections we will make to the last class, any new ideas we may have, things we are trying to figure out, what makes us worry. When we head back to the classroom from lunch, students re getting settled in and either William or Dana talks bout what we will be doing for the day, William usually writes down the plan, tries to figure out a chronological order. We check in with students, discuss any questions they may have, attempt to gauge their interests, make adjustments to our timeline based on comments, clarifications, concerns. Then based on the activity, we divided the responsibilities — Dana will teach/discuss/guide parts of the work and William will do others, constantly adjusting and making intentional and unintentional connections to make the themes more relevant. Students work individually and in groups, although most have identified their desks based on who their friends are or where they sat during the first weeks of class. The teaching roles are fluid and while we facility a lot of the initial discussion, most of the class is run like a studio space, checking with students individually and making sure we facilitate any questions they may have. 

Due May 31st:

Winter/Spring

Art Content:

Non-Art Content:

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

We started a project as an extension of the work we had began on violence and began to look at prisons.  The students seemed engaged and we watched a documentary and discussed the issue of the prison system.  We created Tableaus based on phrases we found related to the Prison Industrial Complex and were planning to project the images and create wheat paste pieces with them. 

We saw that there began to be some difficulties with the group.  The younger students were having trouble engaging in the project and some of the older students began to rebel a little.  We tried a couple of techniques to get them on board, including a circle discussion.  The group was not very open and we still struggled with how to go forward.  The students asked to have some free drawing time every class and we agreed.  We then interviewed the students one on one to better identify the real issues and to hear all voices.  Although the students did not all agree on the solutions a couple of themes emerged that lead our next steps.  First students wanted to take our art outside again, second many wanted a bit less heavy topic, and third there was a need to try other techniques to get the students to work with other kids.  We decided to finish making the images that had come from their Tableau’s based on the Prison Industrial complex and take them outside to paint them. We will also assign groups more often.  Our next topic will be less heavy as well.   

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Learning how to mix paint for our Prison Industrial Complex mural paintings.

Now we are finishing the year by contrasting the ideas in the prison industrial complex pieces to what we want for our own school.  Students looked at the images they created and then made lists of ideas that would be the opposite of those ideas.  They created poems based on these positive attributes and then made Tableaus to represent those ideas.  These tableaus will be the essence of the mural we are creating at the entrance of the school. 

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Students trying different poses to represent their poem while William photographs. 
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One group’s Tableau to represent the line “we are all free”. 
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Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

Students were able to think about the ways that we could turn the negative ideas into something positive.  We also had to set a goal to make the class a more positive place and we had the students suggest ways they wanted to work, I think this helped that about 60% of the students felt more ownership over the class. 

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

Please insert your response here. You may add, text, images or video.

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How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester?

We worked on ways to have the students take on some more leadership.  We struggled some with our different styles and tried to talk to each other about the goals we had and what we needed to feel successful.

Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

We have different styles of working with students, our final approach was to try to get the students to have more ownership in the program by inviting them to give suggestions and then to work the class around what they wanted.  They wanted more painting, more positive topics, and more outside/free drawing time so we made a plan to finish the prison industrial work by painting and then turn them into something positive.  We also included a less structured time at least once a week either outside or drawing inside. 

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

This was hard for me (Dana) at times as I had to take on the role of learner in a new way.   We decided to move to the art room where William had easy access to the art supplies, this helped us to do the work we were needing to do and I learned to find materials or ask William.  I would sometimes need to work with individual students or behavior, but at other times I would need to make sure I understood the directions of the art and ask question or take on the role of the student.   This could be challenging as I am used to being the teacher, but it was a good opportunity for growth and to think from the students perspective.  

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