Art-making Themes for Staff Goal Setting

For Middle Level

Staff members select something from nature that they feel connects with their goals: a feather, flower, branch, etc. In a series of exercises, they explore the object with different art media before settling into the final rendering. The aim is to experience a transformation of the object through careful observation and experimentation, symbolic of the transformation that occurs in students. Here are the steps of the process:
1. Place the object on a piece of white paper.
2. With graphite, create an observational drawing of the object.
3. Experiment with colored pencil as a tool.
4. Apply colored-pencil techniques to color drawings of various parts of the object.
5. Experiment with collage materials to render the shapes and textures of the object.
6. Integrate graphite, colored pencil, and collage media to create the final rendering of the object.
7. Write hopes/goals on paper and attach them to the artwork.


In the space of the sky
Staff members imagine and express their desires by observing the open space of the sky. In a quick field trip outside, they look up to the sky and make written and drawn notes of what they see. They allow their imagination to contemplate the infinite space above and expand their thinking about the possibilities for the coming year.

Teachers and administrators then return indoors and select images that express their aspirations from their notes. They create watercolor washes that reflect the sky background. Then collaged and drawn images are placed into the wash. The resulting artworks look as if each has taken a piece of the sky and placed it on paper. One of the teachers drew the chimneys that reached above the trees-as if to let her aspirations do the same. Aspirations were then written either on the artworks or placed alongside them.

Poems of hope
This process begins by immersing everyone in the language of hope. Staff members listen to and participate in choral readings of poetry such as Maya Angelou's poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" (below), as well as children's poems that express dreams and desires. These readings are followed by a watercolor process in which participants let the colors make their own forms on the soaked watercolor paper and identify shapes that suggest an inspiring image. The shapes may be brought forward with additional color. Participants attach their paintings to their written hopes for the year, and end the process by sharing those hopes/goals with each other.

From Maya Angelou's
"On the Pulse of the Morning"
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Erin Klug taught 7th and 8th graders at New City School in Minneapolis, and is now a Developmental Designs consultant for Origins.

This article first appeared in Developmental Designs: A Middle Level Newsletter, Fall 2010