Why I Post Student Work

The other day, I ran into a few of my Art teacher friends at an art museum workshop. After catching up on our current projects and local art shows, we were discussing the different ways that we post our students’ work- in both digital and physical style displays.

We’ve definitely all witnessed one of our budding artists mangling their artwork before it ends up at home… it’s the worst when you see your students shove their work intensive projects into their crammed backpacks-I’m sure we all agree on this! AH! I can hear myself begging, “NO, pleeeeease don’t fold that!!!!!!!” (OK, maybe not as nicely!)

That brings me to Reason 1:

1. Preservation

Unfortunately, we can’t control what happens to the work when it leaves our room. We can only store so many pieces of artwork, and though most of us DO probably land somewhere on the Hoarder Spectrum (if there is such thing?!) it’s simply unrealistic to store hundreds of pieces of work for our students.

So how do we balance hoarding with preserving? Digital! Online art galleries! Social Media albums!

And, photos of student artwork displays provides a documentation of their artistic progression. By taking up less space.

This gives us more opportunities for…

2. Reflection

Reflection is such a valuable tool for us teachers. We view and critique the work of our students to find areas of improvement for ourselves.

Maybe we remember what worked about the process of creating the artwork with that particular class and (probably with more clarity) what didn’t work.

3. Advocacy

I’ve found that the more visibility I gain from my students’ projects, the more people seem to value my role as an art educator. It’s hard to document the students’ creative process, but it’s helped me to pique people’s interest by displaying the end result.

Many times, a curious art display will spark a conversation involving the question, “How did they do that?” Before I know it, I start hearing appreciation of the work behind the art.

Posting artwork allows homeroom teachers, parents and administrators recognize the planning contributions by both the teacher and the artist.

4. Encouragement

I’ve actually had students come up to me and thank me for displaying their artwork! It’s amazing when this happens! Though, I chose “Encouragement” as the fourth reason with the intention that posting student work encourages the ARTIST, but as I write this I am realizing that, in turn, encourages me!

When displaying artwork, I don’t always choose the best exemplar… I choose the work of those artists who gave me a glimpse of something different and unique. Or, those who have demonstrated incredible improvement and effort over their time with me.

It’s my personal choice to NOT visibly display names when posting physical work in school, unless at an Art Show.  You may disagree, ownership and what not, but it’s because of this…

I’ve found that as students tend to compare their own abilities to others’, they internalize their inadequacies, instead of focusing on their positive progress.

This just seems to happen MUCH more often with names displayed.

But, I DO love to tell them in passing, “Did you notice your artwork up in the hallway?” and a lot of times, they don’t even recognize their own work… but are SO impressed with what they’ve come up with once they realize it! HUGE confidence booster!

And this way, they’re only competing with themselves.

5. Personal Achievement

As it nears the end of the year, I find myself looking online through all of the projects the students have created. It makes me feel like I accomplished so much when I see their amazing hard work.

I recall painstakingly planning the lesson sequence, thoughtfully arranging the supplies, and choosing the famous work or artist that best complements the lesson. I remember all of the emotional energy I’ve put into helping my Artists achieve their very best by carefully choosing feedback and/or appropriately directed compliments.

As teachers, we don’t get to see direct statistics on the change we are making in these students’ lives- it’s just not measurable.

The impact we create on their world is like a drop of water that causes ripple of water on a lake. It grows as time goes on…as their experiences connect back to their first sources of learning.

An anthology-like visual of an artwork display helps us gain a sense of accomplishment and enhances that connection with what we do and why we do it.

…After all, we KNOW we didn’t go into it for the money!!!! 🙂