Illustrator, Becky Simpson says it best, “Sincere enthusiasm is not bragging. Enthusiasm is contagious and gives others permission to do the same.” What helps create sincere enthusiasm? Taking part in the journey.

As an art teacher, there is more to what we teach than just an end product worthy of hanging in the hallway. The process to get to the end product is just as (if not more) important. Excitement and enthusiasm are then created through the hard work and the journey to reach the end product.

The learning that takes place while creating art is what we desire for our students, but as art teachers, are we recognizing the value that the process of creating also holds for ourselves? Our classrooms should be a vessel of tools and resources that breed excitement for us as teachers. When we teach with manipulatives we have created, we have the chance to share with our students what we learned during the art making process. Our resources then become more than a poster hanging on the wall, but an opportunity for a meaningful teaching experience in our classroom.

I recently embarked on my own journey to create a color wheel for my classroom. I knew just a poster of the color wheel wasn’t going to be enough to satisfy me. After much thought and many ideas I didn’t like, I came up with the idea for a sunburst color wheel. I set out to look at various sunbursts and how they were made, gathered my supplies, and practiced with some different layouts and designs. Once I was happy with the placement of the various size wooden dowels, I planned out how I would paint them.

I painted everything as separate pieces, using primary and secondary colors for the wood circle and incorporating the intermediate colors on the wooden dowels. After everything was painted I attached the pieces temporarily with masking tape. Once I was happy with the exact placement I used hot glue to adhere them more securely. I was done. Or so I thought.

I liked my color wheel but I didn’t love it. I am one of those people who is not satisfied with my work unless I love it. After sharing pictures of my color wheel on a couple of social media sites I received a few ideas that solidified the fact that I had more work to do. I used a few of the suggestions others made and decided to add a smaller wooden circle in the middle, painted with the primary colors, and to add small circles on the ends of the longer wooden dowels.

Now, I loved it and I knew it was complete. I had created something I was truly proud of. I trusted the art making process, leaned into the advice of others, and allowed the journey toward the end product to stretch my thinking. I now have a resource I created that I am excited to share with my students.

It’s unique, it took time and effort to make, and I learned something through the experience that I can also teach my students. I learned you should always push yourself to do your best. When I was not 100% happy with the color wheel I knew in my heart it wasn’t my best and that it was not complete. I was reminded how invaluable it is to allow others to critique your work during the art making process. After hearing others’ ideas I was pushed to re-evaluate my piece and decide whether or not it was truly my best work.

What’s most valuable is that the lessons I learned are all lessons that can be carried over into the art making experience my students have in my classroom. Creating this color wheel was a journey that sparked enthusiasm in me that I know will be contagious in my classroom when we get to this unit. Furthermore, because I am conscious about my enthusiasm it will give my students permission to do the same in their work. So as you create your manipulatives for the new school year I encourage you to get excited and do your best – the impact on your students will be even greater than you might think!

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To learn more about Karen Nall check out her bio here.