What in the world is a SPARKworks? At Art Class Curator, we love to do things differently than what you’ll find anywhere else. Recently, I relaunched The Curated Connections Library with SPARKworks, a new name with new features for an established framework. In this episode, I walk you through what a SPARKwork lesson is, how to follow one step-by-step, and offer tips on how to use these sorts of lessons in your classroom.
3:21 – Why The Curated Connections Library became more than just about art history
5:21 – Goals of the membership for teachers and their students
10:22 – What a SPARKwork is and where the name comes from
14:22 – SPARKwork step #1 and the 4 Cs to curate a good work of art for your lessons
19:48 – Leading your lesson with art discussion and the goal you should aim for
25:25 – How SPARKworks encourage student engagement and impress your administration
29:29 – Discussing ways to complete the 4th step in the framework
33:07 – New details and benefits of joining the recently relaunched membership
39:28 – Why becoming a member is a preventative self-care gift to yourself
- Free Lesson Sample
- The Curated Connections Library
- Complete 5-Step Art Criticism & Conversation Framework
- Be a Podcast Guest: Submit a Voice Memo of Your Art Story (Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your story.)
Cindy Ingram: Hello and welcome to The Art Class Curator Podcast. I am Cindy Ingram, your host and the founder of Art Class Curator, and The Curated Connections Library. We’re here to talk about teaching art with purpose and inspiration from the daily delights of creativity to the messy mishaps that come with being a teacher. Whether you’re driving home from school or cleaning up your classroom for the 15th time today, take a second, take a deep breath, relax those shoulders, and let’s get started.
Hi everybody, it’s Cindy Ingram from The Art Class Curator. Today on the podcast, we are going to talk about our brand new SPARK Works lessons. They’re not actually brand new. They have a new name but we do have some new features to them as well. We’re going through to talk about the philosophy of what a SPARK Work lesson is. We’re going to walk through what they look like step by step. Throughout this episode, you’re going to get tips on how to use these lessons in your classroom and really we’re going to talk about some of the foundational elements of why we do things the way that we do at Art Class Curator, and why the way that we present lessons and the way that we teach is different than you’re going to find anywhere else.
Over the last many months, I have been working on writing a book. It’s very exciting. I’m really, really loving it now that I’ve gotten into it and now that I really know which direction the book is going. One of the things I’ve been thinking about a great deal is what is it that connects me so deeply with works of art? Why can I have this deep connection? Why am I so passionate about it? What value has it added into my life? One of the things that I’ve come to realize, just very recently, is that this connection to works of art, this powerful personal connection that I have is my magic. It is something that is just infused in every cell of who I am. It is really important to me to share that with the world. I think that when you have something that you know to be true and you know is so important to you, and so beneficial to the world, you just want to share it.
How it all began for me is I recognized that magic very early on and just leaned into it, followed it, let it bloom, let it blossom, and let it become what has now become this amazing business that I’ve created that gets to help students and teachers from across the world, and share that magic with them. When I hear people say, “Oh, Art Class Curator is about art history,” or something like that, I bristle a little bit because I’m like, “No, it’s so much deeper than just art history.” It’s been really fun to really work on pinpointing exactly what it is. What is that connection that I have to art? How can other people have that connection too? How do we get our students to also have that connection?
I do understand why people think we’re about art history because that’s really how I got started. Before I really fully understood what I was doing and the deeper meaning behind what I was doing, I did think it was more about art history. I would teach art history. I would do it in creative ways. When I started The Curated Connections Library, it came out of me having all of those art history lessons that I’d worked so hard on creating, sharing them with the world, and putting them into that membership site. But as I continued to work on it, as I continued to think about it, as I continued to write about it, as I continued to travel, and experience more and more, and more works of art, I realized that’s not what it was and that wasn’t my magic. Teaching art history creatively is something I’m good at but that’s not where the magic lies. The magic really lies in the art and in the art connection.
Starting back in September of 2017, we started doing what we call Artwork of the Week Bundles. In those, you get one artwork and you get a full lesson of discussion questions, engaging activities, project extensions, art projects that relate to that artwork, and all the stuff you need with it. We’ve been releasing these bundles since then and they’ve gotten more, and more elaborate over the years. The early ones you can tell are definitely not as fleshed out as the new ones. The new ones have a lot more information, a lot more activities, a lot more ideas, and they’ve just gotten better and better, and better.
What The Curated Connections Library has become is not about just art history and teaching art history. It’s a membership that is focused on art connection. It’s focused on that magic that we have with works of art and that magic that we can give to our students as well. This membership, The Curated Connections Library, has a lot of different goals. Those goals are number one, to share the love and that magic of art connection with our students. We do that through a lot of amazing activities, discussions, and important topics that need to be discussed and picked apart. There’s a lot of other goals that are wrapped up in that magic but the number one thing is that magic.
Our other goals that are circling that magic and are really the byproducts of that magic are one, developing a lifelong relationship to works of art. We are teaching students that art is there for them. Wherever they are in life, art is there for them. These artworks that we introduce to them become companions that they can take with them through their life. They become memories that they can refer to and remember, and connect to as they’re accomplishing new things in their lives as they go and become adults into their futures. These lessons are also really working on developing the whole student outside of just academic success, outside of just techniques and skills, and things like that. We’re looking at the full student. We’re looking at their social and emotional learning. We’re looking at their communication skills. We’re looking at their visual literacy and their critical thinking skills. We’re looking at their ability to have deep conversations and meaningful conversations about things that matter. All of that is wrapped up in the magic of that art connection. Those things just naturally happen when we deeply connect with works of art.
We’re also talking about the goals of the membership are also to help you as a teacher with your joy and your satisfaction in teaching. I had a podcast episode a few weeks ago with Jennifer Easterling. We talked about powerful art stories that we’ve had in our classroom and things that we’ve seen our students benefit from with these lessons and that lights you up as a teacher. It reminds you of who you are. That magic that we experience—I’m going to say the word magic a lot today, apparently—but that magic that we experience connecting with the work of art and the magic we experience teaching that work of art to our students, that fuels our love, our joy, and our purpose of teaching.
Also, these lessons in the membership help your student’s engagement. It helps them be more invested in art class. It helps you develop better relationships with them when you have these conversations with them. That will improve your classroom management. It will improve your relationships with your students and your buy-in overall to your curriculum from your students. These aren’t the only goals of the membership but as we’re looking at and talking about these types of lessons, I want you to know that it is something much deeper than just saving you time or adding some new ideas into your classroom. This is a movement. This is spreading light and magic into the world. When you look at it through that lens, I think that you can see what power these artworks have for you and for your students.
One of the things that we really realized in the pandemic of the last year is that we realized what matters. We realize who matters in our relationship. We realized what we don’t like and what we do like. We realized what we need in our lives versus what we want in our lives versus what we’re doing but we don’t actually want to do. All of that stuff that we learned, now we’re poised to take it into the future and create these meaningful experiences, and existences that now transcend the day-to-day and now add in that magic into our normal lives. I think that the pandemic just taught us so much about ourselves. We’re in a situation now where we’re ready for reconnection when someone has felt so disconnected over the last year, ready to jump back into our teaching with new vigor and with new energy. One of the things that you can do to do that is to have connections with works of art and share those connections with the people around you including your students. Most importantly, probably, your students after yourself. Yourself is the most important thing.
We’ve been releasing these new lessons every month since September of 2017. We’ve called them the Artwork of the Week Bundles. Now, from here on out, they’re going to be called SPARK Works. What a SPARK Work is, and where that name came from, is that we have been using the SPARK Art Criticism Framework for the last couple years. You can get that at artclasscurator.com/spark. We recently did reclaim your classroom where we went through and analyzed our use of that SPARK Framework in our SPARK Hybrid Learning Curriculum last year that we created specifically for the pandemic. As we were planning to figure out what the future was for SPARK and what the future was for the membership, The Curated Connections Library, we realized that both of those things are very similar in scope. SPARK was more straightforward in terms of you were given a certain number of lessons for week by week, whereas the membership is you get a lot more and you get a lot more flexibility.
What we decided to do was to combine the SPARK Hybrid Learning Curriculum into The Curated Connections Library. What that means is that now, the SPARK Works have some new features. We are adding in videos, like the SPARK Hybrid Learning Curriculum had, short videos that your students can watch to get some basic thoughts and ideas about the artwork, usually after you’ve done the activities because we don’t want to give them any information before they’ve had the chance to come up with the information for themselves. Then we’ve also added in a community feature, which will let you go in and post student work samples. You can go and talk about how it went. You can make suggestions on what went well and what didn’t go well. You can add all of that within the membership, which will help build that community resources feel.
We’ve also added elementary lessons. We’ve traditionally had just secondary. If you want elementary, you just have to modify down a little bit. Just like I said in last week’s episode that a lot of teachers tend to underestimate what their students are capable of. Instead of saying, “Yeah, just modify down, modify down, I promise you it works just as well,” we are now providing specific elementary lessons just for your younger kids. Now, the new lessons have two lesson plans per artwork. One of them has an elementary that has specific K-2 activities and specific 3-5 activities, then the secondary lesson, which is middle and high school. We’re super excited about all of these new developments.
Let’s go through and talk about what a SPARK Work is and what makes it so magical. These lessons are developed on our Curated Connections Framework, which is curate, discuss, engage, and create. We pick a work of art, that’s our curate step, then we discuss it in our classroom, we do the engaging activities, we do an art project that’s related to it. It’s a full comprehensive learning experience for your students. Everything feels really cohesive but it’s also really flexible. We’ll talk a little bit more about that later, how you can take these lessons and add them into your curriculum. You always love to do this one project with your fourth graders, now, you have this resource of over 175 artworks to choose from that you can plug in. If you’re doing this project on color mixing, you can look through, you can filter the SPARK Works, and find one that shows a good use of color. That is something that is really easy and flexible to use, especially with our brand new redesign of the membership site.
Let’s go through these steps of SPARK Work, the steps of The Curated Connections Framework and talk about some of the main considerations that you want to think about when doing this lesson with your classroom. At the end, I’ll talk to you a little bit more about how to access your Curated Connections Library and what options we have available to you right now.
Our first step is Curate. That is a really, really important step. Now, you can take just about any work of art. Pick it off the internet, throw it up in front of your classroom, and kids are going to find something awesome to say about it. Kids are so good at talking about art, reflecting art, coming up with cool interpretations, and noticing things that you would never notice. They’re so good at that but when you really intentionally pick a work of art that you know your students are going to like, you’ve crossed so many hurdles already. Picking a good work of art is going to help with your student engagement. It’s going to help with your classroom management. When the students are excited about what they’re looking at when their curiosity is peaked, you automatically have students who are interested in what you’re presenting. So picking a really amazing and relevant work of art.
We use what we call the four 4Cs and that’s you want to pick an artwork that’s “captivating”, that captures their attention really quickly. You want to pick an artwork that’s “communicative”, that has stories and messages to be found. There are things that you can pick apart and meanings to be found. You also want it to be “complex”, so yes, communicating a story or a message or something but that it’s communicating more than one. There’s many different directions that you can go with the artwork that’s complex. Then the last one is “connected”. Is it the right art for your kids? I think that is one that’s underlooked as I see art teachers talk about what art they’re showing their kids. Even sometimes, we’ll be like, “Well, why don’t you have a lesson on this ex-famous white male artist?” I’m like, “Well, it’s not that we don’t like that white male artist but we want to have many other opportunities and many other voices represented.”
If you’re only showing Monet’s, Van Gogh’s, Da Vinci’s, Picasso’s, just the famous guys, you’re leaving out so much beauty and rich magic out there in the world. I’ll be the first to tell you that Picasso’s magic is what caused me to even say this word magic in the first place. That is where I learned that art was magic, but there’s so much more art available and so much that your students can connect to. When you’re picking works of art, pick topics that are relevant to your kids, that are from cultures that represent your kids, races, genders that represent your kids.
What’s great about The Curated Connections Library is we do have over 170 works of art available. They’re filterable. You can filter by gender. You can filter by part of the world where they’re from. You can filter by element or principle of art. You can filter by what art form it is—so sculpture, photography, architecture, digital art, that sort of thing. You can filter by time period, so do you want something from now? Do you want something from ancient art? Those are all the things that you can filter by. We also have a special interest category that you can filter by ones that are just in the Art History 250 for AP. You can filter by LGBTQ artists. There’s a lot of different things that you can filter by to find the right artwork for your kids.
Once you’ve picked your work of art, you’ve gone on to The Curated Connections Library, you’ve filtered, you’ve searched, you’ve pinned down what you want, you’ve bookmarked it in the site that has that capability, then you can download all of the resources for that lesson. With our lessons, we have a lesson plan, which includes your discussion questions, your talking points about the artwork, your biography of the artist and/or the culture, all of the learning activities, obviously, the resources, the learning styles that are covered, the list of all your handouts, that sort of thing are all in that lesson plan. Then you also get all of your worksheets that you might need, so say there’s a compare and contrast activity where you’re going to compare one artwork with another one from a different culture, that’s in there, ready to go with both of the images already on there and easy to print, easy to go, and download and use in your classroom.
Everything is also editable. We have both Microsoft Office versions, Doc versions, PDF versions, then new also with the new site is Google Doc versions as well. Lots of ways to download these files so that they are ready to go. Also, you get a PowerPoint, so the artwork’s ready to throw up on your screen and you’re ready to go. New lessons are also getting videos. Not all of the lessons have videos but we do have videos for everything that was in The SPARK Hybrid Learning Curriculum. I think at least 30 of the artworks have videos, then all new ones from here on out have videos as well.
In your next step, you’ve downloaded your files, you’re ready to do your lesson, we have the Discuss section. Now, sometimes, you want to do your activity before you do your discussion. Sometimes, you want to do your discussion before you do your activity but that’s up to you to do. But we’re going to talk about it in the order of The Curated Connections Framework. Our first step is Discuss. Now, I have done many, many trainings online on how to lead in art discussion. In the membership, The Curated Connections Library, you will find those training. There are webinars and recordings on how to lead an art discussion. There are past programs that we’ve done. Also, what we have in the membership is called the Art Appreciation Master Class.
Now, that was before I started calling it an art connection, not art appreciation. I need to change the name of that eventually. I just have not gotten there yet. In the Art Appreciation Master Class, we go through all these teaching methods. We talk about how to lead a discussion. We talk about how to analyze the elements and principles of a work of art. We talk about all the different types of activities that you can do with works of art. It’s a 16 lesson course. Each of the videos of that lesson are three to five minutes. It’s a total of about three hours. You can binge it, get the full foundation teaching methods before you do these lessons, then you’ll be ready to go.
Then in your discussion, I’m not going to repeat all of my discussion techniques, but really the goal of your art discussion is to make it really open-ended. You’re not doing a discussion for the purpose of teaching art history or for teaching about the work of art or for teaching about the artist. That’s going to be woven in. That’s going to happen naturally. It’s going to happen where it fits, but your goal really is more about exploration. It’s more about the ideas. It’s more about that process of discovery that happens with the works of art. It’s more about the conversation, the insights, the relationships, the relationship between you and the student, the relationship between you and the artwork, the relationship between the students and the artwork, the relationship between the students and each other, and the artwork. All of that, that’s the magic. The magic is not, “This was painted by Frida Kahlo. She was born in such and such a year and she died in such a year. ” That is interesting information, absolutely. I’m not saying don’t include that but that’s not the magic. That’s not what’s going to stick with them forever. That is a way into connecting with the artwork. There are ways to bring that in authentic ways but know that’s not the goal. The goal is something a little bit more intangible.
You might feel a little bit worried about leading an art discussion and you might feel a little bit fearful if you’ve never really led a discussion. Your first time, it might feel a little weird and a little awkward but just know that it gets easier. It gets better. You’re going to start to realize how powerful it is. Once you’re hooked on that magic, you’re going to understand it. But at first, it might be a little bit challenging but we’re here for that. We have training there to help you through some of those barriers, especially like, what do you do with certain types of kids and that sort of thing. What about your shy kids? What about your kids bouncing off the walls? All the different types of kids. What about the one that wants to raise their hand a hundred times? All of that is in that training in the membership that you can learn from and think about. But really, just give it a shot. Try it. It’ll go better than you think it will go. I promise you that. But the more you do it, the more you’ll realize.
What I love and what really hooks me on this is that I can, all day long with every class, talk about the same work of art. In every class period, I learned something new. Every class period, some kid says something that I never heard before and I’m like, “I’ve been talking about this artwork for years and I’ve never heard anyone have that idea.” That’s so exciting. The energy is really exciting around that. You even notice things that you’ve never noticed before, especially with artworks you’ve seen a lot. You get blinders to them. You just notice them, then you’ve looked at them so many times that you stop really paying attention, then all of a sudden you’re like, “Holy crap, there is a dragon in this artwork that I’ve never seen.” That’s the one that I noticed. It was a Bronzino painting. The painting is An Allegory with Venus and Cupid by Bronzino. When I saw this painting for the first time in London, I had never once noticed that this girl in the background was half human, half dragon. I was like, “How did I never notice that?” It always happens. Sometimes, it’s big things, like someone is a legit dragon but other times, it’s something really small and you’re like, “Oh wow, I’ve never seen it from that perspective.” Because really when you’re looking at works of art, everybody is bringing themselves to it. That is also part of the magic, is that the art changes, depending on who’s looking at it because no one is the same. You’re looking through your own lens and you can only see through your own lens, so this gives you glimpses into other people’s lenses. It’s just so, so fun.
Next, we got our artwork, Curate, we’ve discussed it, Discuss, and now, we’re going to head into Engage. This is where the fun is. This is where you get to be really fun and creative. You don’t have to come up with these activities. We’ve come up with them for you. All of the SPARK Work lessons, there are at least three different activities, sometimes, there’s more that you can take and connect with the works of art. When you pull one of these lessons, we’re not telling you to do everything on this list, we want you to do all of these activities, all of these extensions. That’s not what that’s for. What it’s for is we want you to have the flexibility to choose the right activity for you, so when you look through the engaging activities, you could do all of them, you could make a whole class period of it, you could do two class periods of this, or you can say, “Okay, I’m going to pick this one. I think my students are going to really, really resonate with this one. I’m going to choose that one.” This is built to be really highly flexible because everybody that works for me, and myself included, we don’t like really prescriptive lessons. We like to be able to pick and choose. We like to be able to make it our own. They’re very, very flexible.
In your Engage step, that’s when you’re doing all sorts of creative activities with the works of art. Those activities could come from a lot of places. When you’re looking at a work of art, you can look at the form of it and what kind of activities you could do to really analyze the elements, and principles of art. Maybe you map out the composition lines, maybe you cut it up and you only analyze small bits. Maybe you use our elements of principles, analysis worksheets, and you focus only on texture. You notice all the texture and what is that texture trying to say? There’s a lot of ways in, so that’s the form. You could also look at, of course, the theme and the meaning. You’re looking for the big ideas in it or you’re looking at the story or you’re looking at the cultural relevance or the context. There’s a lot of ways in, or the social issues that are represented or there’s personal connections that you can find.
These activities range from group activities, to whole class activities, to one-on-one activities. There’s poetry writing, there’s kinesthetic connections, there are games. There’s the Twelve Heavenly Generals from China and each one is in these really dramatic poses, and we have a little card game that we developed with those generals. There are a lot of writing exercises and different things, like pretend that the artwork is on Instagram, what the caption would be? Would we call it Artstagram? If the characters had Twitter accounts, what would their tweets be like? Lots of different ways to connect with these works of art that are fun, that are engaging. They’re going to get you to think about it in new ways. Your students are going to have really memorable positive experiences.
Another great thing about these Engage lessons is that they are so good for your administration to see you do. We love when an administrator walks in when we’re doing one of these activities because they can see it. They can see the excitement and the energy in the classroom. They can see the engagement. They can see the students writing, thinking, processing, and theorizing. They can see those critical thinking skills happening in real time. It’s really powerful for the administrators to see that art is not just arts and crafts. We’re not just gluing buttons on and sequins to a paper. We are doing real work. We’re thinking hard. There’s a lot to it. Your administrator also really loves to see those writing samples up on the wall in the hallway. It really is advocacy for your own program and for your professionalism as a teacher. It’s really powerful for your administrators to see this.
Then our last step is Create. In Create, that’s where our art projects happen. I think there is probably a common misconception about Art Class Curator that it’s all about art history and art appreciation, and not about art making, but we do have art making in the membership. That’s where it is in your SPARK Works lesson, it’s in the Create section. In this case, we are learning to connect artworks to projects. Artworks alone work fine. If you decide to do an artwork of the week and every Friday, you look at a work of art, it doesn’t have to be related to your projects but it’s something you introduce every single week. Or you could pick artworks that relate to the projects that you’re doing, and you use The Curated Connections Library to infuse your already created lessons with more art connection experiences or you can take these SPARK Works lessons, do them in full, and pick one of the projects.
Each one usually has a handful, a couple different projects that you can do. Again, it could be related to the theme. It could be related to the elements or principles or the technique or any number of things. It’s never going to be a copycat. We’re never going to say, “Hey, okay, now paint some haystacks. Look at this Monet Haystacks, then now, you’re going to paint some haystacks.” It’s not going to be about that. If we’re looking at Monet, we’re going to talk about the light. We’re going to do something about the light or maybe his style or his technique. We’re not just going to go paint replicas of his paintings.
As I said earlier, flexibility is really important for us and for teachers. This is where your expertise of being an art teacher and being an artist yourself comes in. We know that all our teachers love that process of creating new projects and new ideas. We’ve given you the starting spot for that but they’re not step by step, do this, do this, do this. These are more giving you the basic structure of the lesson, then you guys know how to turn that into a day by day experience. We don’t do a day by day lesson plan because every single teacher has a completely different experience. You have 90-minute classes versus 50-minute classes versus 30-minute classes versus 25-minute classes. I’ve heard that too. You see them twice a week, once a week, five times a week. You see them once a day for six weeks, then not at all. There are so many different versions of schedules. We don’t give you a day by day project but they are projects that are interesting, relevant, connected, and using the artwork as the foundation, then the jumping off point but not a copy of it.
Having said all of that, you can really imagine if you haven’t done a lesson, like these SPARK Works lessons, they have so much power. You can see it. You can feel it. The energy of your classroom changes when you introduce students to works of art. They will connect with them. They will enjoy them. They will have meaningful art education and they will learn to be artists. They will learn to be thinkers. They will learn to be humans. They will learn to feel their feelings, be able to have conversations, and have so many cool memories of your class as a cherry on top.
You might be wondering, “How do I join?” You do that by going to artclasscurator.com/join. We are currently relaunching the membership. It has this brand new design, all these cool features, oh so pretty, it’s so good. I love it. Our current price is the same price that we’ve had for several years. We haven’t raised the price in quite a long time. This week until August the 12th, you’ll be able to be grandfathered into the current price, the price that we’ve had for the last several years. If you stay a member, once you’re locked into your membership, you’re never going to get an increase unless you cancel and rejoin. Now is a great time to join at the beginning of the year when you’re really working on creating the plan for this year. Now is a great time because you’re going to get that grandfathered pricing.
The other thing that we’re doing this year that is brand new is we now have a two-tiered membership. We have two tiers. One of them is the gallery level and the other one is the museum level. You can guess what’s happening there. In your gallery level, that is your low tier option. It is an introductory price of only $19 a month and with that membership, every month, you get the four new SPARK Works lessons. We’re really looking at what’s going on in the world. They’re also a very diverse collection, so we make sure that we have women represented every month. We make sure we have cultures around the world represented. Every month is a highly diverse group of artworks that you receive.
In the gallery level, you get those four artworks. You can go in anytime in the month and pull those out, download them. Then when the new month comes, the last ones go away and the new ones show back up. You’ll just go back in, download your new ones, then they’ll go back away, and they’ll come, and your new ones are going to come back. That’s what you will have access to in your gallery level membership. If you want a really easy solution, you don’t want to be overwhelmed by all the options, you don’t need all the filtering, you’re like, “I just want to show the art to my students. I don’t want to think too hard about what I’m bringing in.” You can just take these and these are the ones you do that month. It makes it really easy and it’s a really low cost option for you as well.
Now, if you want everything, including all of the trainings, all of the art history lessons that I talked about that were from the past, and all 175 plus SPARK Works lessons, including all that amazing filtering options, including the places to put your student work, your notes, the bookmarking, and all of that stuff, that’s where you want the museum level membership because you get everything. It doesn’t go away. Month after month, just new ones are added and you still have access to the whole catalog. That again has been $39 a month for the past two years. Starting after August 12th, the price will go up. If it were completely up to me, I would love for your school district to pay for your membership. Ideal situation, that’s what we want to happen. You can go to artclasscurator.com/schools, there’s a form to fill out and you can get an estimate, you can get a brochure, and a letter to your administrator about the curriculum. We have all of that stuff for you at artclasscurator.com/schools. But if you do have to pay out of pocket for this, I want you to think about breaking down the cost of this and thinking about how much you get paid, and how much time this is going to save you. I know I said, to me, this time saving element of this is important and teachers need it everywhere. They need to save time wherever they can because teaching just takes over your life. But if you think about it, if you’re getting four new lessons per month, you have saved yourself a bunch of planning time.
The average teacher salary in the United States is $59,346. Teachers work 187 days of the year, so that comes to about $317 a day that you make. You divide that $317 by eight hours, so you’re making about $39 an hour. I did not plan that, I swear. That was the exact cost of the membership. I have to tell you that was really lucky. The average teacher makes $39 an hour. That is one hour of your salary that you’re getting back. That’s one hour per month that you’re using for your membership and that’s going to save you way more than one hour because you have saved yourself less in planning. At least one day of every week, you’ve got planned. Then if you use the art projects and the extensions, and you use those lessons to the fullest, you’ve got most of your class covered through that one hour payment. The coffee comparison is so overused but I think about myself as I’ll spend $39 on Uber Eats once a week and that lasts 30 minutes while I eat it. I guess the energy I get after I eat it for a couple hours, I get that too. But $39 to spend on so many resources that you can use immediately in your classroom, it’s ready to go. Especially if you do the gallery plan, that costs about half an hour of your pay per month to get those resources for yourself.
But like I said, it’s not just about the time. Think about this as giving yourself a gift. This is a gift to yourself. It is self-care. We talked about in a few episodes back, the blood, sweat, and tears mentality, about how you have to work hard and you have to struggle, and how that is impacting your self-care. This is a preventative self-care measure by giving yourself these lessons to help your classroom. It’s giving yourself a gift of less stress, more time, less time spent overthinking, more clarity, better relationships with your students, focus on student relationships, not only because the lessons themselves are so connected but you’re freeing up more time to spend connecting with your students. You’re giving yourself more time for yourself, more time for your own art making. This feeds your creative side. It connects you. All of those works of art are great for your students but you also get to learn about them. I’ve had retired teachers say, “I kept my membership because I just really enjoyed learning about these works of art every month.” You’re giving yourself that gift of art connection. You’re giving that gift to your students. It’s a powerful, magical place to be.
The wonderful feeling that you feel after you’ve taught a really powerful lesson, after you know you’ve made a difference in your students, you feel it. That just gives me chills just to think about because it’s such a powerful thing. It’s that magic of art connection that you’re spreading into the world with these SPARK Works lessons. It’s really powerful for you, really powerful for your students, really powerful for your administration to see what’s happening, and it’s really powerful for the world. These artworks are going to ripple. These art experiences are going to ripple. They’re going to have unseen effects years in the future. You don’t know what’s going to happen but you know in your heart that they will because they’re that meaningful and that powerful.
I know I’m speaking very dramatically but I, 100%, believe it to be true. “Art changes people and people change the world,” my favorite quote by John Butler because it’s true. We can change the world one student at a time, one artwork at a time, one lesson at a time. You know that to be true as a teacher but that’s what we’re here to do at Art Class Curator. We’re not here to save you time. We’re not here to make your job easier—though we do that—we’re here to change the world, we’re here to make magic, and we’re here to connect deeply with ourselves, deeply with our students, and deeply with works of art.
Thank you so much for listening. Like I said, the membership price will be going up after August 12th but the membership is staying open. It’s not closing. You can join anytime you want at artclasscurator.com/join. Thank you so much for listening. I will see you again next week. Bye.
When you’re a teacher, one thing is certain, the lesson planning never ends. The Curated Connections Library is here to help with hundreds of art connection lessons and activities. Our signature SPARK Works lessons include everything you need to teach an artwork every single week. Each lesson features one diverse and captivating work of art and is complete with discussion questions, engaging activities to create deeper art connections, and related art project ideas. With unique worksheets and PowerPoint presentations, every lesson is classroom-ready. Get your free SPARK Works lesson and take a break from lesson planning by going to artclasscurator.com/freelesson.
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