Teacher Feature: Mara Christine
Name: Mara Christine
School(s): Indian Run Elementary, Dublin City Schools
Grade Levels: 1st - 5th. I see 6 classes per day on a 4 day rotation. My students come from all over the world - we have something like 27 home languages other than English - and we have quite a few students that enroll throughout the year, as well as withdraw. I just have an experienced TAB student give the new student a tour, check in on them a few times, and they are off and running usually!
Where do you fall on the choice spectrum? I am full TAB!
How many years have you been teaching TAB/Choice?
This is my 3rd year of full TAB, and my 10th year here at IRE.
I realized that I was teaching art projects, and not creativity. It took me about 5 years from the time I started questioning my teaching approach to switch to TAB - and I think that’s okay! In the meantime, I thought and read and talked to other teachers. It’s a big shift to make, and a little scary! Would my administration support it? (Yes. They are awesome.) Would parents object to the lack of ‘art product’? (I haven’t heard any major complaints. But I also took the step of inviting the PTO Board in for a demo/mini-lesson of TAB!) Would students respond? (YES!) TAB reinvigorated my teaching practice and made it so much more joyful. There are still plenty of challenges - the biggest being getting students to STOP working when it’s time to clean up. There are so many more things I want to do: new challenges and improvements to make every day/week/month/year. I love it.
Do you have your own room, share a room, or travel?
I feel really lucky to have my own fabulous room with lots of storage and 3 sinks! There’s never really enough room for any art teacher though, so I spend a decent amount of time reorganizing and rethinking cabinets every year..
What advice would you give someone transitioning to TAB/Choice?
LABEL EVERYTHING!! I’m pretty obsessive about color-coding, so each of my centers has a color, and every label with that center has that color border. I’d like to go back and start adding more pictures to my labels now - the studio is a constant work in progress.
The other important thing is to be kind to yourself. I have a tendency to just see all the things I’m NOT doing as well as I want to, and not necessarily the things that are working smoothly. It takes time to transition the studio, the students, and yourself to a new way of working and thinking!
OAEA TAB/Choice Chair