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Memorable Moments

Trying something new always brings about an element of excitement. This week, I tried something new, and it was awesome. Was it easy? Nope. Did I do my best work? Nope. Did I feel comfortable? Nope. Did students have to help me? Yep. Did they look at me like I was crazy? Yep. Did I have fun? Absolutely. I learned something new and had a memorable experience. As teachers, this is what we should strive to do in our classrooms for our students: Create memorable experiences. This is when the best learning happens.

It was just a normal Tuesday morning until we received an email from one of our fantastic art teachers, Ms. Carol Kinast, inviting staff into her Ceramics class. Her students were on an in-school field trip and had the opportunity to complete a raku and horse hair firing with Fox Valley Hall of Fame Artist, Joe Hernandez. Here are two videos that Ms. Kinast shared with staff showing the process of a raku and horse hair firing:

Last semester, I observed a few ceramics classes and really loved what I witnessed: Engaged students who took pride in their work and the process completed in order to create and produce a final product. The calming effect of the room is wonderful and makes people want to stay for the rest of the day. On Tuesday, the mood was no different, and I ended up staying for quite some time to observe students in their element - creating beautiful pieces of art - and witness this unique type of art: raku and horse hair firing. 

I have three takeaways that I am excited to share: 

1. Our students are passionate and talented
I had the opportunity to walk around the room and look at numerous pieces created by our students. I also watched them as they created new art through pottery wheel throwing. Their creativity and explanations about their work are very impressive. Their pride was evident as I asked several students about the throwing process and their learning process. One student, Eric, was extremely helpful during my visit. He explained numerous elements of the throwing process and how he learned to do this form of art. The best part....Eric ENCOURAGED me to throw and make something on the wheel.

2. It is never too late to try something new
Yes, I wasn't joking when I said that Eric encouraged me to become a student and throw. At first, I laughed it off as I am not artistic and have NO IDEA how to use the pottery wheel. After some motivation, I decided to give it a try......and I loved everything about it. Let's be honest...I didn't create anything beautiful, but man oh man, it felt good to be out of my comfort zone and trying something that I've always thought was impossible to do. Similarly, Mr. Brian Hurst, one of our Reading Specialists, was also visiting the classroom. His eyes gleamed with excitement as he learned about raku and horse hair firing and also had the chance to do the process on one of his own pieces of pottery. He explained to me that he recently became interested in ceramics and has learned so much through this new hobby. See - it is never too late "be the student" and learn something new. 

3. Students can teach the teacher
Eric took me through the whole process of throwing...starting with getting the clay and ending with cleaning up our stations. He was patient, kind, and informative. He modeled the process but also gave me opportunities to try it. He answered my questions and gave feedback as I worked at the wheel. He acted as the teacher that I try to be for my students on a daily basis. Isn't that cool? I was very impressed and thankful for Eric's support during this memorable experience. 
The bottom line....Memorable experiences leave the most lasting impact on the learner. Every student I talked to during my visit raved about this class and what they have learned throughout the year. I walked out of that class with a huge smile on my face and couldn't wait to tell my students, friends, and family about my learning process and experience that day. (And don't worry...I did share it...along with numerous pictures and videos) As students watched and helped Mr. Joe Hernandez with raku and horse hair firing, they were engaged, excited, and most importantly, eager to learn. Higher level skills were tested and developed through the creation of beautiful artwork. And our students will always remember what they learned, how they improved, and the best part...they have personal, unique artifacts of their learning that they can keep forever. 

Click here to see a photo album of this awesome experience. The pictures speak for themselves. Thank you to Ms. Kinast for inviting staff in for this wonderful event. Your passion and energy inspire your students, and it is obvious why students LOVE being in your class. #whastup 


  1. Thank you for your enthusiasm. The students love that you are so passionate, and supportive about them, and their interests. You're the best!


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