The Artistry of Teaching: And a few thoughts from the Blue Man Group

Most days I feel like a blue man making music out of some pipes and sticks! Great teachers make beautiful music without the resources. Trail blazers use a medium that others do not use… I mean how many rock bands are there?

But these guys put on blue heads and use pipes and make music.

I think we need to look at things a little differently sometimes. See your uniqueness and lack of resources as an opportunity, not a curse.

Can you make music with a cell phone? An ipod? A piece of paper? Your voice? An old computer that someone wants to throw away?

Often artistry is most recognizable when the medium is most lacking!

Anyone can teach a bright student. Anyone can have a great technology program with an unlimited budget.

The creative minds go past what they HAVE and see what they CAN BE.

Think possibilities not limitations! The mindset is all of the difference in the world!

(And take time to laugh for goodness sakes!)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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ozymandias1 January 30, 2008 - 6:40 pm

What a wonderful posting. But from a more selfish point of view what a wonderful introduction to teaching sound!

Ross Isenegger January 30, 2008 - 11:57 pm

“Anyone can teach a bright student. Anyone can have a great technology program with an unlimited budget.”

A little too easily said, I think. Most bright students can teach themselves enough to do well in school, but will do much better with sympathetic, demanding and inspirational teachers.

I think that there must be a ton of well equipped classrooms with a technology “program” that leaves a metric tonne to be desired.

BTW, Congratulations on your inclusion on the list of notable edubloggers at Wikipedia!

W Brown January 31, 2008 - 10:46 am

My only concern is when doing without the resources because the expectation. Like every teacher movie, we don’t have to be heroes, we don’t have to make”music” out of nothing, we shouldn’t have to let our low paying job consume us.

I do let all those things happen but it would be nice if the public didn’t expect it.

Melnoack January 31, 2008 - 11:36 pm

Hi Vicki,
I am interested in networking with other Art teachers around the country (or world). I teach many photography courses and a graphic design class this semester. I don’t know where to begin to get connected with other high school photo/graphic design teachers and their students. Can you help me? By the way, we met at the ACTEM conference; I teach at Yarmouth High School with Alice Barr. This is a link to my wiki: which links to student blogs and a gallery of student artwork. This is a link to my personal learning blog: Please help me get connected!

Lan January 31, 2008 - 11:40 pm

I was absorbed so much by the amazing video. Teachers should never blame students for not being bright enough. To know how to teach in a bright way is the responsibility of teachers.

“Think possibilities not limitations!” Your class will never make students feel boring.

Thank you for the inspiring post!

Vicki A. Davis February 1, 2008 - 1:42 pm

@Ozmandias – The whole blue man group concept is amazing! Yes, they have many great things do with sound!

@ross – Absolutely, a teacher is like a magnifying glass magnifying the sun — we take a bright kid and focus it into a fire! Good teachers always make it better. However, the “bad” teacher has a harder time “showing up” with bright kids, I think sometimes because bright kids often teach themselves. Generalizations are always tough to make, and this of course is a generalization. It is really more a call to teachers who make excuses … we should always look to ourselves to make our classrooms better and not the student’s minds. We must change what we can… ourselves!

@ross – And thanks for the wikipedia note, I wasn’t aware of “making it” there — and even more so, being left in there! ;-)

@w_brown – My pay does not determine my effort! I put forth the same effort with my measly salary that is 1/6th of the 6 figure one I made as a general manager. It is about pride and doing one’s best no matter what one’s calling. But, yes, we must be given SOMETHING to work with. I always appreciate when I have a donor here or there who help me with a dream. And I stretch their money to make even more — recently I just bought $5K worth of video equipment for $1,800 — I had to have SOME seed money to make it work, but I paired it with some really smart friends (Ken Pruitt mostly) and this blog and it made it work for me. We should always take what we’re given and multiply it exponentially by our own efforts.)

@Melnoack – We’ll see if we can find out where a good place to network with art teachers is!

Denise P. February 1, 2008 - 5:10 pm

Great Post, but don’t you find yourself surrounded sometimes by those teachers who have the “THEY” aren’t supporting me in this mentality as an excuse for not doing what is best for their students. Very frustrating. On another note, I have found a way to get multiple computers in my class by doing book orders. Here’s the secret. Only do them in September and January – (tons of bonus points these months) and do them for multiple classes. I send out emails asking teachers if they will let me do them these months and have 8 regular customers. I them maximize the orders by submitting them in batches. This month every 200 is 5000 points. I submit them in batches of $200 and it really adds up. I have gotten 1 computer a year for the last 6 years.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere