ETHS endorses creativity as COVID-19 continues

Madison McGuire and Jojo Wertheimer

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we teach, learn, and look at our school systems. Schools around the country have had to make difficult decisions about closing and reopening safely, and reinvent the way students learn. Part of this reinventing process is a new approach to art classes. The hands-on nature of art classes makes it difficult to imagine a learning environment where students can’t do hands-on work. ETHS has thought through this hurdle though and has developed a plan to be able to bring art to the safety of your own home.

“We’re keeping our focus on hands-on learning. Whatever you would have done in the studio, you’re doing the same thing at home. We’re creating art kits for all the students so if you’re taking an art class your art kit will be in your materials that you pick up as well,” Martha Seibold, ETHS Art teacher, explains. 

Last year, the abrupt closing of ETHS left art teachers scrambling to leave their students with materials and create lessons that were inclusive to every home environment. Junior Claire Geibel was in Ceramics 1 when the school closed. She was sent home with a pound of clay and was supplied with instructional videos for different projects. However, for a class like ceramics, access to a studio and tools is important. Teachers were forced to think creatively about lesson plans and tools that would be accessible to students. 

“We didn’t have any of the ceramics tools from the classroom so she had us use forks, knives, plastic bags, water, and other kitchen tools that mimicked some of the tools from the class studio,” Geibel said. “No one knows what everyone’s home situation is, and who has tools they can use for the different projects.” 

This year, with more preparation, Seibold and the other ETHS art teachers have developed kits this year for every student depending on the art course that they are participating in. From a handful of clay for the ceramics classes to sketchbooks and paints for the drawing and painting courses, every student should have what they need to successfully complete and participate in projects at home.

 “Even photography, the upper levels, are all getting cameras. For graphics classes they will be using Chromebook graphic applications,” added Seibold.

The digital format of art classes, especially AP ones, will be primarily to be able to communicate and look at each other’s work, while a majority of the actual work will be done by yourself. Going digital does not seem to have proved to put any major obstacles in the way of the art department. 

“What I’m trying to do is minimize the computer stuff and maximize the art-making stuff. If there are materials you need that I have at work in storage, I can go and get it. It worked well last semester,” said Seibold.

The art department is in full swing, with hours of prep under their belts, they are ready to bring classes back to as effective and well-planned as possible. Teachers will work with the students and students will adjust the way they have learned before to provide for an ultimately successful year of art education.

“I actually really enjoyed making ceramics at home because it was something that I could do; write, draw, create, and in school, you’re writing and typing on your computer,” Geibel says. “It’s all on your computer, doing busy work, and having ceramics is kind of a getaway from the hectic school work that we were thrown with. It was an awesome escape I think, and I think a lot of students believe that too.”

With students like Geibel eager to learn and be able to step away from completely digital education, art is going to be a great twist to the e-learning curriculum.

“Everybody is working really hard to make this a really good experience for everybody. The teachers have really been supporting each other with the end goal of making it a good experience for the kids,” said Seibold about the online format of the year.

With the teachers working hard and the students ready to adapt their way of previously learning art, it is to be another great year for the art department at ETHS.