In the book Educated, Tara Westover recounts growing up in an isolated compound in Idaho with her family. She did not receive a formal education and most of her 'homeschooling' involved conspiracy theories and home-spun faith-based nonsense. She did not even sit in a classroom until she attended college which almost all of her family discouraged her from doing before and after. She is now Dr. Westover.
Teachers, if you're worried about whether or not your students are going to meet some artificial construct like "annual yearly progress" - stop it. They will not. And that is absolutely fine.
Art can still do a lot of good and can make a real difference in their lives. At the end of the day, that's the point, right? Art is important. Of course it is. But not because of standards or objectives or AYP.
I suggest adopting an 'art for life' curriculum by finding ways to make art a part of everyone's lives. To me, that means focusing on connection instead of content. Emphasize community and cooperation over craft. Grace instead of grades. As I keep coaching folks, it's time for Maslow's before Bloom's.
Tara Westover's story resonates with me because I also grew up in a situation where I came to realize I was living in an isolated and unhealthy environment also. When I was a kid, I lost nearly a year and a half of school altogether in 3 years. I spent some of my fifth and sixth grade years, the worst years of my life, living in a car with my mother who suffered from schizophrenia - not that I or anyone else knew that. I won't go into detail here - that's for my own memoir. I was kept home from school so much of my fifth grade year that I was held back and had to repeat it. It was humiliating. I barely made it to school enough the second time to be allowed to move onto the sixth grade - maybe half (so 90 days). I think they let me pass out of pity. No one at school knew what was going on at home - though some knew something was wrong. It took me years to get out and on my own. Maybe I'll be a doctor someday.
I'm not going to give you any of that 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' stuff. I don't believe that. A lot of what doesn't kill you can can nevertheless maim you. Sometimes for years; sometimes for the rest of your life.
But art can help someone get through tough stuff. I know it helped me. And I didn't have an art class or art teacher to help me. Just my imagination and paper and pencils and colored pencils. And a desire to have something that was mine, that I could control and get better at. A place on paper and in my head I could escape to. Some place I could process all that stuff I couldn't put into words; wouldn't dare talk about. Things that I could only put on a page.
Your students want that too. That's what you can do this year. That's what art can do.
Not everything will be okay. But some things will. Art can help.
I'll mostly be blogging about my experiences teaching. I teach a class online right now called Teaching K12 Art Online where I'll be exploring art online with art teachers. I also currently teach a (formerly?) face-to-face course called Visual Culture: Investigating Diversity & Social Justice which is an art, critical writing, and research course for undergrads. Before this, I taught a class called Art Curriculum & Concepts for Teachers where I was experimenting with cooperative & creative teaching integrating art and "going gradeless" with preservice early childhood education majors.