Nail Club

About two months ago, I was at my local CVS buying myself my millionth new color of nail polish and I suddenly realized what I wanted my next after school club to be. Since we are an accelerated school I have a constantly changing roster. Our students move through our school very quickly. So, even though dance club had been such a hit last fall my new group of students showed very little interest in it. Also, I was ready for something new, and so based on my love of all things nail art and nail related, the nail club was born. I let students do my designs and I also try my hand at nail art on theirs as well!

I am really excited about after school programs at our school. One time a student told me that he has nothing really going on at home and he would much rather stay and hang out with us (his teachers) than go home and watch TV, or hang out in his neighborhood, or maybe even get into trouble. That gave my after school clubs so much purpose. I had always taken my high school after-school programs for granted when I was younger, but now I can’t imagine growing up without them. It was an after school painting class that lead me to art school, after all. So when I realized that I could successfully draw in students and spread school spirit I fell in love with the idea of creating after-school enrichment programs. I currently have two: Canvas Club on Tuesdays and Nail Club on Fridays.

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Group Work

I always included some group work in my curriculum, so that my students are challenged to come together and work with others. This type of exercise teaches students to compromise, listen, speak out, follow directions, lead, and generally get along with others. I find that group work is key in assisting with my students social growth. In high school, learning proper social skills can be just as formative and important as it is in elementary school. Some of my students at my current school struggle to get along, or communicate with each other. (You might notice a few in the pictures below) However, not participating was not an option for my students. When or if a student pulled away from their group out of frustration they were quickly guided back. I do not take the safe and calm environment at our school for granted. Most of my students previous high school experiences included violence, fighting, and bullying. Our school tries very hard, and succeeds a majority of the time, to create a safe environment so that our students can experience more positive peer interaction, and maybe even have fun.

This being said, I have found that competition can be one of the best ways to engage my high schooler in their group work activities. Here are some images of our “Name Your States” competition. I designed a curriculum for a semester on artists from around the United States. We learned 3 new states and their capitals each day, slowly filling in a map of the US as we went. It was a fun way to bring some geography into the classroom and just as I had suspected the kids got really into the competition on the last day of the unit.

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