art vistas unlimited
 volunteers bringing art to students for 20 years
union school district - san jose and los gatos, ca
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  docent responsibilities for elementary school

Welcome to Art Vistas Unlimited. You are joining a select group of parent volunteers (docents) who go into the classrooms six times during the course of the year and show the children a series of fine art prints. The docent speaks about the prints and their artists, and encourages the kids to ask questions and give their opinions. Then, the docent hands out materials, and leads the kids through a project that gives them a chance to have fun with some of the new building blocks of art they have learned. From start to finish, the docent is in the classroom about one and a half hours (most of which is spent supervising the kids doing the art project).

The Art Vistas program provides the print portfolios, the lesson plans, and all the training and background information necessary. Please note that each school has its own supplies for the hands-on lessons and that there can be some variation in the way certain projects are handled at different sites. Check with your school's head docent to learn about the available materials, where they are located, and how much preparation you should expect to be done for you.

general duties of an art docent
  1. New docents attend general training in the fall to learn the basic art terms and background knowledge to take the grade level training.

  2. All docents attend grade level training in the fall and winter to receive instruction on the actual lessons you will teach the children. You will view the prints and get tips for the hands-on lesson. You are required to attend training to present the art lesson in your child's classroom.

  3. After training, you will be notified if there is more than one docent in your class so you can get together with any partners to discuss preferences you might have for scheduling, or presenting versus hands-on. Introduce yourselves to the teacher and let them know you are their docents for the year. Review with the teacher the weeks of the presentations and the days of the week you are available to teach so you can set a date and time that works for all of you. It is vital that you inform the head docent of this date and time, usually by marking it on a calendar, because you share portfolios and project materials with the other classes in your grade level. (The portfolios of prints are at your school only for a designated amount of time, and they are shared with two other elementary schools.)

  4. Contact the teacher one or two weeks before each presentation and confirm the presentation date. If you are the only docent in the class, try to recruit another parent or two to help with the hands-on project. You can post signs outside the classroom door or ask the teacher to help get the word out - often parents like to help if they don't have to teach the lesson.

  5. A day or two before your presentation review your training material and prints; often you can make prior arrangements with your head docent to take the portfolio home for review. (FYI - The lesson plan book in the portfolio and this website have additional information about the artists.) Make sure you prepare any materials that are required, e.g. cut your paper to size to allow for easy art show mounting, and that you practice the project. The head docent will supply materials but don't expect them to do all of the prep work.

  6. Return the portfolio and supplies promptly to the storage area.

  7. If you discover anything missing from the portfolio please notify your head docent right away so the missing item can be found before the portfolio leaves your school.

  8. Collect the children's art after each presentation and save it for the art show. If a teacher would like to display the children's work in the classroom that is fine - just make sure they understand not to send it home.

  9. Mount a minimum of two pieces of art for each child in your class for the art show in the spring. Make sure you print the child's name and other information on the museum cards since many children younger than fourth grade can't read cursive.

  10. Help with the set up/tear down of the art show and then return all artwork to the students.

  11. Enjoy your year! The children will love you and truly enjoy the art.

If you are interested in becoming an Art Vistas docent, please send us an e-mail with your name, your child's name, phone number, e-mail, school and teacher's name. The head docent for your school will contact you.