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For most teachers the bulletin board is big, blank, and time consuming. But for the art teacher it is the best way to display the students' new creative masterpieces--or is it?

As the new school year approaches, every teacher begins revamping lesson plans or developing new ones. For me, there is nothing more exciting than to watch my students grasp a new concept and develop it into a work of art.

When I first started teaching I was eager to display my students' artwork on the nearby hallway bulletin board. Precariously balancing on a stepladder, wrestling with huge sheets of background paper, I enthusiastically prepared the bulletin board for the works to be displayed. Border up, artwork lined up in a row and stapled down, I stood back to observe my work. A simple layout, but I told myself that simplicity helped to accentuate the artwork; the artwork would speak for itself, knowing that anyone who passed by would be as impressed with the artwork as I.

Eager to hear the comments about the bulletin board display, I stood in the hallway during the changing of classes. Teachers, visitors, administrators, support staff, and students all walked by the bulletin board--not one noticed! They passed by, as if they had blinders on, focused on getting to their next destination and oblivious to their surroundings. Regardless of age, those who passed by "looked but did not see." I looked at the board and knew it was not the artwork at fault; therefore, it had to be the presentation.

If I wanted to draw their attention to the artwork it had to be more than background paper and contrasting border. I brainstormed, and it quickly came to me that I had to create an environment appropriate for each display.

Now the bulletin board is no longer just a place to display art; it is also an extension of the artwork and a way for me to express my creativity. Themes are developed from the students' artwork--oftentimes fanciful, frequently informational, but always a way to draw the individual talents of each student together into a unified whole.

When developing lesson plans, I not only think of the final product of students, but the final product I will create to enhance students' works. Now, when I begin preparing a bulletin board, students come up to me and ask what is going to go up this time and I simply say, "Wait and see," with a twinkle in my eye. Visitors often stop by my room and compliment me on my bulletin boards and the artwork displayed. When I venture down the ball, I often see staff members standing in front of the bulletin board looking at the artwork, and students on their way to lunch stop and discuss what they see. Best of all, I see the pride shining on my art students' faces as they see their work displayed.

Isn't that what art is all about? The visual, non-verbal communication that attracts, educates, and inspires? The bulletin board is still big and still time consuming, but it is also a work in progress of upcoming works of art.

Jeanne Norris is an art teacher at Hancock Middle-Senior High School in Hancock, Maryland.


Students describe and compare a variety of individual response to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures.
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Title Annotation:the art of the bulletin board
Author:Norris, Jeanne
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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