Using Art to Teach the Habitudes

Wendy Bellagamba and Rachel Sepe, 4th grade teachers at Hough Street School in Barrington, IL, are “Teachers with Habitudes.” They have a passion for helping students become involved citizens who fully develop their genius. This guest post by Wendy and Rachel describe how the mural posted above came to be on her classroom wall.

The inspiration for the mural came from Angela Maiers’ book, Classroom Habitudes.  As we were studying the book at a staff meeting last spring, we brainstormed ideas to use “We Matter” in our room and with our students.

Rachel suggested a mural. Wendy knew her daughter, Christine, would jump in to help this summer, using her art background.  We wanted the mural to illustrate that we all matter to each other in our classroom and school community.

Christine found the design, and it was her idea to show diversity with the hands. We knew we wanted to list the Habitudes in the mural, and, when our class birthday wristbands arrived in the mail, we thought wristbands with the words would work!

Christine created a stencil for the title, and we decided to keep it smaller so that photos of the students, or creations made by the students demonstrating the Habitudes could be added to the mural throughout the school year.

It was so much fun to create this with Christine, and as Angela says in her book, “spread the message of the habitudes’ powers in our classroom.” It is also “an important reminder that we do nothing alone.”

When Wendy was a student at Drake University, she read Inviting School Success by William Purkey.  Purkey’s book has always stuck with her and helped her form her philosophy of education. It reminds us of Classroom Habitudes because it was written to be helpful to those who wish to improve the education of all students and, at the same time, approaches it from a humanistic viewpoint.  Both books invite students, and teachers, to see themselves as able, valuable and self-directing.

We’re looking forward to teaching your lessons in the months and years ahead!

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