Brian Reed’s Demo at School for Little Children

April 12, 2019 By dflorian

“Brian has been volunteering here for a long time now. He’s an enthusiastic, joyful, and great participant that we’ve had in our classroom. His joy is really contagious.” -Debby Weidmann, Pre-K teacher at SLC

North Shore artist, Brian Reed, began volunteering at School for Little Children (SLC) in 2010. SLC, located in Evanston, provides early education to children ages two to four.

Brian volunteers at SLC every Thursday. He splits his time between two classrooms, the Orange and Blue rooms. Everyone at SLC knows that Brian is an artist who loves to work with kids. And with his involvement and growing interest in the Educator Track at Arts of Life, it seemed only fitting that he should start leading art demos for SLC students.

Brian began preparing for his first art demonstration last month. He selected a short process-based art project involving watercolors and coffee filters. Brian tailored his lesson to fit the 4-year-olds he would be working with and started practicing.

He worked on transitioning smoothly from step to step until he felt comfortable with the flow of the lesson. After two weeks of practice, Brian did a mock demo at the North Shore studio to receive feedback from peers and made final improvements: use larger brushes, less water, and provide more opportunities for group engagement. Brian was ready to go.

I arrived to SLC earlier this week to help Brian lay out materials for his demo. As I entered the Orange room, I was immediately greeted by his wide smile. He seemed in his element as he laughed and engaged with two kids who were racing toy cars.

Brian and I laid out his materials, and when the room was ready, Brian began his demonstration. He could hardly control his laughter before starting, and smiled while describing the materials the students would be using.  He crumpled a coffee filter up into a ball to start and asked the kids which watercolor they’d like him to use before painting it. The kids excitedly shouted out their favorites hoping that he’d choose theirs.  And he reminded the room to be gentle when he opened the wet coffee filter to show them how much negative space he had covered.  He repeated this process three times before finishing, and then students took turns making their own coffee filter watercolor pieces. Every coffee filter was used up by the end of the workshop.

Brian and I sat down to talk more about his experience at SLC and his interest in teaching:

Diane Florian (DF): When did you start volunteering at School for Little Children?

Brian Reed (BR): In 2010

DF: Oh wow, that’s a long time. How did you get involved?

BR: My tutor [at Center for Independent Futures], Megan, told me about it.

DF: What do you usually do when you volunteer here?

BR: I play with the kids. I go to the park with them. Sometimes I read to them.

DF:  What is your favorite thing about volunteering at SLC?

BR: Being with the kids. I love kids. They’re nice.

DF: You’re on the Educator track at Arts of Life. This means that you have an interest in learning and sharing new art making skills and like working in group settings. What made you want to join this track?

BR: Megan [arts coordinator at Arts of Life] suggested that I join because I like teaching.

DF: Professionally, what would you like to do in the future?

BR: I’d like to teach adults at a school or at Arts of Life.

DF: That’s great. So how do you think the art demo went today?

BR: I loved it. The watercolors and the coffee filters.

DF: What do you feel when you’re teaching?

BR: Happy. Teaching is fun.

DF: Why is teaching fun?

BR: Teaching is fun because people can learn new things.  

DF: I really enjoyed your demo today, Brian. Thanks for your time.

BR: Thanks!

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