Well Brandy - I had a couple of years experience with entering student art into local/national art contests. I could literally share a booklet about the various experiences - some pros - but also cons, and I do not do them anymore because of the time and demands it put on me as the teacher. Even with help- it is a lot of extra HARD WORK - which is okay for the short run - but as many of us teachers know (or learn the hard way) successful longevity is achieved with healthy boundaries and with margins in the schedule. And we can just only do "so" much.....
Things to consider:
1. Students can be elated just to be in such a contest. I recall many students talking about having their stuff hanging at the museum - or being listed in the show. Families were talking - and it can add some nice energy and freshness to the entire art department. A lot of buzz.
2. Can be enriching to have the art pieces in the show you are entering. We entered a national contest where our school's pieces complemented and added to the other submissions - and in one contest - our school was half the show. And so it doubled the experience that visitors had as they soaked up pieces - not that more meant better - but the variety has sometimes I know been a plus.
3. It is a lot of fun when students take the top prizes or even place! And it may change their lives forever. One of my student's (Jonathan B.) took first place in the Mariner's Museum's Battle of Hampton Roads contest - and he later received a letter from a VA Senator!! I had a kindergarten class (Ms. Foshay's class) get honorable mention and so an entire class shared this great honor!
4. It can be a sensitive area for many reasons regarding "comparative analysis."
I had an art student that won in three shows in a row. And one local show actually used her outdoor sketch on their brochure cover and got a check for 50$- But I noticed that when she did not win in future shows - well it was a lot to process and work through for a 4th grader - it became a good learning lesson for her (about subjectivity of the judges and assessing how she defines the success of her pieces).
5. If you do select shows - watch the timing. this may seem obvious, but shows near the end of the year conflict with so much - and considering the extra work it requires (even if delegating it is a lot to juggle) well you want to pick shows that will maybe come at a time where you can juggle more (which is when?? - ha ha)
Anyhow, I will possibly still do national and local shows again one day. But it would have to be the right show. I have though entering maybe one class - or all of one grade, but for now - it is just easier to have our school show and celebrate that.
When I stopped entering our school into yearly shows, I made fliers with contest data to give to parents so that they could enter if they wanted to - and even suggested a piece to a couple of parents - but whew, nice to not do them right now.
> I'm going to try to work in some more contest into my syllabus. If anyone has some favorite national contest they enter, please share them. Has anyone done this with their projects before? What's your take on it/experience with it? I know from experience with just one or two contests in the past, my kids hate sending in their original art. I never pressure anyone, and they don't seem to let go of their art easily. Do you guys ever address this in your contest process?