Potter teacher posts online art videos to connect with students

Apr 6, 2020

Potter School art teacher Beth Neto wanted to stay connected to her students — but she didn’t realize how important it was to them as well until a chance encounter made her determined to make it happen.

Neto was out for a walk in her neighborhood in late March when she came across one of her students. From a safe distance, the second-grader told her how sad she was to not have art class that day.

Neto has since begun a series of video lessons she shares with the school’s PTO group on Facebook. 

“For some kids, art is what they look forward to,” she said. “It’s what gets them to school.”

Videos typically begin with a short story and are followed by an art lesson related to the reading. 

Parents are encouraged to post their child’s artwork, as it allows Neto to quickly share feedback through comments.

“It’s lots of fun to see,” Neto said.

For Neto’s first online lesson, she read “Together” by Emma Dodd, a story about a young otter who loves spending time with his mother. Seeing as the story was about an aquatic mammal, Neto made this a lesson on watercolor painting she called “Potter’s otters.”

In other videos, Neto read Gene Zion’s “Harry the Dirty Dog” to teach about positive and negative space and Karen Beaumont’s “I Like Myself!” for self portraits. 

“What you’re seeing in her videos is exactly how she is with students,” said school principal Heidi Brooks. “She’s done so much.”

Brooks adds that she especially likes how quickly Neto has adapted to teaching through video, as it helps to bring immediate engagement in a time where students cannot be at school.

This instant connectivity is also something mother of two first-graders Stephanie Ghannam appreciates.

“Just seeing that face and making that connection is important for them,” Ghannam said. “It makes them feel like they’re still at school.”

She also enjoys how the videos give her twins things to do while she works from home, along with providing some structure since they can see what their fellow classmates made.

Angela Botelho, whose daughter is in second grade, is just happy that her child can continue to take her favorite class during “this new normal.”

So far, Neto has shared six videos in addition to the nine weekly lessons she posts on Google Classroom.

“I’m doing what I love, just in a different way,” Neto said.