Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Most Bitter Pill

This post is not about art, or even (really) about teaching.  If that's what you came here looking for today, I'm sorry, and I promise I'll get right back to what this blog is supposed to be about on the next post.  
Today I'm writing about something that so very hard.  If you're a teacher, and you love working with kids every single day, seeing them mistreated is rough.  Seeing their needs not being met (any of them--physical, emotional, educational) is hard.  But all of that while you yourself are struggling with infertility or infant loss is like a real kick in the face.  Even though I have two adorable and wonderful little people at my house, I still miss and mourn those that aren't here.  I hate that visiting the cemetery is part of my kids 'normal'.  And by golly I hate seeing parents take their own kids for granted.  I can logically understand that I'm only seeing a tiny little snapshot of their lives, but don't they know how lucky they are?  When they've got the number of kids I feel I'm 'supposed to' have, why aren't they thrilled?  Why do they have to yell and scream? Why do kids come to school with dirty clothes and unbrushed hair when all I want it to have more little clothes to wash and hair to comb at my house?
So if you teach classes some times with a lump in your throat or have to blink away tears, I get it, and I'm so very sorry that we're in this club.  I wish I could tell you that it'll get better, but I don't know that.  I only know that you're not alone, I'm not alone, and we're all here to make our corner of the world a little better. Even when it feels so very unfair.  Chins up and on to another day of art teaching.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Solution--Signs, More SIGNS

Parent teacher conferences were last week, and I don't know about you, but I didn't have lots.  I did, however, have LOTS of time to work in my room.  One of my goals for this year was to improve the signage for our spring art show.  I've blogged about the art show many many many times.  Something I probably haven't described accurately is the shear SIZE of a building that can comfortably house 1100+ students.  We have six of each grade level, K-6, plus special education rooms, two gyms, two libraries. . .it's the size of a high school.  And my room is located near the third-sixth grade classes, so very far away from k-second.  So I spent some of my not-conferencing-hours on signs:

I've got some ideas for how to get said signs noticed once the big night comes, but [thankfully] it's still nearly five months away!
With Leader In Me, I'm also toying with the idea of some sort of student guides to let primary parents know that there's fun going on in "the south."  I'll be sure and let you know how it goes (five-ish months from now, I'm sure you'll be waiting with baited breath).
Until then, eyes on the prize, people! Fun & fantastic student art making! Let's get to it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Love This/I Hate This

I made a new poster for my classroom:

I'd been thinking about "Art Is" since Chicago and NAEA.  There was a presentation I went to (maybe it was a museum educator from Ohio?!) and I wrote some notes (and I thought I took pictures), neither of which I can find now.  We were given time during the session to think about what art is, and there was a hashtag. . . I really did think about it, but my hashtag skills are #nonexistent. 
My poster says: 
Art is 
All the ideas 
Rolling around in your head NOT JUST 
Technical skill (how well you draw/paint).  

I used some art images that I had that someone had given me to dress it up a bit.  I do love it, but I hate it's dual purpose:

We had active shooter training for the second time/year in a row last week and covering that little skinny window was a subject covered.  I didn't have any posters that were long enough, so I made this one.  I hate that we live in a world were things like "active shooter" and "elementary school" can go together. 
Keep your chins up, friends, we're doing good and teaching f.i.n.e. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tired Of This Crazy Election?

Geez-oh-pete, I'm exhausted of this election.  I. can't. even. NO MORE!  Honestly, I tried to watch the latest debate and my stomach started hurting.  I will, however, lead fifth grade through a self-portrait-as-the-president lesson with glee.

It's a pretty straight-forward self portrait drawing, color with oil pastels, and make sure there's something patriotic in the background (this is the second half of our Monarchy vs. Democracy lesson), and then we added some writing about ourselves as presidents incorporating a little math (figuring out what year it will be when they're 35 or 40 or 66, however old they want to be when they're president).  

I only have one class right now that has finished, and they did a wonderful & amazing job:

Here's an arrow I added above the kings and queens in the main hallway to get more traffic to our presidents:

And here's the first bit of completed work that's hanging in the hallway:

It's refreshing to remember that wanting to be president can be a good, kind and wholesome venture in this bizarre election year.
Enjoy your days with kids, and be happy that you don't have to be in politics if you don't want to!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Never Want To Lose This

I've thought a lot about the pace of my life lately: as a wife, mother and as an art teacher.  As busy working people, we've got non-stop stuff going on, and it's so easy to forget to stop and be in the moment. I'm grateful for my own little people who help me remember what a wonderful world we live in.  They were out in our backyard picking green tomatoes for one of my co-workers (because I was worried about a freeze that didn't actually happen)

And they found this guy:

Which led to a great discussion about gardening (if you don't know about tomato hornworms and these beneficial wasps, you can learn more here) and the wonders of nature and life cycles.
Cassie Stephens blogged about saying no recently, and it's something I've been thinking so much about.  What are my real goals?  What am I here to do?  I teach 7-8 classes a day.  All different levels, and I'm rushed and hurried and BUSY, but I'm here for STUDENTS.  This is the only time they have first grade art or fifth grade art or adaptive art.  This is it, there's no do-over, and I want it to be amazing and wonderful and fascinating for them (and for me, but that's a different post).
So I never want to lose that feeling of wonder and curiosity.  I want to be excited for students who share good news and make new discoveries.  If that means I don't help paint the staff bathroom or organize activities for a festival, that's perfectly okay.  I need more time to regroup and rejuvenate, and so do you.  Take that time and enjoy that time and remember your real priorities.
Art teacher on, friends, and remember that you are AWESOME.

Friday, October 7, 2016

"That" Class

As art teachers, I'm sure you're familiar with "that" class.  That one that it doesn't seem to matter what you introduce, they take to it like ducks to water and you're not really needed to teach at all, but merely to guide them just a bit.  That's one of my fourth grade classes this year.  We started our Frida Kahlo style self portraits, and here's a sampling of their first day efforts:

I'm not saying they're perfect, but COME ON, they're ten years old!  And well over half the class did so very well!  I can't wait to see how these come out!

Uggghhh PIVOT.  Darn it!!!!

I really like this one.
She looks deep in thought.
This is part of what makes teaching art the best, all the variety!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Half Person, Half Animal, All FUN

I blogged about this lesson years ago, and if you want more of the how to (and a look at the craziness my life was four years ago, click here).  Third graders are FUNNY.  And they like to BE FUNNY, so it's perfect for them!

We talk about art history all year in third grade and think about questions like "why do we have art?" and "what does art do for people?" When we get to this point of art history, about 8000 BC or so, we talk about the ancient village of Catal Huyuk.  (You can also learn more here or here)  The points I want them to remember is that Catal Huyuk was mostly built the way it was for safety, and there were drawings/paintings on the walls of the homes just like the nomadic tribes who painted on cave walls.
Here are some of the interesting ones from this year:

There were a lot of half horses and half fish this year.  I love that they have to work TOGETHER and do some problem solving.  I wish I would've had students do some writing about them, because their writing adds an element of kid-truth that you can't dispute.
Enjoy your day, art teacher friends!
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