Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trying to Motivate Sixth Grade

Sixth grade gets some SERIOUS "senior-itis" by this time of the year. They're really too cool for school and getting them excited (particularly when you see them at the very end of the day like I do) is feels nearly impossible.  
I'd decided at the end of last year to do some silk screen printing with my sixth graders to make class t-shirts, and then so much came up that we're just now getting to it at the last two weeks of school (nothing like cutting it close). Due to traveling to another school at the end of the day, I only have two sections of sixth graders this year.  I ordered two ready-made silk screens through Nasco, along with a squeegee and four colors of fabric printing ink.  The photo emulsion I already had at home, mixed and ready to go in my refrigerator (doesn't everyone???).
Technology is not my forte, and when I tried getting them to use their chromebooks to make t-shirt designs on their own time, I didn't have much luck.  I sent out a cry for help to one of our tech people, and she came to the rescue by helping me "team teach" the computer/tech part (ie, she taught it, I wandered the room helping/kind of struggling along with my students).  She also set up a voting link through Schoology (that I might want to tweak before next time, because it seemed like they only voted along friend lines. . . ) but anyway, all that part is done, votes were tallied (I made some executive decisions when ties were discovered). 
Today will be our first day/class printing.  Students were expected to bring their own t-shirts from home, and to watch the videos I dropped into Schoology yesterday BEFORE they come to art.  Here's the test print video I made for them:

I am truly excited to share the joy of silk screen printing with my classes, and I hope they like it too.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sweet Little Flower Paintings

I wrote about this lesson three years ago, and it's pretty much a late April/early May "must do" lesson in my class.  They're just ADORABLE:

My kinders are great with scissors again this year, so we used our extra time to make some adorable cards.  We had a lengthy discussion about where to hide these glorious paintings to surprise our moms on Mother's Day (lots of talk of "my sister's closet" came up here).  My own daughter is in kindergarten this year, and I heard a bit of conversation with Mr. One Happy Art Teacher about where she was going to hide it when she got home.  Even though I saw all these paintings and cards in art, I'm betting I'll be teary come Sunday.  
Nothing better than children's thoughtful, heartfelt art!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

Oh, friends.  The end of the year is near, and we're all feeling the siren call of summer.  I've seen so many vents/worries/comments lately about an overall feeling of no respect for what we do.  Questions about "is it my age?" "Is this just the way it is?"  I'm not even going to pretend to have the answers, but I've been doing this for a while, in a couple of districts, in four or five (or more???) buildings and I sometimes feel the burn of does-anyone-value-what-I'm-doing-here along with [some of] the rest of you.  Especially when the higher-ups decide that art/music/PE will be starting at a early school and ending a late school and adults ask "Leaving so soon?" when you're rushing out of the building to get to the second (late) building.  I hear you.  I feel you.
But let's take a step back for a minute and realize that ALL teachers and ALL administrators that I know are BUSY, and it's hard to see the forest for the trees when we're all running as fast as we can.  You know what's helped me?  Conversation.  Dialogue. Calmly asking "why is this so?"  "Has anyone thought this through?" And then really listening to the reply.  
[Full disclosure, this next one is hard for me, and I usually need to think on it for a day or two before I can really do it.] Calmly, respectfully laying out the [very real] concerns about the issue (scheduling, supplies/lack of supplies, admin support, things like that) and then giving the other party/person time to think it over (overlook the initial reaction if they're not calm at the time). And take some (sometimes very small) comfort in the knowledge that you tried.  You did something other than just complain and lose sleep over it.
Here's the reality: you need a supportive spouse/parent/friend that you can cry to.  I mean really cry--tears streaming down your face at 11 pm over the disaster you know awaits you the next day.  You have to have that person.  I don't know how you'd survive if you didn't.  But they can't fix it for you.  You have to calmly bring it to someone's attention.  Someone who can [maybe] do something, or maybe just bring it up to the higher-ups. Don't expect someone else to realize your reality (they won't).  Really ask yourself "is this good for students?" and if it's not, something needs to change.
I agree that we're all "doing this for students" but you're important too.  You add value to your building.  Just by being you.
If you don't have your personal cheerleader/supportive spouse/friend, go find them.  Or email me.  I'm all about 'cha.
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