The last 9 weeks of school!! It always creeps up on me. When I started this post, I thought ‘hmmm, this sounds familiar. I wonder if I’ve posted about this every March since I became an art teacher?’. So I had to go look. Only 2 out of the 3 years (in March, anyway, and now it’s 3 out of 4). But, I found this post from my first year as an art teacher and had to share those thoughts:
I just can’t believe my first year (hopefully not my only year) as an art teacher is on the final lap. Wow!
It seems like it just started and I was excited, and overwhelmed, and nervous, and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and was just barely keeping my head above water!
And now it’s getting close to the end and I’m excited, and overwhelmed, and nervous, and don’t have a clue what I’m doing (some days anyway), and am just barely keeping my head above water!
I know next year will be easier in some ways. I”ve learned more than I could have ever imagined I would learn. I’m trying to make a list. It might be pretty long. Parts of it might be pretty funny. Parts of it might make me cry.
And, the next year (and the next year) were easier in some ways. I’m still challenged regularly, which is good. I hope I always am. I also am still barely keeping my head above water. But less each year. So, progress.
I also, once again, for 4 years running, left clay until the last 9 weeks. Maybe this is how it should be. Stressful, but fun?
Hmmmm. I have to digress for a moment (ok, maybe for the rest of this post). I was in a meeting about “specials” this year, and a comment was made about media specialists requiring a lot of non-student contact time in order to do their job – and I agree with that, they do!
It was then noted that maybe art was another area that required a lot of non-student contact time to do the job. Seriously? MAYBE?!?!?! One of my coworkers noted that we could use help washing paintbrushes. That was probably not the best example, but it led me to ponder all the “non-student” work required to do my job. It’s huge. It includes washing paintbrushes (and glaze brushes, and paint cups), but also includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Preparing tray liners so that I know to whom each clay Christmas ornament belongs before, and during, baking.
- Inserting eye pins into each ornament, before baking, so they can be hung on a Christmas tree.
- Baking said Christmas ornaments. Has to be done after school at the complete opposite end of the school building. One tray of ornaments per class (13 classes, plus staff).
- Writing names and year on each of the (280 or so) above mentioned ornaments after baking, and then putting them in a container with teacher name on it, so they can be distributed.
- Inserting tree hooks into each eye pin on each ornament.
- Glazing and hanging ornaments, keeping them in classroom groups to be put back into the containers with teacher names.
That is just for one project. Multiply that by . . . umm, well, let’s see . . . lots.
I have five minutes between most of my classes. Below are photos of my classroom after a Kindergarten class was doing a cutting and gluing project. No paint this day. I have a 30 minute “plan” time after this class (but not after each Kindergarten class), before 3rd grade comes. Thank goodness. Also thank goodness I didn’t actually need to do any “planning” as I had done it at home the night before.
I think all specials matter and are important. I don’t think we are all treated equitably. I don’t really know how to change or fix that, especially with school budgets so tight. In my school district, elementary students have 90+ minutes a week of music, pe and media. I think that’s important and matters and should not be cut. But, they have 45 minutes of art. I think this is common, and I’m thankful we at least have that much art time. I’m also not just saying this as an art teacher, but also as a parent. I wish my own children had had more art in their elementary years, when I wasn’t an art teacher. Lots of arguments stem from how many minutes are recommended by state and national organizations for each specialty area, and that no one is getting near what is recommended. But none lack so much as art. Art has less than half the time with students than what the state and national art education governing bodies recommend, AND half of what all the other specialty areas have. And, art is a “core” discipline as noted by the National Dept. of Education. AND, art teaches problem solving, creativity, and so many other things which help students be successful in the ever-changing digital world.
Ok, off my soapbox. I know I’m preaching to the choir. Thanks for listening