The Year of the Pandemic
A New Semester
We have begun the new semester and are several weeks in, projects are beginning to roll in an easy flow. I am teaching the same classes as last semester in hopes practicing some new projects and adjusting others. So far this group of kids has been great. There will always be a few that present challenges. Some I will reach and others will continue to be in their own world. It is difficult when I meet students that no one can reach, or at least it has proven such so far. I hope that I can improve my ability to reach more students as I continue my journey. Sometimes all we as individuals need to find our purpose or direction is that one person who made a difference in our lives. I hope that I can be that person for some of these kids that no one else has been able to reach. They are why I am teaching, They are why I do what I do every day. From Tween to Teen to Young adult is the most chaotic times of our lives. It would be a disservice to ignore the complexity of their world internally and externally.
I digress. The future holds some interesting changes for next year. My team and I will be beginning a new course for 2D foundations in the fall. This will require rewriting the current curriculum to encompass two beginning courses into one functional course, with proper vertical alignment. I will also be teaching metals next spring, super excited for this transition. It may lead to a full time position of which I am still on the fence about. I know if it comes up I will take it, but I cannot help but to feel the loss. Currently, I am in a position to be the best art teacher I can be, by remaining active in the community of artists, volunteering time, and working in my studio keeping up my practice while learning more everyday. We will see where this goes. I want the best for my students, and my school.
This is my first year, it has been a challenge in some places and just plain fun in others. I am excited at the opportunities in the future as well as my everyday with the kids.
Over the last three weeks, I have begun to recognize and remember all of my students' names, I am in process of my first grading cycle, and will engage in parent-teacher conferences next week. Whew! My coworkers are great! Super helpful and supportive. If life were perfect, there would not be challenging (patience testing) situations. I must find a way to convince my wayward students to join the activities. I must find that bridge of connection, so that it means something to them. They do not make it easy. I still have a lot to learn at this school, so many things I do not know. We are approaching midterms, which feels weird in relation to my time there. Quarter grades will be due fairly soon and so many of my students still have missing work. I am worried for them, some do not seem concerned at all.
In one of my classes, I introduced a new project and had to clarify some parameters. Since I did not start the year with these kids, they have no idea of my expectations in the studio , and I do not know their understanding of studio practice other than what they have showed me. That said, we talked about certain symbology that would create distress within our environment, and that we are all part of a community of learners and artists that desire a safe space in which to create. There were lots of questions and pushing of boundaries. I attempted to make clear that what they did on their own time, not funded by community dollars, in their own house and own supplies, was their business and they could create whatever they wanted. I wanted them to understand that I was not trying to censor their entire span of expression but maintain a level of professionalism, due to a learning environment.
Here's to a fun, safe, creative, learning environment!
And So it Begins!
I will begin work at Niwot High School on Wednesday, and I am super excited! I cannot wait to see what adventures await there. The part time position is a perfect mix of working with the kids and being able to work in the studio maintaining practice and teaching adults. Thank you universe! More after my first week with the kids!
It is likely that the universe knew exactly what I needed. I have guest taught at many schools in the St. Vrain district and have learned much that I did not know as a pre-service teacher. Most days I enjoy being a substitute, some days I pine for a consistent position where I can get to know my students. I believe whole-heartedly that relationships are the key to classroom management. Most students have no reason to be invested or concerned with how they behave while a guest teacher is present because they are usually a single experience, a throw away moment.
In my recent long term placement I witnessed the transition between a single experience and a long term experience dawning upon many minds, it was an aha moment and an interesting event. Those tiny moments of change or realization, the dawn of an idea or understanding are the most interesting of the human experience. They are different for everyone internally, but externally there is a similarity and connection.
I have recently applied for several job openings within the district and crossing my fingers for a position. I would love to find a part time position so that I may continue my work at Tinkermill. It has become a very important part of my life and teaching career. We will see how things pan out. The hiring cycle for the district is rather short and everyone is looking for a job. There are always too few openings.
Back to the studio for now.
Ready for the Next Step
So you have graduated college, now what.
It seems it was a lifetime ago that I walked up to that podium and shook our director's hand to receive my folio (and later the document) to mark the completion of my education. I have not been idle though. In the months after my fall graduation I have taken on more responsibilities and teaching opportunities at Tinkermill, Longmont's maker space. While school was still in session I finished the year volunteering at my son's school once a week as well as picking up substitute jobs in St. Vrain. I also took the time to delve deeper into my own work as an artist.
I am now looking to obtain a part to full time position teaching. I have put in a few applications for ideal schools. What is an ideal school you ask? For me an ideal school is one that resonates with my philosophies on education and the arts, holds high expectations of their learners, has a minimal commute, and is on the same or similar schedule as my own children. I want to be a good fit for a school as much as I want that school to be a good fit for me. This has all come to light after my recent interview. I was asked questions that I had not thought about in months. My desire to teach and be the light for young people has not waned in that time, but the politics of it all seemed to ebb and become dull. We live in a very interesting age. This interview was my first ever hybrid interview. Most of the panel was in person. One, however, was through internet conference. It was a strange experience. I am used to looking at every physical person in a room when I am talking or listening, but had difficulty remembering to direct my attention to the camera as well.
It did give me ideas about how to minimize lost time or information for learners who have to be away from school for periods of time. I have often entertained the idea of maintaining a flipped classroom style page on my class websites. Preparing simple demos for learner reference. I feel this idea takes it a step further allowing the absent learner to witness the original instruction and have the opportunity to ask questions or receive input on their projects. This idea is not without its questions though. Thinking this through there are possibilities of difficulty or liability. I feel that sometimes learner success is hindered through extended absence and being overwhelmed when they return. Ideally learners with this issue would *want* to engage in learning or at least be aware of what they will be responsible for when they return. I understand the reality of this though.
Wish me luck and never stop being curious.
I will miss the elementary kids at Niwot, they really changed my perspective on elementary art. I feel much more comfortable with the idea of the possibility of working in an elementary setting. I feel like the range of opportunities has broadened for the future.
As promised here is the link to my video presentation on the exhibition and placements. There are also links throughout my webpage for opportunities to watch the 13 minute video.
I have created a video...
Shortly I will be adding a video here that is a presentation of learning: both mine and my students. Currently, I am in the final editing stages of the video production. I am hoping it is engaging and informative. I will post it tomorrow morning before I present it live. *fingers crossed*
Keep and eye out for the link on the Main student teaching page as well as here in the blog.
Updating and Uploading
I cannot believe that I am almost at the end of this leg of the journey. It has taken me 11 years, and now I am here standing on the precipice of reality. Deep breath.
Looking at all of the websites that I have created throughout my pre-service teaching career, I hope that I will be able to use the content in the future. I feel very confident in the site designed for high school, even though I know it will need some adjustments.
Currently, I am taking a small break from updating and uploading all of the content I have taught this semester. Thinking about what I taught feels like I did a lot but when it is viewed in written form it feels like there was not enough time and I could have taken things a lot further. I feel like one of the things I should work on in my first year of teaching is timing. How do I facilitate the maximum amount of learning in such a short amount of time? I then question how much control over my curriculum I will be privy to in my first job. In my high school placement the art department was 100% in control of their curriculum and how they assessed. I feel like it is a very similar situation for the elementary placement. I am worried I will not have enough documentation for the elementary placement. Things move so quickly there it is sometimes difficult to take moment to grab the camera and document the learning.
Okay reality I am ready for you! ;)
Only two weeks left...
I am an artist, full of love for natural and unnatural beauty. I hope to encourage young minds to utilize their creativity in a productive and healthy manner.