Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Approaching October

So, It's been a few weeks.  I knew that it would be hard to write weekly once things got going and I can honestly say that things are now going.  Meetings have sprung up across my calendar, there's new lessons to be written, principal observations, the school website to maintain (or begin, really), there's project examples to be made, supplies to be cleaned and managed, behavior forms to be written, projects to be graded.  I'm not listing my tasks in order to complain, I realize that this is what I signed up for.  Most of the time I love it, too.  I'm getting to know my students a lot better.  I'm finding real joy in watching the first grade boy who typically misbehaves in art getting really into making paper beads.  I'm loving the field guides I've asked my second graders to make about our school's garden, drawings complete with often misspelled words such as "seed" or "tomato plant."  The photos I've included in this post are as follows: A photo of me in front of the tree of life wearing the new apron Ashley gave me for my birthday to wear in school, A photo of a monster by a second grader (Which I think looks like fifth grade work), A photo of a first grade "stained glass" window project, and a photo of a kindergarten "AB pattern" snake project.

I can't mislead that it's all going perfectly, either.  I struggle so hard with clean-up, especially with my kindergarteners.  Yesterday's clean-up of a tissue-paper and glue project went so horrendously that today I changed the project to oil pastels.  I still feel like getting kindergarteners to follow more than one task during is enormously challenging, and this is difficult because there's often four or even five steps to a clean-up.  Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to chase feral cats around the classroom, and they've definitely got the upper hand.  Sometimes I also feel like I have to work with every ounce of my being to command the first and second graders to stop being so chatty when I'm giving instruction.  Sometimes I literally have to stop every thirty seconds to say,"if you have something to say, please raise your hand."  Wait thirty seconds, and someone else is calling out again.  Thirty seconds later, someone else.  It could be so much harder.  Many of the children I student taught would cuss at me and had problems so big, they couldn't fit within the walls of a classroom.  Still, as a first year teacher, I'm struggling with normal, first year teacher struggles.  I like calling teaching "my teaching practice" because I am definitely practicing.  I'm trying different strategies, brainstorming, and most of all, trying to write meaningful, exciting art lessons that will hopefully put my kids on a lifelong creative path.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Tree of Life finally has some Life

Last week was long.  I wasn't feeling well for half of the week and I had my first experience teaching while feeling ill.  It was a valuable experience in the end because I ended up altering one of the projects I was doing with the Kindergarteners because I felt too ill to face all of the steps the project required.  Although the altered project wasn't as rich as the original project, everything worked out fine and it was good for me to see that I could improvise when I need to.  This week was also challenging because both the First and Second graders were at the tail end of a project.  I am in the process of teaching each grade a clean-up procedure because clean-up is one of the biggest challenges for me as a new art teacher.  I have always find that when I lose a class, it's at clean-up time.  Therefore, I decided to make a very clear clean-up procedure to teach each grade and to keep reinforcing this procedure until they know what to do.  I hope it works!  I'm new at this, so I can only imagine what I hope my students will be able to do with a few more weeks practice.

A part of the clean-up process is the Tree of Life.  When the children finish early and clean-up their spots (and pass my inspection), they can choose to free-draw, read a book, or work on a piece of art for the Tree of Life.  This past week, I wanted to teach the first and second graders what this might look like.  Therefore, the students who had already finished their projects were required to make something for the Tree of Life.  I'm a little worried that by the end of the year there will be so much paper on the Tree of Life that it won't look like anything and there won't be any wall left.  Honestly though, even if that's what happens, it will be fun.  I want the children to be involved in an ongoing art installation.  I want the entire school to participate and I want them not to care who made what- but just to marvel in what we all made, all of us together.