Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mythological Animals and Fall Leaves

What can I tell you about this month that's just passed with alarming speed?  Is this how every year goes as a teacher?  Simultaneously overwhelmingly fast and in the slowest, minute detail?  Simultaneously mundane routine and unpredictable from moment to moment?  I find that whenever anyone asks me how this year is going all I want to tell them is a string of contradictory adjectives, but I mean all of them.  As I write this, I am experiencing new levels of exhaustion.  Almost on par with my first year of art school.  But I'm still happy.  When I greet my students getting off the bus in the morning and I see their tired, earnest faces, I know I picked the right job.

Last week, a second grade class finished their project early.  One student began gluing pieces of scrap paper together.  Normally I don't allow children to use so many pieces of scrap paper, but I could see that he was really feeling what he was making.  Another student at his table began to help him glue.  Eventually, more and more students began coming over to add to the project.  Finally (and completely independently of me), the entire class decided to sign their names to the project.  I promised them that I would hang it in the hallway for everyone to see what it looks like when people successfully work together on an art project.  I do so much planning for lessons, and I really believe in the value of what I teach in those lessons based on state standards for Art.  However, I equally believe in the value of what children make when the decisions are left up to them.  I love the moments when I watch a child make an illustrated book about Cheetahs just because he loves Cheetahs, or a student who makes a paper compass complete with a paper case.

The photographs I've included this week are as follows:

1.  My example I created for a first grade Mythological Creature project (I had a lot of fun).
2.  First Grade student example (I LOVE the colors).
3.  A kindergarten student example of a leaf rubbing project.
4.  Another First Grade student example of a Mythological Creature (notice the name of the creature).
5.  A close-up of a fall colors tree project I'm making with all the Kindergarteners.  I'm teaching them about warm and cool colors.

Thank you to everyone who follows this disjointed, sporadic blog-journal.  It feels good to know that even when I'm tired and imperfect, you are out there to encourage me and remind me that you feel these things too.