Friday, March 26, 2010

Little by Little

So, I'm an elementary art teacher for those of you who don't know. I switched from middle school to elementary mid-year. It was not a good half of the year.

So now I am smack dab in the middle of teaching the little ones and I must say for the most part I love it. Sure, it can get challenging and aggravating but I do enjoy it.

Today stuck out to me though. On some days I have two classes of the same grade level. Today was my double third grade.

The first class came in (honestly not my favorite, good kids...they just don't get along with one another) and we had to move seats around then I wanted to show some slides of abstract art and talk about how you illustrate feelings with abstract art. I had already had them try to draw some feelings in a previous class and now I wanted to show them some real things and they could change their ideas.

They kept interrupting one another and me. They wouldn't stay on topic and I even had someone ask if they could start the art stuff because this was boring. (insert rage here) I spent the last five minutes of the class half-berating them and half-pleading for them to start acting like actual third graders and not kindergartners (although out of my 5 classes of kinders only one acts like that). So after a harried class my next third grade came in.

Talk about a bipolar age.

They were WONDERFUL. No seats had to be moved, we got right into our discussion, we actually discussed what they saw in abstract art, then what they felt from the colors and shapes. We talked about Picasso's Guernica and they were oh so close to figuring out it was about a bombing. We discussed Frank Stella's shapes and how one of his pieces was a beach. The discussion was going so well with people raising their hands and listening to one another that I even had to put time limits and calling on less kids. Then I passed their papers back and they re-did some of their sketches and colored in things. When I told them we were making watercolor paintings out of their sketches on real watercolor paper you could feel their excitement in the air. "Real paper, like a real artist"

I totally heart this class. They seriously have given me one of the most fulfilling teaching days I think I have ever experienced.

Also a positive note: My first graders did pinch clay animals and except for a couple broken pieces here and there they came out okay. I fired two classes worth of glazeware and have at least two potential art show pieces from that (it's in a few weeks!) and loaded up a kiln before I left with the last two classes. I'll probably have one or two from those classes too.

I live sculpture making so much more than vessel making. The other teacher that taught elementary only ever had the kids make different kinds of cups (small pinch, big pinch, small coil, big coil mug) BORING in my opinion. So I had my first graders make pinch animals. Any kind they wanted. Next year I'll do more things with the clay, like relief sculptures, greek vessels, mini-busts, and boxes. The kids can do it. You just need to expect more from them.

That's what I'm doing. The kids always tell me how hard my projects are but they love my class even though it is so hard and they complain. But their projects turn out great. Expect more and get more.

So things are good on the teaching front. Getting more and more comfortable every day. I'm already planning on what to do for next year if I have a job. I already know what I'll do if I don't.

Want to know?

I'll drink and cry myself into oblivion for the first week. Then update all my resumes and whatnot and go get a retail job until I find teaching employment.

I hope to avoid that.

Lets end on a happy note...I got married! Once I get some more photos and possible long videos (I have some short ones) I will do giant uber post.

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