I was born to be an art teacher. Some things you just know for certain. I love teaching art, and I know I am good at it. 

I love planning lessons, teaching art history, teaching technique, and helping students grow artistically and creatively. I even enjoy the paperwork aspect of being a teacher. I love the relationships I develop with my students and I love learning from them as well. 

I love my job. 

Today I feel a little down. I feel under-appreciated.  I am scared of loosing my job- or loosing some of the classes I teach. I’m not struggling completely, but I feel the an ominous sensation of struggle to come. Today is punching me in the gut. I am living in uncertainty right now, and I need stable ground. I need courage. I need to remember why I do what I do.


Found this awesome and true illustration surfin’ the net. Totes hanging it in mah class room.


I was listening to Susan Cain’s Ted Talk, and her dialogue on the Ted Talk podcast, and I found myself wondering about myself. I completely agree with Cain’s ideas about introverted people, and how their ideas are often left out or neglected. As she explains, extroverts are the loudest and often most heard, so their ideas are the ones gathered and used. 

So how does this relate to me and to my classroom?? Well, I have always considered myself a shy person; slightly withdrawn and socially awkward at times. I rarely speak up at meetings, and prefer to work alone and do things myself. However, in my classroom, I have never once felt that shyness or introversion. I thrive in my room. I can talk to students, I can tell stories and anecdotes, I share ideas, and I take charge (as I must). So does this mean I am not introverted? I’m okay with it either way. But if I am extroverted I think I am a shy extrovert. 

Obviously this made me think about how I teach my students.  I wonder if I do not pay attention enough to those students ideas who prefer not to speak out… I wonder if I act differently to the extroverts. Am I negative to them? Do I stifle my extroverts, and demand too much of my introverts?

Luckily, the art room can be even playing ground for many types of learners, as well as both introverts and extroverts. Students can choose to share ideas, or they can work out their ideas on their own. We have not done any group art projects in my class, as time has not allowed that, but I wonder how that would go over with my introverts???

This is something I want to keep in my peripheral thoughts as I plan my lessons and teach my students. I want to encourage the worth of students working together, but also encourage the ability to work independently. And I want to make sure I am not trying to make a student change who they are to fit some grand uniform schematic of how people should be.


I listened to the Ted Talks podcast title “Building a Better Classroom” earlier this week. It’s really all I can think about right now. I had an opportunity to talk about it in a faculty meeting yesterday, but in between listening to my colleagues, I could not fully form in my mind what it is I wanted to say. In our meeting we were discussing the gap between genders in those whom receive principle’s comments. (Principle’s comments are a good thing, reserved for those who get mostly A’s.) A common trend seems to be that middle school girls receive more comments than boys, and so our concern is how do we close that gap.

Our conversation led to talk of assessment, teaching styles, learning styles, and developmental differences. One of my colleagues comments has been resonating in my ear, which was something one of her children’s teachers told her that stuck with her. She said,  "Schools are designed for girls.“ Meaning, girls have been training for it before they enter the classroom by playing school at home. Another teacher spoke to the developmental difference in how girls are more verbal in a classroom- better verbal learners than boys. Boys tend to be more kinesthetic learners, and demand more engagement. She also said, and I may be butchering this a bit, "The day we learn to teach math problems with a ball and hoop is the day we learn to teach to boys.”

Part of me wants to fight that gender roles we impose upon girls and boys, and such comments as above only perpetuate those roles. But at the same time, they do hold true for many children. So regardless, what I believe should be happening in the classroom is more teaching as explored in the podcast I linked. The sort of teaching and classroom environment discussed in the podcast and Ted Talks plays to both boys and girls strengths. It encourages creativity, critical thinking and analytical thinking allowing for more outside the box learning. And isn’t that what we need in our future leaders?? Don’t we need more divergent thinkers to help solve our world’s problems and to save ours and their futures as well as generations to come?? Why would we continue to teach in a sit down lecture format with answers being regurgitated back? It might take more time and effort on part of the educator, but is it not worth it??!! To create an authentic learning environment where children work together, grow together, and solve problems together!

Ugh. Okay. Maybe I am getting preachy. I just see so much value in the ideas and teaching styles shared by Ken Robinson, Salman Kahn, and John Hunter. And listening to Hunter discuss his students and the learning that takes place- it’s inspirational!

I wish I could have figured out how to say what I wanted to say at my faculty meeting. I’m still not sure what I would have said…  maybe something about how our teaching styles need to change to teach to more types of learners, and maybe that will close the gap between middle school boys and girls…

Building a Better Classroom