Audubon to …Castle! James and James!

I audubon-cover.pngam so excited about this project. 4th graders were introduced to James Audubon and we have begun to read the picture about him written by Melissa Sweet. After choosing a photo of a bird they liked, they began to sketch the bird in their sketchbooks, and were introduced how to draw the birds beginning by looking for the shapes that make up the bird. To assist with that, students were given dry erase markers to trace the shapes on the laminated photograph. I think all their sketches are fantastic, especially so for kids who are drawing from observation for the first time ever! They were very apprehensive about their drawings, and I think a lot of their self esteem is low regarding their ability in art. But I truly believe they are doing awesome. And I told them that… but they were still hesitant to believe, and then I reminded them, that I would never lie about their art. I will always tell them what could be improved upon and how to do that. Those bird drawings are simply gorgeous to me. I hope they start to see that too. File_005

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Next week we will use are drawings to cut out layers of bird shapes on card board to assemble a bird sculpture a la Jame Castle. I can’t wait to see how they turn out!


6ABC news piece at beginning of school year…

back to school…

everyone is posting there back to school posts and photos and i’m still at home searching for a job. i’m crushed. i feel so lost without my art room. i should be at school reorganizing the tables, and cleaning the art bins.

this is the first year ever that i have not returned to school- besides when i was an infant/toddler, that is before i started going to school. i have always been in the routine of returning to school after summer. and now, i very well might not be. most of my identity is wrapped up in school, in teaching- in my art room. being an art teacher is all i ever wanted to be, and now what- I have to give it up for a year? maybe more? who knows?? this sucks. plain and simple sucks. nine years of teaching. undergrad and grad degree going to waste right now. i belong in the classroom. i am great at what i do. i love what i do. it’s not just a job for me. it’s more than that.

so as everybody posts their back to school shots i feel the anxiety stir in my chest. what grand reason am i being held back a year? is there a plan here? people keep saying it will get better, but when?

i can make a lot of great things happen for wherever i end up. i hope they see that in me. i hope i can convey that. i can do a lot for them. and wherever it is, i assume it is meant to be. i just hope it is sooner than later.

A bit belated of a post…

I meant to post this a couple weeks ago while actually on an airplane… whoops…

I’m really not finding my situation any easier. Coming to work becomes more difficult every day knowing that I am closer and closer to uncertainty in my future work. I fear not having a placement lined up. I become more and more anxious, and more and more resentful of those who get to keep their jobs.
I am a great teacher. I know I am. I love what I do, and I want to keep doing it. Why can’t I find a job?? Why won’t anyone call me back?? Am I not that. Good on paper? Or have my colleagues and supervisors pulled a veil over my eyes to lead me to falsely believe I am a great educator?

Right now as I write this I am sitting on a plane, Flying back to Atlanta, the city I left where I landed probably the best job a new and old teacher could get in the metropolitan area. Sometimes I resent that I left that job. But then I never would have met Michael, and let’s just hope there’s more to this sentence with a better job waiting to find me here in Philly.

During the majority of the flight I read most of an e-book written by one of my college professors, Paula Eubanks. She wrote about pinhole photography; the history, the process, artists, projects, etc. It had me reflecting back to my teaching photography classes at North Springs High School. I loved it so much. I loved the students, and their enthusiasm for the art, and how exciting the whole process was for both of us. And we were all so good at it! I was able to teach them in an orderly, systematic way with clarity so they unrestored the material, and they produced stunning, captivating work that spoke with subtle sophistication. I could not have asked for a better first two years of teaching. Reading Paula’s book really made me want to teach photography again, and to take my own photos again.

I know ultimately that I want to be in the high school level classroom again, and I certainly hope that is what I am granted, though I know I can do good wherever I go. I just hope that some principle or human resources person out there just reads my info and realizes what there is in me. Get past the paper and get me in the classroom.


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