Tag Archives: teacher

End of the Year! Me, oh my! The time sure did fly!

So, I did not post on this nearly as much as I intended to this year because everything just got so super busy. As I sit here at my desk, while all my regularly scheduled classes are on field trips, I silently agree with myself that now is a great time for a little reflection, with more to come later.

It’s been a rough but productive year. The district had some issues with the substitute teacher service they shelled money out for, and many teachers were called upon repeatedly for coverage. All across the district this was happening. Some teachers got it worse than others. Some principals would cancel entire classes or specials periods to have teachers cover. Naturally this was frustrating and exhausting for many, especially when there is still so much that is expected to get done by us, but that time to get it done is taken away. So that had a lot of people on edge, including myself. Anytime my room phone would ring, I cringed.

I stayed late many days to get caught up. And by the time I got home, I was pooped. Yet still, I had to summon up the energy to organize and plan meetings for the Philadelphia Art Teacher Alliance. It’s a labor of love, though. I love what I do, and I love being able to connect with other people who love art education as well- teachers or advocates.

I look forward to spending my third year in the same school and second year in the same room next school year. My rapport with students will have grown, and I will be more equipped to meet their needs artistically and expressively…more holistically all around too, really. Being in the same room, will allow me more time to focus on refining my lessons, and weeding out the not so great ones. I also hope for better camaraderie with my colleagues in the school building. I LOVE my basement room, but feel a little left out at times… I know… boo hoo, call the wambulance. But seriously, I want to connect with them more, and connect my art lessons to what they are doing in their classrooms more.

Consider this my summer to do list:

-blog/reflect on each lesson.

-write new lessons

-plan field trips

-plan locations for PATA meetings

-reach out to local artists to come into my classroom

-write DonorsChoose project for adaptive art materials and for printmaking supplies

-fundraise!

-visual verbal journal everyday

-refine student self-assessment sheet- one for all to use…or maybe k-2 and 3-8

– think of more stuff to do

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaboration is Key

On May 10th, I lead our 1/2 day teacher Professional Development, with support from the Philadelphia Collaborative Teacher Center. The plan was to create an activity for our staff to participate in directed towards improving school collaboration and culture, improving team building and strengthening community.

At first I struggled to come up with an idea. Whatever we decided to do, I wanted to be sure staff were collaborating, that they engaged in an arts based activity, and that they could be proud with the end results. Eventually, as I was walking in our quite bare stairwell, I had the thought of mural painting. But how could I create this for the staff to be successful?! Simple- geometric masking tape murals!

The 5'x5' area taped off and taped with paint and supplies in the box.
The 5’x5′ area taped off and taped with paint and supplies in the box.

 

I began by showing a super brief Power Point, showing examples of what masking tape murals look like, discussed how they should divide up their time, and ways in which they could create the geometric shapes. The presentation lasted at most 15 minutes. I wanted teachers to get painting as soon as possible. On each floor I taped off a 5’x5′ area in the stairwells. Staff worked together with all who worked on their floor level. I prepared and provided a tarp and plastic to protect the ground, masking tape (just the basic stuff here- not painters tape), paint, paintbrushes, mixing spoons, paper towels, a yard stick (in case they wanted to get technical), mixing cups, and buckets of water. Once they got to their painting station, they dove in.

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It was so exciting to see all the staff’s creativity on display as they began to plan their designs.

Each floor’s design was so unique, and everyone seemed to work together smoothly to create a finished mural in under 2 hours!! 2 hours!!

 

I still have some touching up to do where the tape took a little of the wall with it, but that’ll be no biggie.

At the end of the day, after painting, I had teachers respond to at least 2 of 4 prompts I had posted. Here are some of my favorite takeaways:

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The post it note post session prompts
Enjoyed about the PD:
“Everyone came together as one. Everyone’s idea and vision was respected.”
“Using creativity and we got to paint on the walls without fear.”
“Great way to collaborate.”
“The painting and a chance to be creative.”

“Togetherness.”

How did you come together as a team?:
“Building off others’ ideas”
“We each expressed which design we liked best, which turned out to all be a radial style.”
“Randomly! We all pitched in. It was fun!”
“Some people created the design, others painted, and some procured support and music.”
How can collaboration strengthen or build professional relationships?
“We had to listen to each others opinions and feedback and take turns.”
“Allow others to shine in their place of strength”
“Collaboration is the key to completion of a project.”
“Finding common ground can help bond.”
“Collaboration builds communication.”

“Letting each other know their ideas are valuable by building a complete idea together.”

How can the PD inspire your work or teachings…?

“Find more ways to collaborate in my classroom.”

“Bringing fun back to learning without pressing to meet expectation.”

“Get another perspective from others.”

“Teach students to recognize opinions and differences. Be willing to work with others.”

“Thinking outside of the box.”

“Teach kids to collaborate and respect each other!”

“Putting together a fun activity to involve students.”

“Teamwork. Unity. Friendship.”
Lastly, a lasting effect the murals have had is the teachers actually using them to teach with!!! In the past week, I have seen at least two teachers using them. And that’s enough for me to call it a lasting success of collaboration, cross curricular connection, and school beautification! I overheard one of our Autistic Support classroom teachers having her students identify letters hidden in the first floor mural, and our 4th grade teacher had her students identifying all the polygons, tetrahedron, etc. She took the project even further and is having her students work collaboratively to create their own mini geometric tape designs!! Way to go Mrs. Austin!!! I love it! I can’t wait to see the final pieces!!

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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.