I’m pretty sure when I signed up for this gig, I wasn’t prepared for the circus element of it. I remember taking art classes all my life, sitting there, getting inspired, getting in the zone, then going forward and making art. Because my dad was an art educator, I was always surrounded by art supplies and interesting art. I grew up making my own glue – you know the flour and water kind, cutting, pasting, drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing and even turning my attempts at baking into works of art. I truly thought that being an art teacher was going to be all about just being creative and helping kids fall in love with making art all the time, just like I did.
I didn’t think about all the other horribly mundane things I would have to do. I had no idea that I would be spending so many hours writing lesson plans, coming up with project criteria and rubrics, and working on a myriad of PLC goals. Then of course there are the hours and hours spent on grading student work. Sometimes, I feel like it takes me more time to evaluate a student’s work than they actually spent creating it, especially the students who just hurry to get it done. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I never took one statistics class, ever, for a reason. So, the emphasis on collecting, keeping and analyzing data is completely wrecking havoc on my right brain. Putting all of my assignments online, so a few kids who were absent can find out what they missed, is cumbersome and time consuming and I am always behind. And, man is it harder than I thought it was going to be, to really teach kids how to draw.
I decided to be an art teacher because I LOVE TO MAKE ART and I LOVE TO TEACH. I truly love it when a student figures out for the first time that they CAN draw, they CAN shade, they CAN paint, and they CAN create! Wouldn’t it be great if we could just focus on that? Shouldn’t that be what we should be spending our precious hours on?
In my 14 years as a high school art teacher, I have learned to juggle--that’s my circus act. I have found that I am actually pretty good at it too. I have also found other talents that I had no idea I had. I’m sure you have too. For instance, I have learned to talk and take roll at the same time. Sometimes, I have about 20 balls in the air at once, and yes, sometimes I drop some of the balls. But I must be doing well enough because they haven’t kicked me out of the circus yet.
For my month of blog contributions, I am going to be writing about juggling my life as an art teacher and my life as an artist. I am going to share some things that I am working on in my classes as a teacher to be more focused on helping kids love making art and the things I am doing in my studio as an artist. I’ll let you know how it goes.