About this Site and Me

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Flower Mound, TX, United States
Hi, I am an artist, wife, mom, gamer and the Elementary Art Educator at Donald Elementary, a sweet and wonderful school in Flower Mound, TX (outside of Dallas). This is a great place to see how we are integrating studio habits with technology and interdisciplinary connections. I also love to share my "wisdom" (Re: Experiences. From mistakes.) about teaching Elementary Art. I love what I do, and I've been doing it for a long time. Creating and teaching Art is what I live for. Enjoy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

1st Week Post! (or: How I Beat Laryngitis This Year!)

(official way cool art teacher disclaimer: I absolutely love my job. But the first week...seriously, it's a beating.) Oh, and this post is kinda wordy. I'm sorry.

OK peeps, whew. All I can say is YAY! The first week is over. I don't know about you guys, but I am normally a weepy, hoarse-throated, headache-y blob of worthlessness by Friday. I have been teaching for 20 plus years. I ALWAYS forget what the first week entails. Kinda like childbirth *wink wink*. Ha ha.

This is usually how it goes: The first day (Monday) is always AWESOME! Sunshine and unicorns and the kids are wonderful joys and I am super excited!!! I AM THE BEST TEACHER EVER!

See that blob in the paint? That's me. Or it might be a happy tree.
 By Thursday we teachers greet each other in the halls with glazed expressions, repeating the same phrase: we always forget what the first week is really like, don't we? Oh ha ha ha!  Thursday afternoon I literally hugged a wall. I walked up, spread my arms and just...hugged it.  The kids are cooked: tired and crying. Forget open ended, empathic questions. Ha! Older kids can barely keep their heads off the table. This is probably the only week of the entire year they do not talk. Kindergartners have this shell shocked expression, asking, do we really have to come back TOMORROW? Do we really have to do this again? 

What most people don't understand about being a "Specials" or "Fine Arts" teacher is that we have to give the exact same presentation to every single class we see. So for us, we repeat the first day of school for 4, 5, 6 or 7 days. I give the same song and dance, rinsed and repeated to 24 classes. It is the most important thing we teachers do to prepare for a successful school year. We plan for success, we manage expectations. If you don't do this, or some semblance of this, you are planning to fail.

These are the tried and true, can't-be-missed things I do every time I see a class the first week of school:
  1. seating charts-
  2. getting to know all the new kiddoes- 
  3. rules and procedures-
  4. where the trash can, sink and paper towels live-
  5. how this thingy works-
  6. please never touch the paper cutter-
  7. what exactly is considered a bathroom emergency-
  8.  iPads and how we are going to use them-
  9. introducing: App Tutorials!
  10. and if we have time: portfolios
Is it any wonder I can't talk or even make simple decisions by Friday? I am a wreck. My family usually spends Labor Day weekend treating me like I am recovering from surgery. I normally spend the weekend nursing terrible hoarseness,  migraines and exhaustion.

BUT NOT THIS TIME. I changed it up folks! I let the kids do most of the work. It was awesome! And I only had to deal with the migraine! And, well, some exhaustion, but my throat feels great!

Check this out!
 I asked each class: 
How do you want Art to be this year?
What projects do you want to do?
How should artists treat each other and the room?

1st graders deciding how they want Art to be this year!
So I threw this up on my document camera and wrote their answers, verbatim I might add. I absolutely LOVE their thoughtful responses.

I asked them if they could do these things. A student said, "If we write them, sure!"
So that was a cool moment. I allow a lot of freedom in my room, more than a lot of teachers, but having the kids help plan our yearly projects and the atmosphere of the room is new and really special.

Check out 5th grade:

I apologize, my handwriting is atrocious. Hopefully you can see all the awesomeness here.

Can you see where they said to act like a Smurf?! Happy and hardworking! Can you believe it. A 5th grade boy.

And 3rd grade:

Spy Talk! How awesome is that?!

What did I learn? These kids want to create with yarn, clay and they desperately want to learn observational drawing skills. With the iPads and other tech, they want to learn photography.

They want a judgement free, relaxing and quiet Art Room. But is it really quiet? Not always. Nope. We are too creative and chatty for that. So "Spy Talk" and soft music-Pandora Calm Meditation-to the rescue!

I will be posting these kid-created Rules and Procedures in my room as Tree Maps. Hopefully, since the kids have ownership, I won't have to remind them as much??? Hmmm. I will keep you posted.

So if you stuck with me this far...Yay! Thank you! And here is your prize: You really are awesome. You are EXACTLY where you need to be. You ARE changing lives.

To those starting Back to School this week, go get 'em. Hug a wall if you need to. Drink lots of water, sleep a ton and let the kids do some talking.

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