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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Not having a way cool year...

So, this year is not going the way I thought. During the summer, I thought this would be a great year. A normal year. No major issues, business as usual. Then, an unexpected medical issue (like, who expects those??) in September knocked me out for two full school weeks. Not cool. I thought I would be fine after this Christmas break (two weeks of sleeping, yoga pants, mimosas and the smell of that tree! Come on!), but this (medical nuisance, really) is really kicking my butt. Now I am looking at Spring Break as my "maybe I will feel like myself again" goal.
So. Not. Cool.

I am having a "B" year.  Ever have one of those? Psh, lemme tell you, they're a real treat.

To be clear, for me, most school years are "A":

  • I love my job!
  • Having a blast with the kids!
  • Look at this cool project we are doing!
  • Smiles and sunshine!
  • Leadership opportunities! Oh yes!
  • Lesson plans are always awesome and on time!
  • Staying on top of blogs, websites and class Facebook page!
  • Lots of awesome art displays!
Here's a "B" year:
  • Lots of sick days.
  • Lots of Dr. apts.
  • Receiving phone calls, during the day, you know, while we're teaching.
  • Stressed, tired, worried, annoyed, sad.
  • Not changing out bulletin boards enough.
  • Not grading art work fast enough.
  • Not staying on top of classroom social media.
  • Feeling like a loser because it's a "B" year.
Teach long enough and that "B" year will hit you. I hope you only experience this once or twice during your career. But let's face it, whether it's a divorce, illness- family or yourself, major family issues, etc... something is going to happen that will knock the wind out of your sails. We all have bad days, months, or an entire school year. Good news (cliche news?), it will get better. It does. 

The trick is getting through this year with successful lessons for the kids, and your job (and reputation, sorry, that matters to me) intact. Unfortunately, this is not my first "B" year, my first was 1995. Then, 2011. Now this year.

Here are some tips to help you manage a bad month, semester, year:

  1. Talk to your administration. No matter your relationship with your principal or supervisor,  make an appointment, close the door and tell them your issue. You never know the level of support you will receive. Doesn't matter. Tell them anyway. If you are a private person, ask them to keep it confidential. I cannot stress how important this step is for you. If you keep your issues to yourself, and let your classroom slide, you might find yourself with official reprimands. Your job could be at stake. Keep your administrators in the loop, update as needed. Make sure they see that you are taking care of business at school. 
  2. SUBMIT YOUR LESSON PLANS. Do not, DO NOT let this drop. 
  3. Have sub plans ready. One day, one rotation, 2 weeks. Do it now. See this link: I need a sub!
  4. Focus on your students. When you are at school, they are your priority. Plus, they will take your mind off...things...
  5. Have a support system in place. I'm not a private person, but I hated asking for, or accepting, help. What I learned: Never say no to a helping hand. You need help to get through this tough time. Turn to your team, or another teacher, or your friends and family outside of school. Notice. I did NOT SAY PARENTS. I do not recommend turning to your students' parents for help. This is very unprofessional and could come back to bite you. 
  6. Speaking of... Remain professional on social media, if you have a classroom Facebook page, Twitter, blogs, sites, etc. This is not the forum to rant about your troubles.
  7. And... Be careful what you say to or around your students. This is your problem. It is not their problem. Your emergency is not their emergency. Yes, that stings to hear. But no 7 year old needs to hear about your divorce. 15 year olds cannot empathize with your diagnosis. Tell them enough to answer basic questions, reassure them, move on to art making.
  8. Did I mention having a support system in place?
  9. Treat school like occupational therapy. When you're at school, be at school. Focus on the kids, your lessons, your displays. Clean a cabinet, a closet. You may not have control over the crappy part of your life, but you can control what's in your cabinets. 
  10. However, if you are ill, sit. Chill. Don't get in the kids faces. Wash your hands all the timeYou can teach art sitting (I hate it, but I had to. It was boooooring, but I did it).
  11. Don't text or take phone calls during the school day. Escape from your issues for awhile. Except when it's that super important Doctor or Lawyer call you have been waiting forrreeevvver for. You have to take that. Get someone to cover your class, and go hide in a closet, bathroom, whatever. 
  12. Use your older kids as helpers. Whatever kind of school you teach in, you have some older kids who are awesome, responsible and capable of hanging art in the halls, preparing and prepping art supplies, running paperwork errands. I have about 7 5th grade "Art Helpers" who come in once or twice a week during their recess. I put them to work! USE. YOUR. KIDS.
  13. Use your waiting room time to update social media. If having a digital presence is important to you, your students or your school, Dr's waiting room time is a great time to update. Pop in some text and photos. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Plus, it takes your mind off..things...
  14. Remember. This is temporary. This will end. And next year, what kind of art room or art program do you envision? Focus on that. You will get through this. 
Hang in there, peeps. I hope you stay happy and healthy. But as some of us crawl towards Spring Break, some just hoping to make it to summer, send a kind thought our way.