Tuesday, May 31, 2011

dada, drama, dada

(Morris Louis...pretty)

No, no new lessons or photos to post today...things are winding down in the art room. I only see the k-5's till the end of this week so we have been spending our last classes together finishing up projects that never got done and making some simple optical illusions that I won't even bother posting because tons of other blogs have already shown them.

(student 1: was that dude on crack or meth? student 2: they didn't have meth back then you idot. I bet it was acid...right? Me: ugggg )

I'm dragging my middle school students through a 6 day crash course in art history from the 1800's to modern day. They are highly entertained/baffled by the art we look at ( today was Dada, surrealism and action Jackson and did-did they have some strong opinions about them!) They are less amused by the daily notes/question sheet they have to complete and they are mediocre on the studio lesson that is going along with the history component. I'll post photos of those next week.

As for me, I decided to go ahead and interview for the job I wanted. Also after talking with my two friends who are lawyers they told me NOT to mention I was pregnant during the interview as this could make a messy legal situation for everyone.

So I applied to the job and was called in for an interview that I went to this afternoon. I could not tell you how it went if I had too. Each interview lasts only 25min and has 7 questions leaving me only about 3 min to ask a few questions I needed answers to. The strangest part, and this was true when I interviewed to switch schools last year, they could care less about seeing my student art samples. Your interviewing an art teacher for gods sake! This year I had the common sense to pull out a few samples that went along with the "example of a successfully lesson" they always ask you to describe. Still, I offered to send a powerpoint with sample photos and they were kind but not interested. I have no clue if that means they are not interested in seeing samples or if they are not interested in ME. I guess I'll know by Friday.

If my current principal and VP have ANY say in anything I will not be switching schools. They have been incredibly unprofessional towards me once they found out I wanted to interview at the other school. I have been bullied, guilt tripped and even had my husbands job threatened (in a weird round about way) as they have attempted to keep me from going to interview. I'll maybe go more in debth about that at a later date. Too bad for them, each time they harass me I get more determined to switch schools.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

200 readers and big changes on the way

Wow 200 people follow my blog now? This time last year I think maybe 50 people read my blog. I think that really shows how powerful blogging is for art teachers who often feel isolated. The Internet and blogs are such a valuable resource for me. I know my lessons have improved immensely since I can draw from others. I still feel sooooo lucky to live in this digital age and feel I am a better teacher for what the Internet and digital media can offer me.

The one drawback to my increased readership is I no longer feel comfortable writing about my personal teaching life. Why? Well a mixture of being self conscious, being a little creeped out at that many strangers knowing my business and being realistic that people seem to be looking for lesson ideas not my commentary on teaching.

But I'm going to indulge myself for this post and talk about my personal life. With 3 weeks left this year I can say this has been my hardest year of teaching so far. While I feel like my teaching and my classroom management have improved a ton over the last five years I also feel incredibly burnt out. From the sudden death of my dad this fall, to demand of teaching 8 classes a day to 9 grade levels while juggling extreme student management issues ....I end this year wondering if I am meant to keep teaching.

I know my current school is not a good match for me but somehow I have avoided the cuts AGAIN and have been rehired at .8 for next year. I'm not ungrateful. I know I am damn lucky to have a job year after year. I am not naive. I know teaching is challenging everywhere.
But I am also realistic, I know my teaching site and arrangement is particularly challenging and not where I see myself in the future.
sometimes I feel like this dude...

Now a new opportunity is presenting itself. I am off probation in my district. I have a shot at transferring schools and there is a teaching position open at my dream school. A position teaching just middle school at a nice school, with nice students and supportive parents and a strong commitment to the arts. I want to move to this school so badly that I could cry.

So why am I not running to apply...well I happen to be 4 months pregnant! Do a little math and I will be having my first child in very early November:) And yes I plan on taking my 12 weeks of maternity leave. Even though the new position if half time (which would be perfect for going back to work after maternity leave!) I can't imagine what school is going to want to hire a teacher who is going to be gone for 12 weeks in the middle of the year.
(now I can make these for my own baby!)

I'm not showing at all (that is another story of intense morning sickness and weight loss) and I know I don't HAVE to tell them during the interviewee that I am pregnant. But I am a the type of person who will tell. It will not be the first thing out of my mouth but I feel strongly that I need to tell them. Showing up in August, 8 months pregnant, and saying "oh by the way..." is not how you build trusting, long term relationships.

The few coworkers I have discussed this with tell me I either have to keep it a secret during the hiring process or I stand no chance. I am so torn between my what I feel is the right thing to do and my intense desire to at least be considered for the new position....what would you do?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

kings, queens and the other dude

to wrap up our middle ages unit students either turned a photo of themselves or an imaginary king, queen or jack/joker/"other dude" (that will make sense in a few photos) in a playing card.

This year I agreed to let students draw a person if they really didn't like their own photo. This lead to a mixed bag of results...from playing cards where you can easily ID the student to some cartoon like people.
(this is really cool when you can see the detail...click to enlarge)

In the future I will do this project earlier in the year when the kids have more patience. I feel a lot of the work is cute but could have been better executed. As I've mentioned I'm having a really, really, hard time motivating my current 6-8th class to do the level of work I know they are capable of.
(good example...except why is his neck yellow?)

Anyway if you would like to do this project first print a photo of each student and have them trace the contours of their face/shoulders with a markers directly onto the photo or have them draw a head and shoulders of a person. (This was a good review of contour line drawing) Then have the student add accessories that make their person (or self) more regal. Crowns, scepter, capes, fancy clothes... spears....
(the "other dude...a palace guard I believe)

then using a tracing method of your choice (we used some carbon paper I found) trace the image onto a large sheet of paper 2 times. Make sure to flip and center the image for the second tracing.

go over your lines with sharpie and then add color using the media of your choice. I asked students to stick the primary colors and black, white and brown. Some followed that direction and some didn't.
(even in cartoon her sassy personality shows through;)
Last add the Q or K or J and the suit of your card in the upper and lower corner and mount the finished work on black paper.
part of the assignment was mixing the paint or colored pencils to match each students skin color...not easy when you have over 20+ nationalities in your school
rock on! I'm the king!
shy in real life and shy in her drawing

No matter how basic the drawing these look great in the hall and are getting positive reviews form the staff around the school. Just a fun twist on a self portraiture project.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

dragons, dragons, dragons

After a few months I have found my camera battery charger so now I can update my blog again! So let's go back about 7 weeks and remember my 6th-8th graders were look at medieval art. First we made our cool foil illuminated letters and next came a classic medieval mythical creature...the dragon. We looked at some medieval art with dragons and other mythical creatures and talked about their religious and cultural symbolism in medieval art.

After some time with guided drawings and how to draw sheets we created dragons in icy caves (a project influenced by a lesson from the book Dynamic Art Lessons for Children.

The dragons were colored with either metallic tempera paint, markers or colored pencils. Then the dragons were cut out and glued onto black construction paper and added a cave made from watercolor markers brushed with clear water.

aside from the one girl who throws a fit unless she gets to do the project "HER way!"

some were fierce
and some were cute
The big kids ended up liking their dragons and the K-5's adore them and are constantly choosing their favorite. Oh and we looked at a few photos from the movie How to Train your Dragon for some ideas, I guess my middle school students love the movie! Next up king, queen and joker playing cards.