In the Art Room

Humor. It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses. Mostly It’s Not.

Here’s the thing about being funny, it ain’t easy. Maybe for some people it is, and I imagine those people live their lives as comedians and humor writers, but I’m just an art teacher, and truth be told, I’m not that funny.

There are no Band-Aids for hurt feelings

My humor comes from a dark place. Not the darkest of places, but a dark place nonetheless. It’s rooted in cynicism, bitterness and skepticism. I use humor to cope with undesirable situations. I use humor to connect with others and say the things that everyone else is afraid to say. We’re all thinking it, but no one would ever actually say these things that I say. These things are bold, they’re brash, a little offensive, often snarky and politically incorrect, but always truthful.

Take, for example, my 20 Things An Elementary Art Teacher Will Never Tell You post. This post is, by far, my most popular, most visited, and most commented on post. This post put me on the map, if you will. Why? Because deep down inside, most of you, dare I say all of you, can relate to this post. At one point or another, you have thought these things, but have never had the balls to say it out loud.

That’s where I come in. Safely hidden behind the curtain of anonymity provided by the big bad internet, I gather up all the balls and I say these things for you. Generally, we all have a good laugh, feel a little less alone in our deep down inside feelings, and get on with the rest of our days. Generally. Every now and again, someone who clearly doesn’t belong here, whether it’s because they have no sense of humor or because they aren’t an art teacher, wanders over to this bog. Maybe they got lost on their way to the glitter supply store, or maybe curiosity brought them. I don’t know. Regardless, they stop by and before they leave, they make sure to let me know exactly how offensive and horrible I am and that I must truly be a bad, bad person.

Most of the time I take a deep breath and forget these comments (but that doesn’t mean they don’t still sting a little. Believe it or not, as heartless as I am, I am still human), but lately, some comments have really gotten me down. Lately, some readers have been coming down on me not only as a person, but as a colleague. I won’t get into specifics because I feel as if I would be stooping to their level (but if you’re curious, I publish all comments, and you can go search them down yourself). I think the main reason these few attacks have hurt is because the authors have been so horribly wrong about me. I am not anything that they think I am.

I am a good person, a great teacher and an excellent colleague. I am also a blogger, and like any other blogger out there, I know how to spin my tale for the biggest impact with my audience. I don’t lie, but I know how to write a piece from a perspective or in a voice that will make what I’m saying really hit home. I often do this through snarky, bitter, brash, offensive humor, but this is not who I am in real life. I think most of you probably get that. I hope you do. My online persona is a version of me, but it is not the me that I offline. At least not entirely.

In real life, I’m happy. I love my job. I love my students. I love my colleagues. I genuinely have very few negative things to say about my colleagues, my students or my job. At this point in time, in my current situation, I have very, very little to complain about. I am very fortunate to be in this place. I am very grateful to be in this place, but happiness and job satisfaction don’t write a blog, at least not this one, so from time to time, I slip into the dark version of me and attempt to spit something out that might be entertaining to read. It wasn’t always like this. When I first created Art Teachers Hate Glitter, I was not in a good place. I had just experienced a few years working in a couple of hostile and unwelcoming work places. Going back to 20 Things An Art Teacher Won’t Tell You, I actually based that piece on those past experiences, which happened to be the only experiences I had working in education. I have since broadened my knowledge of what it can be like to work in education, and while yes, there is still a lot of truth to my 20 Things piece, I have also discovered that in some schools, nothing I said in that piece is true. Maybe I’ll revisit 20 Things someday and write a rebuttal to it, but right now, let me get to my ultimate point.

I’m a good person, and I’m happy. Being funny and maintaining the “voice” that you’ve been entertained by over the past few years is becoming harder and harder to do. As I put more distance between myself and the negative experiences I’ve had in education, I’m finding it more difficult to get in touch with the source of my humor. Add to that the harsh feedback I’ve received recently, and the fact that my students have apparently learned proper decorum and are no longer using my art room as a bathroom or relieving themselves of their undergarments, and my enthusiasm and energy for this blog is fizzling. I want to be funny. I want to draw you in and make you feel understood and less alone in the isolating position we have all taken on, but… eh…

I’m not going to give up blogging, but forgive me if my posts are few and far between for awhile. I love blogging. I love connecting with different art educators from around the world. I love hearing your feedback, and I love it when you share your painful, funny and oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-that-happened moments. I’ve developed numerous online relationships that I cherish, and I want to continue building on those. But… but… I need to recharge. I need to refocus. I need a moment to recover from the negativity that I’ve been replaying over and over again every time I sit down to write. Will this offend? Am I going too far? How will this be received? I just need some time to feel good about what it is I do again. Please excuse me while I take some time. Thank you.

NOTE: I wrote this prior to the AOE Winter 2014 Conference. I had a great time and truly enjoyed the conference. It felt great to interact with others via Twitter. I had a moment afterwards, in which I hesitated, and considered not publishing this, but I decided I needed to. The conference buzz is going to wear off, and in a week or two, I’ll be sitting in front of the computer, stressed over not being able to write, fearful of how what I write will be received. I want to thank all of you for your positive feedback after the conference. It has helped. Truly. Thank you.

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29 thoughts on “Humor. It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses. Mostly It’s Not.

  1. I shared your blog with people before I realized you are you because it's wonderful and reminds us all “it's not just me”. I hope you keep blogging and find your place of peace to write and post regardless of what anyone other than you feels about it. Remembering the person, not just ATHG, I know it's challenging (it is for me too) but I really hope you keep at it. Some situations call for snark. Some are just daily boring stories. People who have worked with children, who have worked at schools, who are decent people, they know that and should remember that. If they don't – they can F off. Really. They are the jerks who call the police because your kid is playing in your yard unattended, or blame you for their child coming home with a cold. Don't let the jerks win – we outnumber them ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • Hey, go back and read the positive comments and then read them again!!! You have like 2 or 3 that are not supportive- do NOT FOCUS on those people!!! So many folks found these funny and ring true. If I don’t find something that is true, i just go on and read the next one- my goodness people are judgemental. And it is also pretty damn easy to criticize over the internet. It is pretty cowardly. So GIRL- don’t let these people defeat you!!
      If you are in a better work situation and you don’t have the dark side to spur your humor, slightly shift your voice if you need to. Life is a process.
      A personal quick story- someone has found it necessary to criticize me and some of my posts and pictures on my blog and facebook. Like this person sent me an anonymous letter saying among other things that I shouldn’t be plastering my personal life all over facebook—– yeah let that sink in a moment. Like WTF and GFY!! It bothered me like crazy for several days, but you know what, this person will not get me down and will not dictate my life. Whoever it is needs a life of their own. Teachers seem to have a nice little target on their back, the populace seems to feel free to criticize and hold us up to a different standard.
      Hang in there and rock on!!!

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  2. I just read the 20 things post and all of the comments. I was disappointed at the negative comments that were posted. Those 'teachers' obviously didn't realize that: 1. only an art teacher (or other extra curricular class teachers) can really relate to all of these 'thoughts'. 2. These are your truths, as you experienced them. 3. It is snarky humor…which is funny and a relief for art teachers to read.
    As a retired secondary art teacher of 29 years, I can completely relate to most of your experiences. (I never taught art in elementary…God bless you and all elementary art teachers!) HS has many new challenges called teenagers! Ha…that could be an interesting post! I do know that after 29 years, it was enough to drive me almost crazy…BUT I loved teaching those students! I can say… enjoy not being invited to those curriculum meetings! I was required to go to those weekly meetings for the last few years of my career, and it just took me out of my room and my planning, organizing, grading, cleaning, grading, cleaning, …you get the point. And don't get me started on Common Core!
    I also wanted to tell you to not let those 'angry and offended' comments bother you. I finally learned, at 50, I can't please everyone and it's OK!
    It is your blog, say what you feel. And if you don't feel like saying anything, that's ok too. But I have enjoyed reading your blog for awhile now and I HATE Glitter too! Always have, always will! I thought something was wrong with me, but now I know…it's ok!

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  3. You know already that I think you are fabulous. You have always said the things many of us are too chicken to say, and I, for one, find it delightful. I feel like those of us who 'get it' do indeed know who you are, can feel the love for your students beneath the snark, and know that we have to laugh our way through the tougher moments in life. I'm with you 100%. You rock, Ms. ATHG!

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  4. Erica says:

    I read some of the comments recently written to you about being angry and not seeing what it is like for other teachers. Why do people stop their day to tell you this? God only knows. You are taking a risk as an artist when you write anything publically. It is nice to hear you are in a better working environment and so it will be hard for you to find content for future posts, but don't take a small amount of criticism as a sign to shut up and put the keyboard away. You need to assume you are going to offend if you do anything worth interest. Look at this as an artistic journey. I am an art teacher. I get it. I really enjoy your blog. I have had blogs for years. My most recent one was about raising a son with autism, but after reading some interesting posts I decided to quit. I started to wonder how he would feel about being blogged about. I started to wonder how that negativity (of dealing with diagnosis) was feeding other parents feelings regarding the topic.
    What I like about your blog is that no one else (that I have found) is willing to write about this. Sure, teaching math or reading or whatever has it's challenges. Fine, whatever. This is not your audience. Someone else is writing that blog. I think it's mature of you to ignore and realize that most appreciate having someone say what we are all thinking. I think we have one of the best jobs in the world, but it's still a job at the end of the day. There is humor, joys, and really crappy days that we all have permission to vent about.

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  5. I had a co-worker who I struggled to enjoy my first year of teaching. He would come into the lunchroom and gripe and complain and pick on students. However he quickly became one of my favorite people. I quickly realized that he was venting in a safe place so that he could be amazing at his job. I realized this when one of his most frequently complained about students said to me, “Mr. M is my favorite teacher.” This student had NO IDEA how frustrating he was to Mr. M because Mr. M had the ability to get the frustration out. I appreciate your blog for giving all of us the “ah, I am not alone in the art teacher world with how I feel” reads and laughs. Please don't let the the haters get you down. They are probably over eager first year teachers who haven't spent enough time in the trenches to know how life “really is.” ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I couldn't agree with K Wray any more! I hope you can find a peaceful place where you can be you but also be the snarky, sarcastic blogger. I know the comments that are negative sting and make you question — but also look at ALL the posts from art teachers who said, “Yup, been there” or “I needed a laugh” or “Thank goodness I'm not alone”. You are a voice for our inner art teacher – the inner frustrated art teacher that can't vent to anyone in the staff lounge because they are all general education teachers. I actually had a 2nd grade teacher in my building the other day (at my school for the arts) remark on how 'lucky' I was that I only taught art – that I don't have to plan lessons every few days. I was so shocked I couldn't even come up with a retort. I left the room furious! I may have to only plan lessons every few days but I also see 800 students A WEEK – most, if not all, I know by name and could tell you something about them: a favorite color, medium, about their new dog, how many teeth they lost this week, what they got for Christmas, the kids that need to be tough loved, the ones that need a whisper in the ear, the kid that needs every ounce of positive praise you can manage, which kids really do need to pee when they ask and who just wants to wander the building, which kids need to be sat by an exit point so they can feel they have an out when they are frustrated, the kids that need to be sat far from the door so they don't 'run', the kid that hates using sharpie because it gives him 'the tingles', the kid your provide babywipes for because they HATE having even marker on their hands — I could go on.

    So while I understand your need to recharge and even respect it – please look at ALL the art teachers you help connect, support, keep perspective, and even help us recharge through humor. So, take your time – I hope you come back with a renewed spirit. I need you and your snarkyness – I need someone to understand that I don't 'just teach art' that my job isn't 'just fun' and that sometimes trash is just trash and NOT something the art teacher wants or needs.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I actually posted that list (which I looove) to a facebook group for “kick-ass” teachers…apparently the members lacked a sense of humor. This one teacher repeatedly berated me and encouraged others to do so until I was forced to leave the group. Truly, few understand the plight of an art teacher and I like it better that way but pretty please DON”T STOP BLOGGING!

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  8. Dear ATHG, while I respect your need for healing and space, please let your heart hear another little voice (from the tip of Africa no less!) telling you that I need your blog, your snark and wit and humour help keep me a little saner when it feels like no-one else could ever understand. You have all my respect and admiration….. now go hear your kids say “I love art” and know that all of it is worth it for those 3 words.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I'm a 'regular' classroom teacher (though responsible for teaching the art curriculum to my class, hence why I came across your blog). I found what you'd written so amusing and encouraging (even though I'm not an art specialist) that I've been reading it ever since. I don't think your '20 Things' post is offensive and I hope you keep blogging!

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  10. Sorry to hear you're feeling down. From past posts and comments it seems a lot of art teachers can relate to what you write. I don't know why people bother to leave rude comments! Good luck. We all need a break sometime.

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  11. LOL!! I love your blog! Maybe what you need is a little glitter in your life ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I teach High School Art and LOVE me some glitter! Anyway, this post isn't about glitter just thought I would bring it up! haha!
    So I love your blog!!!…even if you hate glitter (I sucked it up and read past the sparkle prejudice). Don't worry what others think or say. I feel that way too many people that blog tend to only blog through rose colored glasses. They put up this whole front and make you think that there is never a bad lesson, bad student, or bad day in their classes. Well, crap…what planet are they teaching on???
    There are days when I want to lose it (today I growled at my High Schoolers and told them not to say my name for the next 20 minutes and to use “Ask 3 Before Me” before I lost it).
    It happens, it's life, and using humor (even better, sarcastic humor) helps us get through it. I for one love that you are so real, and I never once thought that you weren't a good teacher, or didn't love your kids.
    Remember,
    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” -Dr. Seuss
    Keep up the good work, and the funny blogging. I know after a day of herding cats…oh, I mean teaching…I love to read your blog!

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  12. There's a reason you were voted #1 Art Ed blog of the year. DO NOT STOP WRITING! People who sit behind a computer and write nasty things are cowards. You are brave and speak the truth, the funny truth. Ignore them and do what you love. We will love you for it.

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  13. Sherry Saunders says:

    I hope you continue. While you may be in a better place, there are many of us who aren’t and love knowing someone understands. I really appreciate that someone had the gumption to speak the truth where others could see it and maybe learn to view art teachers with a little more respect. We really need you.

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  14. People who don’t understand sarcasm take all the fun out of being sarcastic don’t they? You are exactly who and where and what you are supposed to be and you are lovely.

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  15. Pingback: 20 Things An Elementary Art Teacher Will Never Tell You | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

  16. J.D. Gordon says:

    Hi, Don’t know your name and I live on the other side of the world from you, But I think you should just create an avatar and write, write, write. That 20 points took balls and a ballsy voice is like hens teeth on the internet and every time I come across one , 1 of three things happen- I find the writer is just a troll-a hater and that’s for, well not me. 2 the writer is a fake- easy to spot the one who just takes issue with everything , or 3 they lose their balls,as you are doing here… however if you create a different identity I will really be a great fan, please let me know when you are going to give that dark voice some air- I crave it, you have darkness in you but it is a true and profound voice… very, very rare.Thank you.

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  17. I just found your blog today, and it’s my new favorite. I’m an art educator in a non-profit setting, and totally relate to all the things you post on here. It’s tough to be taken seriously sometimes, especially when sometimes all we can do is use snarky humor and sarcasm to make it through the day. Keep writing, please! It’s good to know we’re not the only ones going through the same crazy situations every day. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. Pingback: Happy New Year: A 2014 Summary | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

  19. Keep sending out the “truth”! We art teachers share your sense of humor and love reading it! The rest can go read about “cats and coffee” or some other shitty starter/boredom blogger.

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  20. Amyh says:

    Just a quick reminder if you forgot ‘ maybe a little poke to shake u out of it … You have spoken to me before and make me laugh out loud! Often I feel so alone being an elementary art teacher … No teaching partners … No one to really get what I do. For example I had my principal ask me two days before my evaluation how do u grade? With the follow up …. Wait for it …. You do grade the art right? Alli could do is stand there and with a long pause say … Yes ! Well it’s that snarky side of u that I wish was there to answer his question ! Sooooo happy content

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  21. Thank you for this. I wish I knew who you were… I feel like I should or might. Or maybe I am just not clicking on a link that would tell me.

    I presented at the AOE conference this winter so maybe you remember me. I poop rainbows for flipped teaching.

    I have been think about starting a video blog/ podcast and I just wanted to thank you for your blog. Reading your blog always makes me feel normal.

    Summer is coming.
    Johanna

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  22. Lorraine says:

    I don’t think I’ve met you (?) but we surely “know” each other. Your voice is real, and as you said, often art teachers are alone in their school- or in several schools. You give voice to what many feel, and validate experiences that drive many of us crazy but that we hesitate to mention (we have a job, how could we be ungrateful or ungracious ?) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being real!

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  23. Artbugg says:

    I too am an art teacher and love your blog. People sometimes forget that like our students there are many different types of teachers… and our job is to not step on eachothers toes but stand together because lets face it classroom teachers don’t get it:) keep trucking and ignore the bad press.

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    • I’m so glad you found your way here. Do you remember who re-posted my work? I’d like to add them to my feature section. It’s hard being in two schools, and 40 classes is a lot. Best of luck to you!

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