A Day In the Life

A Scene From the First Day of Art Class

FADE IN:

INT. ART ROOM – AFTER LUNCH

(Ms. ATHG, 4th Grade students-green group, 4th Grade students A, B, C & D, Mr. PE)

MS. ATHG IS STANDING AT THE FRONT OF THE ROOM. 4TH GRADE STUDENTS- GREEN GROUP ARE SEATED AT TABLES, LOOKING AT MS. ATHG.

MS. ATHG

(TO STUDENTS) Good afternoon, 4th grade artists! Welcome to art! Wow, the green group is pretty big this year, huh? Well, with this many students… how many of you are there again? [TAKES A HEAD COUNT OF STUDENTS] Wow, 28, okay, yeah, with this many students…

4TH GRADE STUDENTS A & B ENTER THE ROOM.

MS. ATHG

(TO STUDENTS A & B) Oh, hey, are you part of the green group too? Okay, well, there are a couple of chairs left, just take a seat. (TO STUDENT GROUP) So, okay, 30 students then. With this many students…

4TH GRADE STUDENT C ENTERS THE ROOM.

MS. ATHG

(TO STUDENT C) Oh, okay, one more, well… [LOOKS AROUND ROOM. PULLS TEACHER CHAIR OUT] Here, you can sit here for now. (TO STUDENT GROUP) So, as I was saying, things are going to be a little tight this year, but I know we can make it work. I’m very excited to be in this new space, and…

MR. PE OPENS DOOR, POPS HEAD IN AS STUDENT D ENTERS ROOM

MR. PE

(TO MS. ATHG) Um, I think this one belongs to you. Sorry. [EXITS ROOM, SHEEPISHLY]

MS. ATHG

(TO SELF. WHILE LOOKING AROUND CLASSROOM) I’m gonna need a bigger boat.

END SCENE


I’m a few weeks into the new school year, and while I’m thrilled my schedule has a little wiggle room in it this year, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the high number of students in my classes. I follow many of you on various different social media sites, and I’m envious of some of your photos, showing what I can only assume is a respectable class size of 17 or 18 students. When I was teaching in NY, 22 students in one class was a large class. Now, teaching where I do, 25 or 26 students is considered a small class. Block scheduling is popular down here.  It’s no big deal to take the six classes that make up the 4th grade and divide them into four color groups for specials. 32 is too many for a general classroom teacher to have, but hey, it’s a-okay for specials. Yeah, right. It’s common practice to place all the IEP students in one classroom, presumably to make it easier to provide them with services. I get that, but this means that you’re sending specialists a class loaded with 10 IEP students. The classroom teacher never has all of these students in her classroom at one time, yet we’re expected to easily work with this highly needy group. A Kindergarten teacher has an aide to assist with the needs of a group of 26 brand-new students. This aide never makes it into our classroom.

But, hey, yeah, cool, I got this. I can totally provide meaningful instruction with exciting lessons and engaging projects to a group of 32 students. I can totally manage teaching and assisting the making of 32 coil pots in one session. Printmaking? Wire sculptures? Painting and weaving and stitching and cutting and gluing and sculpting? I got this. No problem.

Right?

Standard

12 thoughts on “A Scene From the First Day of Art Class

  1. LJ says:

    Most schools I’ve been in rearrange children into smaller classes for ‘practical’ subjects, especially high schools… who would have thought arranging elementary kids into bigger classes was a good idea?!?!

    Like

  2. Kathy Edger says:

    43! Yes I said 43 in each 4th grade classroom. I see the 4th grades three times a week! There are not enough chairs in the building. The principal came in and I had to explain why two students were on the floor, etc. We have 3 vacancies in my building.

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  3. Gurl. This is reeeee-dick-ulous. Why is what’s fair for the classroom teacher not applicable to the specials?! My largest class is closing in on 20 first graders…and I will no longer shudder at that number! Hats off to you because I KNOW you got this. Just Remember: Happy hour begins RIGHT after school on all days that end in y. xo!

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  4. Anna says:

    Yes, here in the Bay Area, the class sizes are from 1. to 3. grade, 24! Upper grades up to 34., TK (4 years old) 24 and last year I had a K class 33. They all go through the same program: painting, print making, clay, portraits etc. The table set ups and the turn over from class to class with not 5 minutes time between is unbelievable. You learn to work, wash brushes, clear tables fast! I have one good trick: I set up a long table for 24 kids in the back of the art room, so one group can paint and the next sits on the clean other 8 tables and paint. When the paintings on the long table are in the drying rack, I can set up already for the next group there. You learn to work fast! My art years have 460 (one year was 750 kids!), TK to 5th grade. I am the only art teacher.

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  5. I feel your frustration as I’m in a similar situation, large class sizes, integration…no help. I also teach medically and multiple disabled children…16 in one class (feeding tubes, screaming…etc) there are obviously nurses and some Para’s in that class however I have never been trained to teach this population! At the elementary level we are simply a teachers prep.

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  6. Kimberly says:

    I feel like I could have written your post! I have a very similar situation…30 fourth graders with eight of them having issues that range from behavioral issues to ADD, ADHD, etc. I am overwhelmed with having to deal with disciplinary problems and they are just out of control! I was wondering how you will adjust your lessons to work with a large group of this size? I’ve tried painting with them and it’s a nightmare! Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!

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  7. Pingback: How To Survive Back-to-School Professional Development | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

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