A Day In the Life, Gripes

Even This Post Is A Contradiction. I think.

Sometimes it seems that teachers are some of the most hypocritical people on the planet.

“Please let him be absent today, PLEASE!”

“I cannot believe his parents took him out of school for such a mundane reason. Of all students, he most certainly should not be missing school.”

I imagine, at times, it must feel impossible to please a teacher.

“I absolutely cannot make it to any more meetings. I have too much to do.”

“I cannot believe I wasn’t invited to that meeting.”

It appears, that unless it was our idea, no matter the situation, we just cannot get on board.

“You absolutely cannot have my class for an extra rehearsal. I need the instructional time.”

“You absolutely cannot expect me to keep my class then. I need the planning time.”

I mean, even when we get what we asked for, we’re still not satisfied.

“Why can’t the administration take art and music more seriously like they do the other subjects? We’re just as important as other classroom teachers. We work just as hard. Why can’t we be treated the same?”

“Why can’t the administration just leave us alone? Art and music are so different than other subjects. They can’t put us in the same category. They can’t expect us to do the same things.”

To the outside world, teachers must appear to be the most contradictory people in the professional world.

“I cannot believe the district refuses to provide us with decent professional development during our contract hours. Don’t they know how hard it is to do that on my own?”

“I cannot believe the district expects us to attend this seminar. Don’t they know I have work to do in my classroom?”

I can almost see why so many people don’t get us.

“I cannot wait for the school year to start so I can get back into my classroom where I belong!”

“I cannot wait for the summer to get here so I can have a break from the classroom!”

It’s almost as if our working lives are filled with so much discord that we unknowingly slip into a state of contradiction whenever we talk about work.

“I love my job so much. Working with kids is so rewarding and important and noble. I know that I’m making a difference in my students’ lives.”

“I hate my job so much. I’m just a glorified babysitter. The kids don’t care, the parents don’t care, the administrators don’t care. It’s all about tests, tests, tests. I’m not making any kind of difference.”

Really, though, you would think, listening to teachers, that the field of education is filled with only the whiniest, most indecisive, laziest, most uncaring professionals out there.

“I spent three hours last night grading work, but I promised my students they’d get it back today, and they were really looking forward to it, so…”

“Yeah, I’m taking a course this summer, it’s kind of expensive, but I really think it’ll help me professionally,and I know I can use it in my classroom, so…”

“I really wanted to take it easy this weekend, but I had to set up for that art show, and the students were really excited about it, so…”

“I had to come in early this morning and meet with his parents, but I really think we’re turning a corner here, so…”

In conclusion, teachers are a bucket of contradictions, never happy with anything and ridiculously hard to please. Not to mention we don’t care about anything or anyone. So to all the teachers out there, don’t worry, there’s only about a month left of this waste of a school year, and then you can begin your summer vacation. Just one more month and then you can begin that second (third?) job, attend those seminars, take those grad courses and create those lesson plans, you lazy punks.
Thank goodness we don’t work year round, huh?
A Day In the Life, Gripes

A Parody. If you will.

FirstGraders. FirstGrade-ers. Calm-challenged carriers of chaos. Innocent, distract-ed, clamorous hellions. Un-learn… ing. Un-work… ing. Un-able… ed? “I need that back,” he howled into her right ear like a garbageman going to a trashcan that has no garbage… except the rubbish of his art. I am foiled. It’s really hard. This parody… sucks.
A Day In the Life, Gripes

It’s All Fun and Games, Until Someone Pulls the Love Card

Twice a year, I bust out a popular boxed drawing game to play with my students. The last week of school happens to be one of the times I bring this game out. The students love it, I get a kick out of it, and good fun is had by all. Until this week. If you follow Art Teachers Hate Glitter on Facebook, then you’ve already heard part of the story. Here’s what I posted earlier this evening:

For Your Consideration: It’s the last day of art and you’re playing a Pictionary-esque game with your AP 3rd grade class. You pull a subject card that reads, “Gym teachers in love.” Do you,

a) think it’s silly and let your students draw it because it’s all in good fun and they’ll get a kick out of it, or

b) think it’s inappropriate and controversial and banish it to the back of the box?

The responses were essentially divided into two camps, what’s-the-big-deal, and why-poke-the-bear, which is exactly what I expected. As you can probably expect, there’s more to the story than the small little blurb I posted to Facebook.

I play a modified version of the Pictionary-style game, (affiliate) Luck of the Draw, with my 3rd-6th graders. The students are given a subject, which I read from a card I’ve pulled out of the “subject” box (pre-selected for comprehension and maximum humor). They then have a minute to draw the subject. After the minute, the drawings are shared with their table anonymously (or as anonymously as elementary students can be). The students then vote for the drawing that they feel best fits a selected category card. It’s silly, it’s fun, and students of all artistic abilities have a chance of getting their drawings selected as a “winner”. For the last round of the game, I like to select a really fun subject that will get the students roaring with laughter. Sometimes it’s “hamsters juggling,” sometimes it’s “a moose in the house,” and sometimes, it’s “gym teachers in love.”

Until this week, it never occurred to me that “gym teachers in love” was an inappropriate or controversial subject to give students to draw. The response to this subject has always been giggles, mixed with some “ews” and drawings that show two adults with hearts over their heads. Well, for the first time ever, a student took this somewhere it shouldn’t have gone. Somewhere I never expected a third grader to take it, and in surprisingly shocking detail. It was a big deal. Administration and counselors got involved. It was ugly.

I later approached the AP who handled this situation to find out how things had ended. The whole thing had been very emotional, I was actually very upset by the ordeal, and I wanted to make sure that the student was okay. Little did I know, but I was about to be thrown under the bus.

It was suggested that I was to blame for why the drawing was made, which, okay, had I not chosen that subject, the picture never would have happened. Fair enough, but in my mind, there was a bigger issue at hand.

Why is a third grader drawing such detailed images that are not developmentally appropriate for his age?

It quickly became evident that I was the only one who felt that this was the most pressing concern. It was suggested that the subject I asked the students to draw was inappropriate because of everything kids see on TV nowadays. Apparently “love,” something that we teach our children about since the day they are born, something that is interwoven into many human relationships, is a rated R topic. You know, because that’s what kids see on TV, that ever present instigator and fall-guy for every bad thing anyone anywhere has ever done*.

It was implied that the subject was controversial because gym teachers are often accused of doing bad things. Hold the phone. So, if the subject had been “science teachers in love,” or “music teachers in love,” that would have been okay? So, because the subject was specifically about gym teachers, in love, that automatically pushes it into unsafe territory? Why, because gym teachers are evil and dangerous? What, are gym teachers not allowed to be in love? What if it had just been “gym teachers”? Or “in love”? What if I had asked students to draw “love”? Would that be wrong too?

Since when has “love” become an inappropriate and controversial thing to talk about and ask our students to consider in their art work? I ask students to draw family portraits. Is this inappropriate because bad things often happen in families? I ask students to draw pictures of themselves with a friend. We discuss relationships and body language and how you can tell that two people are friends just by looking at them. Kids draw themselves with their arms around their friends. They draw themselves holding hands. Is this inappropriate?

I’m still confused by the backlash that occurred because of this one drawing that this one student drew. I’m shocked that anyone would suggest that I’m asking my students to do inappropriate things. I’m amazed that the focus has been turned around on me and taken away from the student who could really use some attention and help.

I think I just got my first real taste of the anti-teacher vibe that exists now. If this is truly the state of education, that teachers are blamed for the actions of their students, then I don’t know if I want to be a part of that anymore.

What are your thoughts?

*It’s interesting to note that while I wrote this, the TV was on and a commercial came on about Love. The commercial showed many different demonstrations of people showing love for each other, and it was all rated G. Or maybe hugging and kissing children and grandparents is PG? R? I just don’t know anymore.

A Day In the Life, Gripes

I Know Why the Art Teacher Cries

… because of paper cuts. And cardboard cuts.
… because she just sat in a puddle of water. Again.
… because it’s only Wednesday, but it has felt like Thursday for two days now.
… because she just stepped in green paint. Again.
… because her clock won’t stop buzzing, no matter how many times she beats it.
… because working in a tiny octagonal room with no windows and 30 sixth graders triggers her claustrophobia.
… because she’s on bus duty and has realized that she left her gloves inside.
… because she’s on her way to her car and has realized that her gloves have been in her pocket all along.
… because a 1st grader corrected her math.
… because a 1st grader corrected her spelling.
… because the Monster Mug she made looks less “monster” and more like something that could be questioned as, um, racist.
… because a 2nd grader mocked her.
… because her last class was a Level Three on the chocolate recovery scale.
… because she forgot to fire the clay pieces her 4th graders were supposed to glaze.
… because of the email from THAT parent.
… because of the other email from that other parent.
… because ________________________________.