A Day In the Life

“One extra degree makes all the difference.”

Here I was, sitting in a staff meeting, being told by the administration that I can achieve more if I’m willing to give just a little bit more of myself, and all I can think is, “I’ve got nothing left to give.” You’ve taken one of my days. You’ve taken my classroom.  You’ve taken my instructional time. I have given everything, and yet I haven’t received more of anything in return. Except maybe students. I have more students in each class, but I can’t see that as a good thing.

Let me back it up. The idea is, if you push yourself just one degree more, you can go from hot to boiling, and boiling produces steam, and steam powers locomotives, and that’s an awesome thing. Or something like that. Honestly, you lost me at boiling. Yes, if I’m pushed just one degree more, I will be boiling, because I’ve been pushed pretty far this year already, and I’m none to happy about it.

First, they cut one of my days because “our numbers are down.” Then, they took my classroom because “our numbers are up.” And then, they cut my class time by ten minutes, gave me more students per class, and put me in a room with two other teachers. Two full time teachers, mind you. And now I’m being told to give more. Just a little bit more will make all the difference. Success is right around the corner.

Another favorite talking point was eliminating wasted time, “where can you cut back on wasted time?” (Well, for starters, I could not be in this meeting. There’s an hour and a half of wasted time I’ll never get back). Believe it or not, if you cut out 30 minutes of screen time every day, and put that time towards something more productive, like work, that equals 7,568 hours, which equals 4 1/2 solid weeks of time you could be using for work.* Think about that. Just thirty minutes a day. Because we all have that kind of time to spare, right?

I know this is supposed to be motivational. I get it, and maybe I could see the bigger picture here if it didn’t feel like I was being sh*t on, excuse my French. What I’m seeing though, the story I’m telling myself, is that I’m unnecessary, my class is wasted time**, and cuts must be made for the greater good in order to achieve success. Maybe I do see the big picture after all.

What kind of motivational nonsense have you had to sit through?

You better believe I was experiencing the 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief

*My numbers are suspect. I wasn’t really paying attention.

**Kid you not, this is basically what I was told when I questioned why art classes were being reduced by ten minutes.

A Day In the Life

The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief

Staff meetings. So much fun. So productive. So relevant. So not true.

Back to school time is upon us. The emails are already blowing up my inbox. I’m heading into a week of meetings, professional development and various training sessions. Maybe, like me, you approach these days with refreshed optimism. Oh, how quickly it fades.The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief www.athglitter.comBe strong, friends. Soon enough the students will be coming through those doors and all that training information, all those “important” handouts, will be forgotten in the bottom of our teacher bags, buried under SMARTR goals, assessments and learning objectives.

A Personal Note: It appears I am “back”. Time will tell if it sticks. These past two years (and of course, by “years,” I’m speaking in terms of school years) have really put me through the ringer, to say the least. If art teachers really do have expiration dates, I may be nearing mine soon, but until then, I’m still here. I’m back, and it’s good to see you again, friends.

I’ll be returning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest soon, so don’t forget to follow me.

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A Day In the Life

How To Survive Back-to-School Professional Development

NOTE: This post was supposed to be published a couple of weeks ago, but evidently I forgot to schedule it, so it’s been sitting around, waiting for it’s moment to shine. I know it’s a little outdated, and probably irrelevant now, but let’s give it its moment, ‘kay?

It’s that time of year again. Back to school! Time to sit through hours of meetings and professional development while reminiscing about the good ole days when you used to sit by the pool, or go camping, or take a trip to the post office at 10:00 AM, on a Tuesday. Ah, those were the days. And to think, it was just a couple of weeks ago. *Sigh*

Fear not! I present to you, my tried and true tips for surviving back-to-school professional development.

Surviving back-to-school professional development www.athglitter.com

If you follow these 10 tried and true tips, I guarantee, you will survive those long, boring, tedious hours of professional development.

Have a great school year! I’m sure everything will go smoothly, and no one will throw you any unexpected bumps on your road to a productive school year.

What kind of painful PD did you have to endure this year?

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Dear Students: I Don't Know athglitter.com
Dear Students

Dear Students: I Don’t Know.

Dear Students,

I don’t know. I don’t know what we’re doing in art today. I don’t know when your clay piece will be out of the kiln. I don’t know where the pencils are, or the erasers. I don’t know whose paper this is. I don’t know why you didn’t put your name on it the last time I returned it to you with no name on it.

Dear Students: I Don't Know athglitter.com

I don’t know why your classmates are talking. I don’t know why no one can raise their hands. I don’t know where the pencil sharpener is, and I don’t know who broke the lead off inside of it.

I don’t know why there is water on your table. I don’t know who spilled paint on the floor. I don’t know who put the paint brush back dirty. I don’t know why it smells in here. Continue reading

In the Art Room

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make

Raise your hand if you maybe consider yourself a seasoned art teacher, but you still, maybe, make mistakes of a first year teacher. Me! Me! Me! There are still times, after almost ten years in the classroom, when I find myself shaking my head, thinking, “Why? Why? When will I learn?” I’m sure I’m not alone, right? Right…?

8 Rooie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comFor the life of me, I cannot figure out how my wardrobe has evolved into a collection of mostly black, white and grey clothing. I can only imagine it is because bright pops of color look much more vivid and striking against these neutrals. Unfortunately, art materials look striking against these colors as well. Paint, oil pastels, clay dust, burlap threads, marker, yarn fuzz… Until I can afford to replace my entire ensemble with busy, concealing, patterned clothing, I will continue walking around school with clay hand prints (my own) on my ass.

One of these days, I’m going to get my Art Teachers Hate Overalls Tumblr up and running again. It’s on my to-do list, because evidently I don’t already have enough on my plate.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comThis is probably rookie mistake 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comnumero uno, and yet, after 10 years in a classroom, I still forget that I need to model, model, model. Don’t get me wrong, I’m great at modeling a lesson, but when it comes to getting supplies out, or putting artwork away, or washing brushes, I fall short. I’m working on it though, because it means less work for me in the long run.

I’ve been streamlining my supply distribution and my new paint station this year, and it really helps. I have very little storage or flat surfaces in my current room, but I had a wall full of coat hooks. I dug out a whole stack of grocery store reusable beverage bags (ahem) and purchased (affiliate) these condiment bottles with some PTA money, and voila! A very functional paint station that the students know how to use! Because I modeled it for them. Many times.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comAt the beginning of the school year, I review classroom routines every single art class. This lasts for about the first quarter. Then I get lazy and assume students remember how to clean-up or line-up or move around the classroom. And then things fall apart. One of my evaluation goals this year is to really reinforce procedures and routines in my room. It helps. Things go so much more smoothly when we review.

A couple of summers ago, I took the Managing the Art Room course from AOE. It really helped me brush up my management skills, and introduced me to Clean-Up Maps and visuals for routines. So helpful!

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comSo. Many. Keys. I have six 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comdifferent keys on my ring this year. Different meaning they all open different doors, not that they all look different. I have no idea which key opens which door. I’m the fool that stands there, out in the cold, trying four different keys in the modular door before I find the right one. You would think that I would have found a way to label them by now, but nope. Still struggling.

I think I’m finally going to break down and buy some of those key cap things. Something like (affiliate) these or these, but these are super cute too.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comThere are only so many ways one can get around not calling a student by their first name. And I’ve used them all. Part of this has to do with my fear of mispronouncing their names. Yes, kids, even adults experience panic at the thought of public humiliation. Sure, I have no qualms about busting out my sick air guitar skills in the middle of third grade art, but, holy Hannah, don’t let me mispronounce “Mrudula” wrong. Again.

The other reason I don’t know anyone’s name is because I legit suck at remembering faces and names. Seriously, if you were to tell me that there was a real condition that made it gosh darn difficult to connect faces with names, I would jump up and down, hands in the air, declaring, “That’s me! That’s me!”

I know, there are many tricks out their for learning names, but the best solution I’ve come up with is taking attendance. Every day. Not only do I take attendance, I make sure to say each name out loud as I’m looking at the student. Confession: this is one of those things I’m really good at for one or two quarters, and then I start getting lazy, neglect to connect names with faces, or stop taking attendance altogether, and then I legit forget students’ names.

I actually use an app, TeacherKit, that allows me to take attendance and make seating charts WITH student pictures (with permission, of course). It has a lot of other cool features, but I mostly use it for attendance, seating charts and behavior.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comWhy do I keep doing this!? 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comI suppose I just expect that our paper towel dispenser will be well stocked. I should know better. One of these days I’m going to do what all of you smart people do, and request extra rolls for my room. It’s on my to-do list.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comIf you send one, you gotta send them all. Amiright?  I should really stop letting students use the bathroom during art class. It is SO disruptive, and as soon as one hears someone has to go, they all have to go. I’m very nervous about not letting students use the bathroom though, especially after this incident, about 12 years ago!

So, I came up with a new bathroom rule this year, no bathroom passes during the first ten minutes, or the last ten minutes, of art (and definitely not during demonstration time). It’s working. I find most students need to use the bathroom during instruction time or clean-up time. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Students rarely ask to use the bathroom while they are actually engaged and working, and if they do, I can usually tell it’s a legit emergency.

It should be noted, these passes don’t actually travel to the bathroom with students, they’re placed at students’ empty seats. We have a rule that kids go to the bathroom in boy/girl pairs, but I think I might get (affiliate) these for next year, because I do break therule from time to time.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com“Any questions? Yes, Johnny.” 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make“This one time, I think it was last week, or maybe yesterday, my cat threw up in our kitchen, and then started licking it, and…” Hands start shooting up around the room. Johnny got to tell a story! I need to tell a story! Nooooooooo….

I fall for this one every time. Every time. Especially with the younger kids. I see my students once a week, and they genuinely get excited to share their lives with me, and I want them to, it’s just, we don’t have time. If you let one, you gotta let them all. Amiright? I try to get the students to save their stories for work time. Most of the time, they forget about them, but not always. I do love hearing their stories.

What are some rookie mistakes you still find yourself making? Let me know in the comments!

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