Behind the Scenes

Taking A Brief Hiatus.

On a personal note, which is not my usual M.O., my daughter is having surgery, nothing too serious, but I’ll be taking a brief, 2-3 week hiatus from the blog in order to focus on her and a couple of other things that have cropped up in my life right now.


I’ll still have a presence on Instagram, but you’ll probably notice fewer posts from me on Facebook. Now, enough of that. See you all back here in a few weeks.


Be sure to keep in touch with ATHGlitter via Instagram.

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A Day In the Life

Lessons I Learned From Art on a Cart

During SOL testing, I spent three weeks as “art on a cart.” I was aware going into it to it that it would be challenging, but also temporary, and I knew that I could make it work*.  During my brief time on a cart, I learned some useful lessons.

Keep the mediums to a minimum. I knew that the only way I could survive having limited access to my room and my supplies, meaning no restocking the cart during the day, was to limit the different mediums I used. Thankfully, I planned ahead and timed stitching and weaving to occur during SOL testing. My first three classes worked on stitching and weaving, and my lasartcartt two classes of the day worked on various different paper strip projects. With careful planning and a well organized cart, I was able to have all of the supplies I needed for the entire day on one cart. This definitely wouldn’t have been possible had I been using multiple mediums throughout the day.

Do not assume students will have basic supplies in their classrooms. I made a point of checking with classroom teachers to see what kind of basic supplies students had in their desks (pencils, crayons, scissors). Thankfully it worked out that students already had these supplies, so I didn’t have to worry about hauling them to the classroom myself, but I’m sure it’s not always the case in every classroom, especially at this time of year. Unfortunately, I neglected to think of myself, and was left scrambling for basic supplies while demonstrating the project to students. Evidently, not all teachers keep a small bin of Sharpies, pencils, a pair of scissors, a ruler, crayons and a glue stick on hand for demonstrations. Who knew?

My house, my rules. I have done a lot of subbing in my time. When a sub is present, many students have the knee-jerk reaction of who are you to tell me what to do? Feathers can get ruffled, chaos can ensue. It’s expected when you’re a sub. You’re on their turf, there’s going to be a bit of a power struggle. I did not expect this to happen while on a cart, but it did. I naively thought I could seamlessly carry my art room rules into the students’ classroom. I was wrong. Like art teachers, classroom teachers work hard to build routines. They have their own rules (or lack thereof). Students learn, in this room, we do things this way. In one particular classroom, I found that the classroom teachers’ rules were a little more loosey goosey than mine. All of a sudden I have students getting up to get drinks or use the bathroom without permission, “but, Mrs. Carter** let’s us…” I found it difficult to establish authority in another teacher’s room, although I already had it in my classroom. It was especially difficult if the teacher remained in the room during art. It was an unexpected challenge.

A change of scenery can do you good. The above scenario wasn’t the norm for my experience on a cart. I was fortunate to have access to the SACC room during testing. The unfamiliar location worked to my advantage. You know how at the start of the school year, the students are a little timid, unsure, and on their best behavior for the first few weeks? The same happened while we were in the SACC room. It was fabulous. The change of scenery was exactly what we needed to reset some of the bad behaviors/habits that had developed (theirs and mine) throughout the year in my art room.

If you pile it high enough, it will fall. A stack of 12 x 18″ paper on top of a bin of Play-doh on top of three bins of paper strips and scissors on top of 30 paper weavings on top of two boxes of stitcherys on top of a dish rack of cardboard loom weavings*** on top of a rolling art cart equals disaster. Lesson learned.

Art on a cart = sympathy. I’ve never received more sympathetic looks from other teachers than when I was wheeling my towering art cart through the halls. Okay, maybe when I was seven months pregnant in the sweltering 90 degree temperatures of June, waddling all the way across the school with a cart of clay animals to put in the kiln, but still, being temporarily demoted to art on a cart will garner looks of sympathy from others.

Kids are flexible. I was afraid that I would be disadvantaged by my lack of supplies while on a cart. Especially when I thought of those two dreaded words every art teacher hates to hear, “I’m finished.” In my art room, students have a variety of supplies and activities available to them when they finish early. In my art room, they were used to having multiple options for adding color to their work, crayons, markers, colored pencils, oil pastels… While on a cart, early finishers had one choice, free draw with crayons. That’s it. I was fully prepared for a mutiny, but the uprising never happened. Turns out, when you tell students that this is what you can work on, and they see that there are no other options available, they’re totally okay with that. Really makes me wish I didn’t have open shelving in my art room as my only storage option.

Art on a cart isn’t the end of the world. I survived art on a cart for three weeks. Would I want to do it for an entire year? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be the worst teaching scenario I’ve been in over the years (that honor goes to the two years I was in a windowless, ventless, octagonal room with less usable square footage than the living room in my townhouse). I could certainly make art on a cart work. Don’t tell my principal I said that.


* I use this phrase multiple times during the school day. My students don’t really get it. Proof that I watch too much Project Runway?

** Name has been changed.

*** Just before my art on a cart experience, I discovered a few dish racks in our supply closet. I was pleased to discover that the cardboard looms I use slide (almost) perfectly into the drying racks. It makes storing the weavings much easier and neater. I place a small label on the lefthand corner of the looms where the students write their names. Then we “file” them on the racks, and they can easily pick their work out. You can see the racks in the picture above.

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Small Scraps

Small Scraps: Back to School

“Ever since Kindergarten I’ve wanted to be an artist,” reported an adorable 1st grader.


A conversation between myself, a new Kindergartener and his dad:

Ms. ATHG: “Who do you have for a teacher?”

Kindergartner: “Mrs. New Teacher”

Ms. ATHG: “Oh, she’s new this year. I don’t know her.”

Dad: “That’s what everyone keeps saying.”

Ms. ATHG: “Well, I’m sure she will be great.”

Dad: “I hope so. I don’t think I can handle home schooling.”

There is a growing trend in my school to take kids out of school and home school them if the student or parent doesn’t like their teacher or someone in administration. I know this is a hot button topic, and I will not express my opinion on it, but I do find it interesting.


Elementary

How do you pronounce it? I’m originally from Northern NY, with roots in Central NY and Long Island. I pronounce it, LMN-tare-y. Down here in the South it is pronounced, LMN-tree.


This summer I took a couple of AOE online courses. If you’re in need of some professional development, or you’re looking for some grad credits, I highly recommend these. I took Autism and Art and Managing the Art Room. I loved both of them and I came away with SO many great strategies to use in my room this year. From both classes. Yes, it was a lot of work, and yes, it can be expensive, but ultimately, it was totally worth it. In fact, I’m kicking myself for not coughing up the extra money for the grad course credit (even though I already have my Master’s).  The best part, for me, was being able to interact with real art teachers from across the country. I connect with hundreds of art teachers through ATHG, but with these classes, it felt good to interact with others as myself instead of  my online persona (although the two aren’t that dissimilar).

p.s. AOE hasn’t compensated me in anyway for what I just wrote about their classes, although that would be cool.


Not that long ago, as in a few weeks, I wrote about beginning a capsule wardrobe. It is going beautifully! I haven’t actually made any purchases for the current capsule (Sept-Nov) yet, aside from a couple of pairs of footwear, but I do have my eyes on a few (used) items that would complete my fall (work) wardrobe. That being said, I’m thrilled with only having the pieces that I absolutely love in my closet. It’s really forcing me to be creative with my clothes. I’ve been surprised by how many outfits I’ve come up with so far. I have literally reduced my wardrobe by 2/3 and have yet to stand in my closet thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” Tracking my outfits with an app has really helped as well. Anyway, if you’re in a wardrobe rut or a bind, consider venturing into this challenge.


I’m working at two schools this year, and my days are packed. This school year is going to kick my ass. Seriously. I’m up at 5:00am so I can get myself and my three year old dressed, fed and out the door in time to get the girl to preschool and me to work. I live in a very populated, congested and traffic heavy area. Driving five miles can often take 30 minutes. After an 8-9 hour day, and a 60+ minute commute home, the little one and I are back home in time to scrape something together for dinner at 7:00pm. It’s exhausting, and I’ve only been doing it for a week so far. I have no idea what shape I’ll be in a month or so. But, I have a job, and my girl is loving preschool so far (she just started), so other than the utter exhaustion, I can’t complain, can I?


I hope your school year is off to a great start! I’m sure I’ll have many tales of woe to unleash upon you. Stay tuned!

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A Day In the Life

Lately- Things Teachers Say

“Being an art teacher looks like so much fun. I should have been an art teacher.”

Okay, I know we all signed a blood-pact to automatically and immediately express disdain towards people who say things like this to us, but I couldn’t, guys, I just couldn’t. You see, the woman who said this to me was one of our Autism teachers. I think we can all agree that Autism teachers are some of the hardest working teachers in the building, and I highly doubt they would describe much of their job as “fun”. I have the utmost respect for special education teachers. Their job is hard and very, very time consuming. So yeah, I let this one slide. And I let it slide the next time she made a similar comment.

On the other hand, a 3rd grade teacher had this to say to me today…

“I don’t know how you do it. I could never teach art… all those steps and materials. I couldn’t do it.”

Thank you! It’s not easy. Yes, it can be “fun”, but it’s not easy.

In related, I-can’t-believe-they-said-that news, our assistant principal expressed today that communication with the “specialists” needs to improve because we teach all the grades and it’s not fair for us to be left out of the loop. Or something to that affect.

What’s going on, guys? Is there a blue moon that I’m not aware of?

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