I decided today that I would like to keep track of this amazing experience this time around. I’m the worst about writing something every day so I am hoping this will keep me motivated. I know every day will hold something incredibly different for me.
I’m student teaching at George Walton Academy. My cooperating teacher is an incredible human. She taught me when I was at Eastside. I’m there every day, from 7:45-3:15, hopefully some days I’ll be there even later. I find myself wishing so many things, but first and foremost, sharing my experience.
There are 6 periods and we have 5 classes:
Art I/Art II
Art I/Art II
There are so many things that are in my head at the end of the day and part of me is glad I have a small commute home. It gives me time to think and analyze things that happen. Yesterday passed too quickly to even hold on to, but today I tried very hard to be present and to remember.
I’m starting to remember names. And students are starting to remember mine. There are some I feel so close to already, others I wonder if they will ever allow me to know them. I fear sometimes that it may be difficult, stepping in halfway through the year, after relationships have been established and trust has been built. At times I feel invasive — like maybe I should not be there or do not deserve to be there. I have not earned their trust, but desperately wish they would give it to me. Things like this aren’t covered in undergrad. We don’t talk about how long and how much work it takes to be the person your student needs. We don’t talk about the fact that some students will never trust you because they cannot trust themselves, how to handle ‘mean girls’, what is okay to say and what is not okay to say (apart from the obvious), how much distraction is acceptable or how much is too much, how we become confident in OUR work (something I am struggling SO much with), earning respect, being open but not too open… there are so many fine lines and I want definition and structure and answers. I have to earn them.
Yesterday I spoke with a few students in 5th period about using watercolor and sharpie in their visual journals. A group of girls were doodling on the pages with every color of sharpie imaginable, but they blew through the pages, one after another after another. I offered up my words to perhaps give them a new way to look at their markers and a new way to look at their pages — to find things that already exist and to utilize them. But I have also noticed I undermine the things I say — “but it’s just an idea, I know it’s kind of weird.” “Just me? Yeah, that’s totally cool and normal. I’m sorry.” “I just made that aca-awkward.” So today I nearly cried when I heard a student from that table ask across the room “Ms. Mockett, will you show me how to do that thing you were talking about yesterday with the sharpie and the watercolors?” She remembers my name? She remembered I spoke? SHE THINKS I HAVE COOL IDEAS?! I said of course, of course, and even told her I made a page last night so I could show her just in case she wanted to learn or see (pathetic, much?). So I pulled out my sketchbook and showed her:
So then we chatted for a minute and I sat there awkwardly, with all my materials. I had to give a demo. I started to talk and then stopped. What do I say? How do I explain this? You just USE watercolor and then once it dries, adorn it with sharpie… it’s that simple, right? They stared at me, waiting. I struggled with my words. I tried to think of more detailed things to say, more helpful things, but they didn’t come to me. So, I just did it. I threw out a few helpful hints “the more saturated the water color on your brush, the more vibrant it will be on your paper” – “there’s an artist that does amazing things by painting one side of a sheet, folding it in half, and then finding real objects to draw in the created shapes” – “another cool thing you can do is resist painting — here, I’ll show you.” Things just kept falling out of my mouth. I couldn’t help it — I wanted to tell them everything I knew about mixed media, and visual journals, and material appropriation. This was her end result:
She incorporated a little bit of everything I said in her page…
It is hard, to find yourself worthy of students’ love, to feel worthy or knowledgeable enough to teach them, to find the right words to say, to know what they love to draw, what their style is, what materials they prefer, how to console them when they are frustrated. For years, I have sat in classes, been that student, learning things but not ever experiencing them. I don’t want my students to ever feel like I held anything back from them.
Bowers, my CT, is a huge fan of six word memoirs — a six word sentence that sums up your whole life. Hers is “Wasn’t awkward until I made it.” Camille, one of my 4th period girls, asked me what mine was and I said I didn’t have one yet. She laughed and said, “Okay, cool. You have to have one by the end of the semester. That’s your goal.” I scanned the room and realized one had bloomed during that short conversation: