Day 7 – Our Friday

Hi, friends. Today was a very big day for me.  My first period class has burrowed into a special place and I’m beginning to feel very welcomed and accepted with them. Yesterday, I was doing my walk-around and noticed Ashley’s visual journal out on her table and asked if I could look at it tomorrow (today). She sent it home with me and I made a page (remember my post yesterday?) for her to glue in if she wanted to. Ashley is a girl after my heart — she loves music (and by love it I truly mean she loves it. Unconditionally). Nearly every page was covered in music lyrics — things that seem hard and true and real and a struggle. It included things that some people may never share with anyone. Knowing Ashley trusted me to see that much of her was a true honor.

My first period has connected with me on so many levels. Yesterday Ashley allowed me to take her visual journal home with her... it was beautiful and packed with song lyrics. I made a spread for Ashley with Incubus lyrics: "There's something about the look in yours. something I notice when the light is just right. It reminded me twice that I was alive, and it reminded me that you're so worth the fight."

My first period has connected with me on so many levels. Yesterday Ashley allowed me to take her visual journal home with her… it was beautiful and packed with song lyrics. I made a spread for Ashley with Incubus lyrics: “There’s something about the look in yours. something I notice when the light is just right. It reminded me twice that I was alive, and it reminded me that you’re so worth the fight.”

Today after she read the page, she walked up to be and gave me a huge hug. “Thank you so much, it’s beautiful.” She walked away and then came the tears. How do you teachers do it? I’m going to cry every day. I’m already at four in a row. I can’t handle it. It’s amazing. She also started a new project today. She’s going to use india inks! So excited:

Ashley's new project!

Ashley’s new project!

Mary's incredible chandelier.

Mary’s incredible chandelier.

Second period, Bowers gave me the courage to help teach. We introduced contour line drawings today. Bowers spoke on contour and gave a mini lesson on line quality and drawing through shapes and line, then transitioned into a contour drawing of their bookbags.

My eighth graders working on contour drawings of their bookbags.

My eighth graders working on contour drawings of their bookbags.

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Bowers working alongside our eighth graders today. One of the things I love most about her is that she makes art with her artists.

Bowers working alongside our eighth graders today. One of the things I love most about her is that she makes art with her artists.

So after we worked on contour drawings, I read an excerpt from a book called “The Things We Carry” by Tim O’Brien, an account of his experiences as a Vietnam soldier.

The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellant, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighed between fifteen and twenty pounds, depending upon a man’s habits or the rate of metabolism. The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition. For the most part they carried themselves with poise, a kind of dignity. They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing – these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely retrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down.

After I read the excerpt, I explained to our students the difference between tangible and intangible — things we can physically touch and the things we carry inside us. I listed out some quick examples of what intangible burdens may be. We then asked our students to talk about ten things they carry – in the form of a list, a poem or a narrative. As they were working, I passed on student’s paper and saw on their list “regret, envy, need.” Tears filled my eyes as I realized that big things happen before high school. Students of all ages feel so much and they trust us with that information. How beautiful. After they walked out and I wiped those silly,  insistent tears from my face, all I could think was “how can this possibly get any better?”

Bowers took a dried paint palette today and turned it into this... she amazes me.

Bowers took a dried paint palette today and turned it into this… she amazes me.

During planning today I decided to write out my ten things I carry in my bag:

visual journal – for the words I can’t find
pencils – to create and erase
fear – of disappointing
pressure – to be perfect, kind, calm, collected, intelligent, funny, professional, wise, responsible, charming, spontaneous, put-together…
worry – that I may not be successful or accepted
mio – to flavor my water… and bring sweetness to the ordinary
harry potter book – to remind me to be brave, even in the midst of dementors
pride – in my accomplishments, in my love for life, in the investments of my heart, and the works and minds of my students
courage – in hopes that one day, when I need it, it will be there
self-worth – if I don’t have it, no one else is carrying it in their bag for me.

Shelby and Animalions in 5th period. :)

Shelby and Animalions in 5th period. 🙂

This weekend Bowers is running a half marathon in Charleston, so she gave me the day off tomorrow to work on writing my curriculum unit that I start teaching Tuesday (EEEEEEEP!).

Even the substitute folder is beautiful.

Even the substitute folder is beautiful.

Madison's gorgeous prisma.

Madison’s gorgeous prisma.

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Bowers and Fellows experimenting with more paint dripping!

Bowers and Fellows experimenting with more paint dripping!

So I promised my likes and dislikes. Here goes nothing.

  • I don’t like gossip. It makes me sad.
  • I like movies, cars, and jokes. Share those all day long.
  • I don’t like things that look or resemble blood or needles. Don’t joke about that. It will never be funny. Especially when I throw up everywhere.
  • I love Star Trek and Harry Potter.
  • Dogs, chai tea, film photography, Tuscan Red, and small lights make me so happy.
  • I don’t like brussel sprouts. Or asparagus. Ew.
  • I don’t like people talking when I’m giving instructions or saying something important. Rude.
  • I don’t mind cell phones – if you don’t touch them, leave them in my class, text on them, send Snapchats, troll Instagram or Tweet the stupid things I say. There’s a time and place for all of that, and it isn’t in my class.
  • I like weird words, making up words, and using the wrong words. The struggle is real, y’all hang in there.
  • I like Tommy. He’s the coolest person I know. Ask me anything about him. I love to talk about him. (You’ll see)
  • Grading is hard. I don’t like doing it, so don’t give me a reason to give you anything other than an A.
  • I don’t do nails on chalkboards, or anything that resembles that sound. Please, don’t.
  • I’m not into people who talk over others, or who love to hear themselves talk. Give everyone a turn.
  • I’m so into awkward. I love awkward like it’s my job.
  • If I could be any fictional character, ever, it would be Hermione Granger. If you don’t know who that is, take a lap.
  • I love to read, knit, collect dogs and eat sweet potatoes

And I’m sure it will be added to… That was surprisingly funny. It’s almost like an “about me” on MySpace. I haven’t written one of those in ages.

Today’s inspiration pieces:

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Song of the blog:
ECHO // INCUBUS

Day 6 – Just keep swimming

“What do they want to learn?”
“Maybe I should ask them…”

Happy Wednesday, everybody!
Today was a great day. My first blockers make me so happy every morning. I look forward to seeing Ortega stroll in with her letterman sweater and seeing Kit bent over her prisma work. They are such hard workers.

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Kennedy’s awesome painting. It reminds me so much of Audrey Kawasaki.

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Macall’s scratch board. The details in this are remarkable.

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Kasey’s beautiful watercolor work in her visual journal.

I am amazed at our 8th graders. They completed their upside down drawings today and they have literally blown my mind. They are quiet and determined. I have seen so much concentration and a willingness to please.
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Bowers and I plotted out my curriculum unit’s first lesson. I’m so excited, I think our fourth period is going to absolutely love it. I have really enjoyed and appreciated having a mentor that cares about me and wants to give me the best experience she can. George Walton is starting to feel so much like home.

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Ashley shared her visual journal with me today and let me take it home with me. I made a page for her to glue in if she wants. Shhhh.

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What I come home to: the artist in me runs through every part of my life, including my other half. One of the most brilliant artists I know. He is fearless and always finds a way to forge his own path.

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I was honored to have the opportunity to see our water dogs compete today. The girls relay is working to qualify for state. They were so good and I was proud. Every day these kids inch farther inside my heart. I love the idea of teaching, but considering coaching a team makes life seem like it would be even better. What I would give to be a part of this family.

Today’s blog is short. I was wrapped up in being present. 😉 and I’m writing it from my cellphone. I’ll write more in detail tomorrow, so hang tight…

Tomorrow I’m going to list things I like and don’t like… Bowers version of rules. Stay tuned.

Song of the blog:
PUSHER LOVE GIRL // JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

Day 5 – It’s a beautiful day.

I have a sweet potato in the oven and I am so excited about it. I’m starting my post a little late tonight, but unfortunately being a grown up comes first. I’m going to try my very best to be in bed by 11:00 tonight (maybe 10?). We’ll see how that goes…

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Every day is starting to rock my world. I’m getting a little more accustomed to the “Teacher Tired.” I think over the next week or two I will sync up with the schedule. It’s almost like jet lag. I’m working on taking more pictures, because I love a blog with lots of images AND because these kids amaze me literally every single day. I’ve shared this link with them in hopes that they will check it out. I’ve asked all of them if I can share their work and they seem really excited!

First block is such a good way to start my day. They’re a really sweet group of students. Olivia (Olive) has been working on this AMAZING mixed media piece:

Olive's KILLER mixed media piece. She used a laser cutter in combination with bleeding tissue paper, paint, conte crayon and prisma. She's going to collage the rays.

Olive’s KILLER mixed media piece. She used a laser cutter in combination with bleeding tissue paper, paint, conte crayon and prisma. She’s going to collage the rays.

I wanted to spend a little extra time talking about 8th grade today. This is the youngest class Bowers has, and every semester she gets a new group of them. She and I were both excited for me to see how she interacts with a new group. It has helped me so much in planning and considering how I want to structure the psychology and environment of my classroom.

8th grade's intro unit. Bowers is amazing.

8th grade’s intro unit. Bowers is amazing.

Every day I am here, I discover more and more how much I took for granted about Mrs. Bowers. Now that I am seeing her in a different light — as a fellow educator, I am seeing so much more.

I watched her with our eighth grade class today — they are new this semester and most have never drawn before. She started the semester with a firm hand, but today I watched her walk to every table, every student, and a kind word was said to every single one of them. Watching her move and interact brings me literally to tears. I wish I knew in high school what a miracle, a blessing, an aura to the doldrums of life that she was. Seeing the look on these students faces in response to her praises is truly something unforgettable. I want to be this person for someone, someday. Just one person, and my life will be perfect.

Today was the first time the students in 8th grade did a walk-around. This is where all the students stand up and walk about all the tables and look at each others work. Bowers told them before they started that they were never allowed to criticize or mock one anothers’ art work. I love that she is instilling those ideals in her students already.

Dylis works so hard in first block. She never fails to come in and get in the zone.

Dylis works so hard in first block. She never fails to come in and get in the zone.

4th block girls gettin' their paint on. (Ashley and Kennedy make such pretty palettes!)

First block girls gettin’ their paint on. (Ashley and Kennedy make such pretty palettes!)

Camille's astronaut! So beautiful.

Camille’s astronaut! So beautiful.

Tomorrow our girls have a swim meet and I’m wearing my red and black to support them! We’re traveling to Riverside. I haven’t been to a swim meet since I competed in high school (which, let’s be real, was a total joke. I sucked). These girls are so close to qualifying for state, so I’m sending good thoughts, peace and strength to our girls relay.

A man and his duck. Chase got so much done on his prisma assignment today.

A man and his duck. Chase got so much done on his prisma assignment today.

Steven working on a watercolor/prisma shell for AP

Steven working on a watercolor/prisma shell for AP

“my nut in a lifeshell.” – Steven

I’m working on my unit for 4th period. Today I was shown how to order materials, and was also humbled and so grateful by the access I have to such amazing materials here. We were able to order 20 new boxes of clay and 15 new glazes. I am so excited for students to start their “homage” project. I will share in greater detail, but I will drop a hint: it includes a hot beverage with a very important person.

A doodle of mine, inspired by artist Caitlin Foster and my sweet students!

A doodle of mine, inspired by artist Caitlin Foster and my sweet students!

I’m getting stronger. I’m feeling braver. I’m ready.

Song of the blog:
LET THE GROOVE GET IN // JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

Day 4 – A Case of the Mondays

Whew. I have GOT to start getting more sleep.

Coffee wasn’t going to be enough this morning, and fortunately, I knew that last night when I went to the store. I picked up a Starbucks green tea energy drink, in Raspberry Pomegranate (my favie, yummers!). Didn’t make a difference. The first half of the day I could have been dead on a doormat and no one would have known the difference. Note to self, midnight is not a good bed time anymore. Ten PM at the latest. The struggle has been real.  Anyway, enough self-induced self-pity. Moving on…

Other than my zombie brain during the first two periods, today was a good day. Interesting, if nothing else. My first period is our Art III class, and they are working on a Prismacolor project. Two of my sweet students, Alison and Lindsey, let me photograph their work today:

Lindsey's Loki Prisma piece

Lindsey’s Loki Prisma piece

Alison Ortega's Prisma piece.

Alison Ortega’s Prisma piece.

Second period is 8th grade. Those kinds are sweet, but they’re also brand new. Bowers is so good with names, and I’m trying really hard to get them (usually I am champion status at names, but sheesh! 80 students a day is so much to remember). I’m getting better… slowly, but surely. Bowers and the students have been a big help. I’m glad they are patient with me while I struggle to remember something as simple as their name. Our 8th graders are learning to draw realistically. Today, Mrs. Bowers allowed me to read information sheets they fill out at the beginning of her class. They have a few simple questions, and it’s truly incredible to see what answers to quirky questions (and handwriting) can help you learn about your students. I am so excited.

Ms. Mockett, going to lunch stag today.

Ms. Mockett, going to lunch stag today.

Mrs. Bowers was elected as Teacher of the Month (the third time this year) and had a luncheon with Rotary Club for 4th and 5th periods today, so I was interested to see how things shifted. They definitely did once Bowers left, but 5th period was the biggest challenge. The students are sweet, but they also love to talk and the volume level got out of hand really quickly. I felt awkward trying to reign them in, but I also felt a bit disrespected, knowing they would not normally be so loud and off task if Bowers were there. So today I got to exercise a “teacher” card. It felt weird and I don’t like having to raise my voice because I couldn’t hear myself speak at a normal level. I find myself gaining a little confidence and starting to understand (and remember) how student’s work. I know they don’t mean to be disrespectful, and in truth, they aren’t, really, but I also know they don’t see me on the same level as Bowers (which I am not). It’s a fine line between speaking up and letting things go, but today I spoke up. It was scary, but hearing the class settle afterward made it worth it. Other students are there to work on the project at hand and look forward to art. I want them to be able to hear themselves think, and I would want a teacher that would keep the classroom that way for me.

AP students are submitting their portfolios of their work thus far to Bowers tomorrow. I was asked to help pick some prints and works today. I felt honored and excited; the GWA students are so talented and gifted. I also plucked up the courage to ask my APeepers if I could photograph them for my exit show, and invited them to come. Most of them said yes right away. A few others seemed uncomfortable, but I can understand that. They don’t know me very well yet. I just hope in the next month, they change their mind. I would love to have several faces to show. All of these students are already changing me.

My vocab word for all of student teaching:

My vocab word for all of student teaching:

Kennedy in 5th period told me today that if she could pick any actress to play her, she would pick Carey Mulligan. Camille and I both said Emma Stone. The small conversations like this make me happy. Also, to see a current high schooler still swoon over the amazing talent of Kate Winslet brings me great pleasure. There was an 8th grade girl in class today who knew who Tom Petty was. Perfect. Because Tom Petty songs can never be skipped in Bowers’ class. Never.

Today, one of my girlfriends, Paige, sent me this text:

Just wanted to tell you that you and your blog inspired me to start really utilizing my visual journal. For the first time in almost a year, I made art just because I like to make art. So thank you, really.

And with it she sent this picture:

Paige’s Visual Journal
Paige's Visual Journal

Paige’s Visual Journal

Can I just say one thing? THAT ^ is what I live for. Paige, I love you. Thank you.

I start teaching my unit Tuesday… EEP. I’m working on writing my curriculum tonight. We’re doing a clay unit, I’m SO EXCITED! I’d like to leave a few inspiration pieces, keep my brain juices flowing. Also, doing a song of the day:

APPLE BLOSSOM // THE WHITE STRIPES

jan 13 inspiration

Day 3 – Feelin’ Sassier.

I’m not gonna lie, y’all. I’m TIRED. Like, walked in the door, kicked off my shoes, made a hot chai and hit the bed tired. This is going to take some getting used to. But now I’m sitting in the warmth of a bed. Winning.

Today started off a little crazy. I woke up late (5:45 instead of 5:15, eeeesh), made a breakfast and forgot it until the last minute, hunted for my phone for fifteen minutes (how I could look that long for it in my tiny apartment, I have no idea. I found it in my robe pocket. Really?), packed all my weekend bags and loaded them up in the rain, had to stop and get gas when I was already running ten minutes late, people driving like the world is ending…. it was nuts. Shake my head. BUT! I got more coffee creamer and found my favorite coffee in Keurig form:

8 O Clock Original -- there a few coffees better than this one.

8 O Clock Original — there a few coffees better than this one.

I had some good, easy, fun (oh, those words are so wonderful) conversations with our students today.  In first period students talked about their cars and trucks while I embroidered in my visual journal (can I just say I missed that thing?). Second period we went to the Nicholson Center to hear Theresa Edwards, four time gold-medal winning Olympic basketball player, give a motivational speech. I love that great athletes give speeches that can relate to everyone. One line brought me to tears:

There is no secret to hard work.

Now, ain’t that one of the truest things you’ve ever heard?

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Bowers’ amazing cupcake collection.

Third period is planning, and I just want to say that my teacher is a phenomenal woman. I was so fortunate to know her and have her before this, but to see her as a teacher from a teacher’s perspective now is something else entirely. She is one of 6 incredible educators who has changed me, permanently.

Three of our boys decided to work with clay in 5th period today and I worked with them. Chase threw a cup, Reid pulled his first cup and Dean centered and started his first vessel, too. I didn’t realize that a sense of pride so strong comes from knowing you helped a student learn something new. Reid threw his first cup, and I found my teacher and asked her to come look. I was so proud of him, and the look on his face when he thinned those walls for the first time will hopefully be an image I remember for ages.  I felt so at ease in the clay room and I wasn’t exactly expecting that. While I have EXPERIENCE with clay, I definitely am lacking in the finesse category. But the right words to say came a little easier today. I found myself giving tips and pointers: “keep as much water out of the inside of the cup as you can” “don’t let the wheel spin too fast after you’ve started to pull — the momentum can throw your cup off center” “Remember, Reid, equal pressure through both arms.” I’m not bragging or trying to give myself props… but I was proud of myself today. It felt more tangible — the idea of being able to communicate instructions and assistance to students. They understood me, and furthermore, listened. I felt confident for the first time since Wednesday (I know, that’s only two days, but those first two days are seriously intimidating and seem so important).

The APeepers (AP Art students) are trying to sort out their concentrations and one of our ladies wanted to try a new painting inspired by Philip Barlow:

Philip Barlow

Philip Barlow

So we took two of her classmates, dressed ’em out and went outdoors to give a shot of our own. Here are my favorites from today:

Kayleigh and AB

Kayleigh and AB

Kayleigh and AB

Kayleigh and AB

I am so excited to see Libby work on these.

I’m feeling a bit of inspiration of my own — I’ve been working on my visual journal and plan to start a new project next week. I’m thinking a painting? Here are small blips of my sources of inspiration this week:

Week 1 Inspiration

Week 1 Inspiration

Time for dinner. I’m going to plan a project to start next week. I’ll fill you guys in… I might even blog over the weekend! Okay, Tommy is poking me, and harassing me until we eat, so I guess I better go eat my Bullrito’s.

 

George Walton, Day 2

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 3
8th grade
Art I/Art II
Art I/Art II
AP Art

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:

Sharpie & Watercolor

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:

jan 9th demo

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.

An amazing student work.

An amazing student work.

AP work on display

AP work on display in the classroom

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:

“This has changed my life, forever.”