Day 9 – Assume the position

So today was an interesting day… (wow, I have had long nails for a few weeks now, but I cracked one giving my clay demo today and I have trimmed them all. It’s weird to type without them!)

Poor Bowers has been sick and hurt all week. Because of this, everything has been a bit wonky and off. I’ve been much more involved with the students, mostly because Bowers has been home or has been with the doctor. It’s given me a great opportunity to step up as a teacher, though, and become comfortable with trying to take control of situations and handle things. (It isn’t easy and it still feels weird, but I keep telling myself it’s okay and that this is part of the process). I am so glad I’m here to help Bowers out though, because she NEVER misses school, ever (today was her second day in the 8 years of her teaching that she has ever called in sick, and she only came in late. She didn’t even take a full day) and I know it’s stressing her out so hard to be gone. Today was a great day.

Mariam's progress.

Mariam’s progress.

So I’ve started to get really good at this clothes picking thing. For the most part, I’ve been staying in Covington, so I pack for five or so days at a time. I’ve got a week’s worth of clothes gathered up. That wasn’t even relevant.

So today my fourth period got several clay demos. It was tough because I felt boring and it took literally the entire class period to give all the demos I needed to… Bowers said I did great, but I’m not used to 50 minute studio time. College has spoiled me that way.

Wedging, ugh. The hardest part of teaching a ceramics unit. -__-

Wedging, ugh. The hardest part of teaching a ceramics unit. -__-

Sarah had this amazing sketch ready to show me today… I could tell she had taken it home and worked on it, which made me ecstatic. I also had an eighth grader tell me today that I needed to read the Fault in our Stars, by John Green. I told Kaitlyn I hadn’t read it and she said “OH! I will bring it in for you tomorrow! It is SO good!” Haha, loving the fact that I’m already borrowing books from my students. I’ll have to interrupt Atlas Shrugged so I can get Kaitlyn her book back before I leave at the end of February. I’m so excited.

Emily's pattern filled prisma.

Emily’s pattern filled prisma.

My fourth period also asked me today how our observation went yesterday. They were SO well behaved. Today at my seminar, I got my results back from my supervising teacher. I got a perfect score. How amazing is that? I was not expecting that in any way, but I am so glad it happened. I have to thank my kids and I cannot WAIT to tell them tomorrow.

McKenzie's gorgeous painting.

McKenzie’s gorgeous painting.

An interesting thought has been moving around in my head the past week or so. I wonder how many individuals confuse caring and having a relationship for your students as being a “friend” with your student. Bowers and I had a really long chat about that last week, and thinking that being friends with your kids and caring for your kids are the same thing really upset me for some reason. They are so different. I would not expect to go out and grab Pho with my students (Kelsey <3). But I do want to hear about how Payton’s race went last night at the swim meet, and I do want to know what Kennedy’s favorite actresses are. I do want to know that Ortega prefers one Chik Fil A over another (that freezer taste, eck) or that Zep loves stuffed nachos from Taco Bell. I want to hear about Libby’s volleyball tournaments and the status of Rachel’s scholarships to SCAD are. I DO want to know what happens in my kids lives, and I don’t want that to be interpreted as being desperate to receive love or trying too hard. I want to know those things because I care about them, and I want to learn them like the back of my hand. They give me beautiful things every day, through their art, their conversation, and their willingness to please. The least I can do is return all the love I can muster as a thank you. They are the reason I am here and want to teach at all. They are not my friends. They are my kids. My mentees, my confidantes, my laughter and my grounding. My life is going to revolve around them. That doesn’t stop when the last bell rings, or when I’m home cooking dinner or out with friends. Those kids possess your heart.

My doodles are evolving every day. My art making has increased ten-fold.

My doodles are evolving every day. My art making has increased ten-fold.

I just wanted to say that my lady dogs made state tonight. Kit, AB, Cedar, Berkeley… I am SO proud of y’all. I KNEW you would make it tonight, I had no shadow of a doubt, but y’all dropped two entire seconds. I am so impressed and proud of you.

Faitlin's new project -- that girl is kicking butt and taking names.

Faitlin’s new project — that girl is kicking butt and taking names.

For all my constant readers (I cannot believe I have those), thank you. Of course, I started this blog for my mom and my grandma, but to know other people find so much joy in it reassures me it will serve a grander purpose. I love knowing I am keeping track of this beautiful thing growing inside me, and I’ll be able to trace it back to the beginning.

Tonight, Kelsey said, “Every time I read your blog, I think to myself, I should be as happy as her.” It’s true. You should. Because this week has actually sucked. I lost my job, I’ve been stuffed to the gills with plans and showers and lessons and photo editing and LIFE, I am exhausted EVERY single day, rest or no rest, coffee isn’t cutting it, I am constantly struggling with feeling inadequate, I doubt myself at times and fear my stronger, firmer teacher voice… But that is still so tiny and insignificant to the magic that is happening in this classroom.

Chris Schulte has taught me to find beauty in everything, and Dumbledore said that everything is there if we can only remember to turn on the lights. We move every day through these masses of people, activities, assignments, conversations… several of us pass through them, contributing nothing and taking nothing, like ghosts. It is a lonely and tiring thing to do, to never love or risk or take a chance on something. I’m just an art teacher, but I know one thing: I have never found more power, courage and beauty in myself as I have on this journey. Follow your heart. Pay your own tuition. Take less hours if you need to. Drop out of school and move to Colorado, if you need to. Invest in something crazy, if you need to. DO IT, because time is too damn precious. Tapping your feet and hoping for the day you are ready to be brave will leave you disappointed. It’s today. It is RIGHT NOW. Because to assume there is a tomorrow waiting for you is selfish. To wait for your life to begin is robbing yourself of the life that is already happening. Encounters happen every time you pass someone, every conversation you have, every opportunity to speak or cry or laugh or BE. Take them. Take them and run.

A thank you to an amazing man who has changed this soul forever.

A thank you to an amazing man who has changed this soul forever.

I’m just a teacher, though. What do I know. #thisisthelife
Song of the blog:
SO IMPOSSIBLE // DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL

lumos

 

 

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.

photo 4

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.

photo 5 (2)

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