As a teacher, it is my job to impart a variety of knowledge.
As an art teacher, it is also my job to manage a dozen situations at one time, trying to oversee students working on projects, manage the clock, implement cleanup procedures.
There is often a lot going on at the same time, especially the last 5 minutes of class.
Taking in to account that there are only 2 minutes between each class, the outgoing class MUST reset the room for the incoming class.
Trash must be collected and swept up. Artwork must be put away, and students HAVE to stop working when they are given the signal.
The last 5 minutes are CLEAN UP time.
With each new material, clean up procedures change dramatically.
When using chalk, students need ample time to wash hands and tables.
When using watercolors, students need to make sure that their artwork gets put into the correct place on the drying rack.
When drawing in sketchbooks, the sketchbooks need to get put into the correct clip, which must get placed in the correct bin.
When using markers, the lids must be put on tightly, the markers placed in baskets and the baskets placed on the correct shelf.
Since we frequently change materials, clean up procedures change each day.
Even though the same stuff might go in the same spots each day, the students don't necessarily use the same supplies from week to week, and they often forget where things go.
One would think that painting would be something that is done quite often in art. Especially tempera or acrylic painting. But honestly, if you ask any art teacher in the area, I am sure they would agree with me, that using this type of paint is so beautiful, but SO stressful to implement. Most teachers only brave a tempera painting project once or twice a year.
It leaves a mess on the tables that MUST be cleaned between classes. After painting on a project, this paint needs ample time to dry, maybe even several hours as it is quite thick and can smear or stick to another paper if you stack it before it is dry.
It is also exhausting, the work to keep the paint prepped and the brushes washed between classes is intense. It is so much more work than other materials. And something about painting makes the kids wild. They are more likely to have a spill and lose their minds with excitement, than they would be if they were just drawing. This means that at any given moment, an eruption of giggles or gasps or screams might ensue from a corner of the room, which was otherwise engaged.
One smudge of paint on the neck might turn into paint on everyone's face or neck or hands. Anarchy might break out at any given moment, forcing the teacher to be on edge, watching like a hawk, enforcing procedures like a drill sergeant.
YOU NEED A COVER SHEET!
YOU NEED A PAPER TOWEL?
WHY ARE YOU MIXING EVERY COLOR TOGETHER......DON'T YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WORK THAT MAKES FOR ME TO CLEAN OUT THE PALLET BETWEEN CLASSES???
Yesterday, during clean up time, as I was making sure that water containers were dumped out, paper towels were thrown away, paint was placed back on the counter, hands were getting washed, spills were getting cleaned up, and students were working together (not just standing around talking), a boy approached me asked a very serious and thoughtful question: "Mrs. Mitchell, under slavery, why is it that most slaves escaped to the North via the underground railroad where they could be captured and sent back to their owners instead of just going to Mexico?"
As an educator, I know that this was a poignant moment. His question was so authentic and it was clear that he was really thinking about something and wanted true knowledge. This is the pinnacle of learning. This is exactly what we want students in classrooms to do. This is exactly the type of question we want them to ask, to examine events and weigh the pros and cons of various decisions and their implications for future generations.
But at that moment, chaos was circling around us.
I had a choice to make, I could either give his question the thoughtful discussion it deserved, or escape to a beach in Mexico. Not really.
I could've barked to someone skipping by to "slow down, you are carrying a liter of water that could spill at any moment!!!"
I tried to do both.
I tried to manage the clean up procedures AND have a serious discussion about the civil war.
It wasn't my best performance. I can't even remember what I told the kid.
Something about the fact that in the north, slaves had a chance to become citizens, but in Mexico they would have been there illegally. Honestly, at that moment, I couldn't think about anything BUT the fact that in 3 minutes, the next class would be waiting in the hall and we HAD to reset the room in preparation for them.
It was a missed opportunity, and bad timing for sure.
Tune in tomorrow to learn what life lesson I had to impart the very next hour.
This is my 'slice of life' blog.
My Art Teacher Blog:
This Little Class of Mine