Deadlines and D&D

Deadlines and D&D

Motivational poster made my my sister Grace when she was in the 7th grade.

I’ve just gotten home from Cohort 22’s last night of Classroom Management with Beth Drake. Afterwards a few of us went out for a drink and some appetizers. I should’ve/could’ve rushed home to do more work, but it’s the end of the semester and I need time to decompress.  Last Tuesday I taught five Art I classes at Senn and have since barreled through Thanksgiving, and while the semester is almost over, I still have plenty of work to turn in. You can’t quite understand the workload or the time commitment of the MAT program until you’re in it. In job interviews in the past I’ve been asked that question about how I am at meeting deadlines. Before grad school I would tether myself to deadlines—pulling myself towards them on schedule because I am responsible, I work hard and I respect deadlines. I didn’t want anyone in my academic/professional life to see me in any other light. But, what I’ve learned since adopting teacher perspective is that sometimes I have to choose myself over meeting the deadline. Counseling services at colleges tend to be overbooked at the end of the fall semester because a lot of us are a little hard on ourselves. I’ve chosen to be healthy.

At the beginning of my senior year of high school my mom got sick and during that time I spent three months living at home by myself. For the first time ever my grades slipped. Of course they did, I had more important things to do than homework. I beat myself up over it. I only got over it by spending four years thriving at an art school with a Pass/Fail grading system. Now, as an adult, as a teacher, I understand priorities a little better. We talk a lot about how to accommodate students going through rough times; I have to remember to allow myself that same space.

Over this past summer my mom’s health took a turn, and it has dramatically affected my ability to meet deadlines this semester. Columbia’s faculty and staff have been nothing but understanding. But, last night I had to walk into class without a finished classroom management plan in hand, and believe me, every assignment I haven’t turned in on time this semester weighs on me. In the rational part of my brain, I know that it is okay, but its hard to unlearn perfectionist habits. Going all the way back to high school I still have to remind myself that I am not grades. Sleeping, eating, and my personal/mental health are all in check right now, and my papers and projects will get turned in.

Teaching is a demanding profession. I suspect that the general public doesn’t fully understand what goes into lesson planning. Being a grad school student in Education sometimes feels like a hyperbolized simulation of what we are going to be up against. We have two years to cover a thousand hypothetical scenarios. A couple of weeks ago some of us had a twelve-hour homework party, where we worked on one assignment. I spent over 24 hours working on homework over that weekend, after a full week of work and school.

Homework Party at Angela’s

So, sometimes I just need to take my focus somewhere else. Sometimes I need to be a little silly. I’ve started playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), more specifically the Pathfinder RPG. Sometimes I need to not take myself so seriously, and I cannot take myself too seriously when I am Ceridwen of Green Gables, a gnome druid.

We (my team and I, pictured below) are on a campaign called “Shattered Star” in a land called Varisia…again, I can’t take this too seriously and it is brilliant. We’ve fought gremlins and discovered enchanted artifacts. I have an animal companion lion named Gorbash. I will eventually gain shapeshifting powers. It is absolutely magical.


When my Secondary Methods instructor threw out a budget project in favor for a gaming project, I knew exactly where I wanted to go with it. Luckily, my partner Carolina was up for it and after many hours and undeniably nerdy research, we had outlined the basics of an Art History RPG: Untitled, Artist Unknown.

Some specifics can be found HERE.

As I mentioned, I taught a lesson at Senn, my student teaching placement, the other week. It was my first time teaching a full day and during 5th period I had an evaluator come in as set up through my Secondary Methods class. I introduced my students to installation art, as framed by talking about contrast and chiaroscuro (our new big art term), asking students How can you interrupt a space? and How can you create an experience? The content I covered in my lesson will continue to come into play into my student teaching, and I will go into more detail at a later time. But, something I’m up against with five Art I classes is hesitancy to create and share ideas. High school students aren’t given time anymore to break through the self-conscious film that has settled over them. Art class can be academically enriching and fun in a way that encourages a little less hiding. I’ve seen what happens when adults are asked to do improv as a team building exercise compared to using it as an icebreaker with middle school students. It is okay to be a little silly sometimes, even if you are an adult or high school student. We all need to loosen up a bit sometimes, and games do that. Looking towards next semester, Ceridwen of Green Gables and friends are going to collect all the pieces of that shattered star, and I will be looking for an opportunity to test out Art History D&D with my students.