I know a few people who write for various media sites and publications. As I’ve read their ‘Best of 2014’ lists I’ve been all the more anxious to be the owner of my time again so that I can re-engage with literature and popular culture. Movies, books, music—I’m behind on a lot. If you try to talk to me about Serial I will gladly smile and nod, but I haven’t listened to a single episode. I’m in a book club and feel accomplished if I manage to even start the book. 2014 was a hard year personally, academically—on all fronts. I got through it. Here are some of the highlights from within my MAT realm:
Best teaching moment/Best performance of “Let it Go”
I taught a couple of stretches of Saturday art classes out in Highland Park, one of Chicago’s northern suburbs, during the 2013-2014 school year . Anne Becker, Art Ed professor extraordinaire, is always forwarding us emails she receives about job opportunities and this was one I jumped on immediately—I was calling and emailing within minutes of reading the email and got the job. My students were in grades 4-8 and during my time with them we designed sketchbook covers in Photoshop, did some painting, and went through dozens of packages of Sculpey clay. Each Saturday we would listen to the Radio Disney Countdown, and “Let it Go” (the song from Frozen) was at the top of the charts for months. All of my students would start singing along, sitting there surrounded by art supplies. I obviously have a weakness for kids making art, but the singing just adds a whole other dimension of emotion. But, beyond that, everyone was having so much fun, while learning new art processes. It was such a positive art-making environment. The grant for the program has been renewed and I’ll be returning to them in January for fifteen Saturdays across the rest of the school year. I have a suspicion that there will be a lot of Taylor Swift sing-alongs.
Favorite lesson plan I wrote
Maybe the one I put together for Arts Integration class where second graders make concert posters for fake bands. It’s one that I think I will actually use one day.
I’m really proud of the unit plan I recently wrote for my Secondary Methods final.
Favorite Cohort 22 moment
The Sunday after this past semester ended some of us went out to Jeanne’s house in the suburbs. There was a raku kiln firing, pyrography demo, lots of wine and appetizers, a feast of Chinese food…it was really spectacular, and such an art teacher party. We stayed until almost 2AM—talking, laughing, listening to indie Christmas music. Of the holiday celebrations I’ve been part of this season, this was probably the one that meant the most to me. We’ve spent a lot of time together in our program. These are the people who know me best right now. I am incredibly grateful for the friendships that have come out of my grad school experience and hope that we stay in touch throughout our careers.
Raku firing in Jeanne’s driveway:
Best things I did for myself (two-way tie)
Broke my lease. When I started grad school I moved out of my first apartment where I had been living for three years and into my first apartment by myself. During the eight months that I lived there it was one disaster after another. Between a harassing neighbor, a mice infestation, and water damage, I was sometimes just afraid to be at home and would go stay with friends. If you live in a city long enough you are bound to have at least one bad apartment, but what I went through is not the norm. By some sort of laws of probability or karma, there is no way I will ever encounter a worse apartment. I moved at the end of March and my little Edgewater apartment is perfect—affordable, and walking-distance from my high school student teaching placement.
Took a vacation. When you’re on a grad school budget it is scary to spend so much money with one click. I am young enough that I haven’t had very many years of financial independence under my belt yet, and I am currently being kept afloat by FAFSA. But, I put a lot of myself into work that benefits children and the education system. I need to have enough self leftover for me.
Best Netflix Binge
Bob’s Burgers. I think it was during the very short period of time between the end of the Spring semester and the beginning of Summer classes. There were a couple days there where I hardly left my bed other than to go to the refrigerator or the bathroom, and I watched all of Bob’s Burgers. No regrets.
Best Lessons Learned (three-way tie)
Know your support system and use it. I’m not sure that I’ve always been the best at asking for help. Over the past year I hit some bumps I couldn’t navigate quietly. I decided to let people in. I could not have gotten through this past semester of school were it not for the incredible support of my friends, my cohort, and my professors.
Allow yourself small luxuries. Sometimes I look at my bank statement and see all of the charges for parking and have to take a deep breath. Full-time students are automatically charged for a U-Pass, which is an unlimited CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) pass for the semester. I feel an obligation to use that U-Pass I’ve already been charged for. Then I remember how nice it is to get home before 9pm.
Buy an iPad. iPad technology hasn’t yet eclipsed the capabilities of my Macbook Pro, but my iPad mini meets all of my needs when I’m on campus without me having to lug around a laptop. As iPads have become increasingly popular as an educational tool, it is also a device worth knowing. It has improved my grad school student life quality and overall productivity.
What I’m looking forward to in 2015
Student teaching. It’s time to put everything into practice.
The NAEA Conference. Most of Cohort 22 will be heading to New Orleans in March. I’ve never been. And, I’ll be doing a roundtable presentation about my experience working with TEAM.
Wearing these earrings. These are the earrings that say, “Hi, I’m an art teacher.”
Reading. I recently traded recommendations with friends and have a whole list of things to check out.
Motivational text messages from Dr. Anne Becker.
Finding a job. I will be walking at graduation in May. By July I should have my teaching license. Fingers crossed, in August I will be employed as a full-time teacher.