And So I Started Drinking Coffee

And So I Started Drinking Coffee

By time this post goes live I will be into my fourth week of Student Teaching. I am the most tired I have ever been (ever), but I am also the most engaged with thinking about and appreciating art that I have ever been.

I haven’t had much time in my life that wasn’t measured in a school year. For the most part, I’ve always loved being in school. Though, there was a period of time in Elementary school during which I frequently faked sick to stay at home and watch soap operas and paint—partly because I figured out that I could do an entire day’s worth of schoolwork in much less time than it took to actually go to school, and partly to avoid being bullied by boys in my older cousin’s grade after school.The idea of spending a good forty-year career in a classroom seems like a good idea even though my body does not want to be awake before 9AM.  It has been a while since I’ve been on an 8:00-3:15 schedule. It is not so much that I’m not a morning person, as much as it is that I have an active night mind. So, I bought a French press and started drinking coffee.

I began Student Teaching on a Tuesday. As a kindergartener, when the idea of school was a new and exciting reinvention from pre-school, I was so excited to get home and tell my mom all about my day that I once rushed off the bus and tripped running up my driveway, fracturing my wrist. At the end of my first day of Student Teaching I was exhausted, but going on an adrenaline rush. I wanted to call my mom. She would want to know how things went and about my students. But, my mom had a tracheostomy in September, and although she has recovered enough to use a speech valve, I have yet to be able to communicate with her outside of my visits home. So, I quietly celebrated my first day by heading over to 826CHI for after-school tutoring, where I ended up explaining insurance deductibles to an eleven-year-old and helped a first grader with barbecue sauce spilled all-over her pants write a story about a pigeon that has the very coveted job at school of being the Line Leader. I then met up with a friend for tacos. How I lasted that long amazes me as much as thinking about how I got through entire days of high school after staying up chatting on AIM until 3AM.

As the days and now weeks have gone on, I’ve seen my 150+ students through exams and the rush to turn in lingering late assignments that make the difference between letter grades. Fit into a larger lesson on paper sculpture that will ultimately result in a large-scale installation at the Ticked Pink Breast Cancer Fundraiser, I recently taught a lesson on Kirigami, Japanese paper cutting. The lesson grew out of a demo I did back in the fall for my Secondary Methods class. The whole unit has actually grown out of a lesson I came in and taught back in November. This has made it easy to work with my cooperating teacher Mr. Black, and to start weaving in my own lessons and learning materials.

My Kirigami lesson included a thematically appropriate playlist of Japanese Jazz Hip Hop that set the art room as a zen creative space. Not all of my students were feeling it, so I was surprised a few days later when some gentlemen in 3rd period asked me to put it on again: Art 1 Kirigami Lesson. We’re working on the music situation in the art room.

The past few weeks have not been without challenges. I’ve been close to losing my voice from the strain of getting the attention of thirty high school students. When I’m not teaching or thinking about teaching and growing Pinterest boards, I just want to take naps and wake up to eat dinner and then go back to sleep. Other than adjusting to being awake, the biggest challenge is that for most of my students this is the last art class they will take, EVER. So, what do I really want them to learn? National and State learning standards for Visual Arts have been going through a shift, potentially changing the way art curriculums will be structured moving forward. I’m not trying to train my students to answer fine arts trivia. My students are already run down from the demands of six other classes and they deserve engaging lessons that introduce them to information they would not be exposed to otherwise and help them develop skills that transcend disciplines.

I received my first thank you card addressed to “Ms. Crone” from a student graduating at the end of first semester. I haven’t won every student over, and I probably won’t. But, so far, I think we’re going somewhere.

Also, there was recently a blizzard. But, Chicago pretty much shrugged it off.