Here is another in my continuing series. Enjoy!!!
11) Wealth beyond my wildest dreams.(Note: wealth, as defined by the number of recyclable gifts that come through our studios.)
Yes, keeping an art studio capable of 6.2x10E44 possible art projects stocked and functioning is a 40 hour week all by itself. There's a real possibility that I'm close to the fabled tipping point with my squirreling away of recyclables. Every cabinet in my class is filled. Every corner - who am I kidding? There ARE no corners left. There's one part of the room that used to be a corner in ancient times. It's now the repository of flat cardboard, destined for cutting down into manageable building parts for the 3D center. In that area are also essential extras that we simply can't live without: small sized paper cups, lable-less prescription bottles, clear plastic thingamabobs that make great wheels, flat-folded cereal boxes for medium weight cardboard use, and a thousand extra soda straws. Just in case. Did I mention egg cartons, orphaned socks for future puppets and those great plastic bubble things that protect fragile fruit at Costco? Yep. Rich lady. Me.
12) Sometimes the room breaks out in presidents.Imagine my surprise when a whole roomful of short, shyly smiling presidents appeared just before President's Day. What a coincidence! Presidents are quite serious about their artwork, is is demonstrated by the quite serious faces that day. There's something about a spiffy three-cornered hat that just lends itself to high levels of decorum.
13) I never know which direction a demo will go.
In a TAB classroom, we frequently begin the class period with a short (I shoot for five or six minutes - tops) demonstration of a specific technique. Students can choose to do something with it that day, or, if they have other plans in mind for the time, can revisit the topic of the demo during a later session. This week we talked about contrast in paintings. I shared a technique for outlining subjects in heavy black crayon and then laying down thick tempera - while leaving a bit of white between the black crayon and the color. Kids came up with some neat applications.
14) Joy.Like any classroom, we have occasional upsets. Sometimes an issue seeps through from the playground or someone's day is simply too intense to get through art without doing something beastly. But MOST of the time, we have a deliriously good time. I see joy reflected in proud artist faces, in exuberant work, and in kids' reactions to each other. I think they may have figured me out, too. I get several versions of "Gee, Mz. J. You get to do art all day long. Lucky!" I usually smile and say, "Shhhhh. Your other teacher will want my job if he/she hears. Don't tell!"
15) Fairy Godmothers (and fathers!) abound.Our program has recently been gifted with a brand new sewing machine and benefits from steady volunteer help. Thank you, Pat and Paul. Pat brings her projects and sits alongside the older kids, both to help spark ideas, and to show that the love for art never wanes - even after retirement. Miss Nancy comes three or four days a week to help kinderpeople with their art. She began sharing her gentle guidance when her grandson was a kinderartist but has stayed on because she's so fond of short people when they're in their creative zones. Thanks, Miss Nancy! LOTS of people cull "artables" as they recycle (western Washington is amazingly green) and bring me cardboard rolls, tidy collections of little boxes tucked into each other, and the aforementioned orphaned socks. This list includes lots of anonymous souls, but there are also regulars like Donna, Yvonne, Rachael, Courtney, Conde, Robin, Heather, Karen, the other Karen, and yet another fabulous Karen, Steve, Ron, Kenn, Janis, Merry, and lots of people who just leave gifts outside my door or in my mailbox. Both Sue and Porfirio stop by just to smile at artists at work and to ask questions as they validate kids' efforts, and lots of visitors beam their way through our little corner of the school, accompanied by Dr. Warner as he's giving tours related to what we do. Once in a while a visitor will be curious enough to come for a return visit. Voila! The artists at Evergreen have a new friend and advocate!
It doesn't just take a village to raise a child. It takes a whole learning community. This is a great one in which to nest.
If you're one of the lucky souls who can't tell the difference between playing and working, you'll know exactly what this post is talking about. If you're not, stop by for a visit. I'll share some of the short people that make this place such a hoot.
1) Kinderpeople have the coolest hats.It's not just that they're cute and five (or six) and wearing something endearingly kid-like. It's that they are still brave enough to know that a silly hat is a GOOD thing and, if they've made it themselves, a badge of doublecoolness that simply doesn't require any explanation. (Note: if written in "kid" doublecoolness would be replaced by "awesome!!!" Yes. Three exclamation marks ARE required and yes - it's an all- purpose term in serious vogue right now and is to be used for general cool stuff, store-bought school lunches, Spiderman logo anythings, and reviews of any current kid movies.)
2) People notice when you're gone.I am rarely sick, due to the cumulative accumulation of antibodies that living in close proximity to 500 of one's closest friends affords me. This week was a (thankfully) rare exception as I spent last weekend and most of the week home being a poor patient. When I came back, little people and big ones alike made me feel really welcome.
3) My kids know the difference!I had the world's best sub this week - one of those saints of our profession who, by her very presence creates little ripples of beautifully behaved children in her wake. Kids stand a little taller for her, form into gently polite lines, and simply beam in the glow of her steady love. She retired last year and subs for us "just to keep busy." This sweet tornado swept into my room, looked at my plans and chose "Plan B. - in lieu of the nutty intensity of TAB Central, you're welcome to let the students draw a topic of their choice or to use your favorite art lesson." When I heaped praise on their heads (because of the flood of post-it notes she left insisting I do so) they smiled and said, "Yes, we were good, but we're glad you're back. We did coloring sheets yesterday and marched and sang cool songs but today we want to do ART!"
4) If there's anything sillier than fifth graders early in the morning, I'd like to know about it.We meet for art club on Thursday mornings at 0'dark-thirty. The number of kids varies between just a few to a table full and they're responsible for getting themselves there on their own. A few have a sweet parent who drops them off on their way to work but several of them walk. They come for the long span of unfettered art time, for the conversation with kids from other classes, and for the giggles. Appropriate giggle topics are legion: silly parent tricks, video games I'm good at, alien clay trophies (think mighty hunter den,) Hannah Montana (soooo last year,) NFL teams that want me, my new fashion statement (catch the tie outside the t-shirt outside the white dress shirt) do you like my (insert description of artwork here)?, NBA teams that want me, my new fashion statement (neat color statement, huh?) head banging puppets (this one bears a classmate's name) my gigglegiggle clay gigglegiggle!
5) The wisdom of the artists in this studio humbles me.Today's best example came in response to my explanation to a first grade class about why subs do other things when the art teacher is absent. I'd just finished the part about the noble art teacher coming in early to get things ready for class every day when a fully indignant (see his arms folded defiantly across his chest?) first grader pipes up, "But Ms. J. We do our OWN set up and clean up. Didn't you tell her?" I love it. He owns the independent artist thing! (And I won't bother him with any drudgy old details about what art teachers do to set the stage for that independence. Shhhhh.)
6) Visitors.We have a university student who's absorbing the art of teaching from the fifth grade team. Eva is energetic, curious, and loves playing with art and kids. She comes by to talk teaching, lichens, nudibranchs (google them - you'll love the images) and school. It's refreshing to see my profession through her eyes and I love the way she interacts with the kids.
To be continued...