Friday, September 16, 2011

cha, cha, cha, changes.

First classroom EVER

NEW classroom
We are FINALLY starting to get some art work done in my classes!

We are finishing up our first full week of school and after today, I will have met all of my 300 students at least once. (I previously quoted that I had about 600 students. thankfully that was wrong, but it would have been nice to know before beginning school.) I am starting to get into the swing of things, but the first few days were nerve racking.

The last three periods of the day are designated to "specials." Each period a different grade goes to their "special" for that day. One day they may have health, the next PE, the next art, the following music, and for our sixth graders, "student support" (a class lead by the guidance counselor, focusing on current issues (i.e. bullying) or study skills and organization).

Students have a choice when they go to music class. They can focus on general music or chorus. This is pretty great because the other option would be to have chorus after school. This set up provides an opportunity for more participants. However, our first two days of "specials" were spent in the auditorium asking students what he or she would like to do and then placing the students in different sections from there. This process required me to speak to an auditorium full of kids I had never met before, introducing myself (the 3rd art teacher in 3 years!) and what (which I still don't really know) I will be teaching this year. Then, after the kids said ya or nah, it was a free period. Can you imagine the volume of 115 sixth graders in one room? Granted they were sitting every other seat, but here I was, not knowing a soul, trying to make a good first impression and having no clue what to do with myself.

It all worked out though. And between the confusion (for me at least) the first few days, and the assistant principal giving me a pep talk in the sense, to make sure I don't give the kids an inch in the beginning, I was already going into survival mode.
But I have been pleasantly surprised.

Hopefully I am not jinxing this as I type, but the sixth grade, when not in one room together, has been well mannered, has kept at a nice volume (even while passing in the hall!), are creative, and each adds to the class dynamic. One of my eighth grade classes was rather loud when we finally starting creating, but the more I looked around and listened... it was about what they were doing. The students were really excited to be in class!

I am super excited to see what everyone comes up with for their first assignment. I have many new names to learn, and only seeing them once a week will be difficult. So, all of my first lessons are centered around IDENTITY. Grade 8 is working on Kaleidoscope Name designs, found in Arts & Activities. Grade 7 is working on Identity Mandalas (focusing on creating visual symbols) and Grade 6, starting next week, will begin an Identity Grid, as seen on We Heart Art.

On a related, yet side note, my new school gets funding for after school clubs. This is one of the things that makes the school community and starting from the interview, I expressed an interest in having an Art Club. Between then and now I had this grandeous idea to have a "Sketchbook Project 2012" Club. --- I participated last year, and yes, the only people who looked at my book were people I knew, but for a middle school kid, how AWESOME would it be to say you participated, and even put it on an application for college?--- The idea would be super expensive, even with a group discount, so I put the idea aside.
I heard yesterday that some important people liked my idea (especially since the project goes on "tour") and they are willing to help find the funds to make it happen. I am super, duper excited for this endeavor and will be working on a flashy flier over the weekend, for sure!


  1. I think the idea of using an after school club for the Sketchbook Project is an awesome idea. I don't think I'm participating this year, because of it not being seen, but it's still an awesome project.

    But I'm confused about your schedule. Are you just teaching part time? If "specials" are only in the last three periods of the day, what is the rest of your day like?

    Meanwhile, congrats on your room; glad your year is off and running ok!

  2. Yes, I am only a part time teacher. (I was full time last year at a private school, but even part time for the public school this year comes with a little bit better salary.)

    The rest of my day- at least these past two weeks- I've managed to stay busy with planning and homework. I started my first semester in grad school and the two classes are proving to be time consuming.

    Thanks for reading!