Thursday was my first day back to school as a substitute. It was a very last minute assignment (about 20 minutes notice) but an assignment is an assignment. I made it to school by block 4 (second class of the day) and where am I? I am subbing for a teacher that teaches part time in my water polo coach's room. Awesome. So half way through the first viewing of "The Emperor's Club" my coach comes in and we pretty much shoot the shit until the end of class. Block 6, I have three of my old students! So fun to see them again. Of course the other students start asking if I am nice or mean....of course they ask the kid who I battled with A LOT because he talked to the girl next to him (she called him her "boo" and everything was about Escalades with her) more than do his work. Second viewing of "The Emperor's Club" not that bad but the quality in the second class room not as good in the first (oh yeah, I changed rooms twice). Block 8...back to my coach's classroom. Third viewing of "The Emperor's Club" was a little painful. At least I only had about 15 students in my class (no one ever shows up to block 8) and two of them kill me! One was a girl I taught last year who asks the most obvious questions and will jump into any conversation and doesn't realize what she is doing. The other is this kid I subbed for a couple times in another classroom who is just funny. He is this scrappy looking kid that can eat his body weight for lunch. Just talking to my old students and some new ones (like the kid who kept running up and down the hall because he had to use the restroom and couldn't find it but was smiling the entire time or the boy and girl who kept teasing each other and then would look at me for back-up) made me miss seeing the students day after day and having that impact on them.
This past semester has been one of the most difficult in my teaching career. In April I learned that my past AP Art History/3-d Art teacher was very ill. Recently I learned that he has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. There is no cure and limited treatment for his symptoms.
I was lucky enough to have Rick as my 3-d Art teacher my freshman year of high school. As the year went on, I found myself asking to "stay to work on my 3-d art project" during his AP Art History class that was the following period. I was never the same. My senior year I took Rick's AP Art History class and knew that I had found my calling. I went on to university and earned my degree in Art History. I returned to Wilson High School and talked to Rick about my schooling and what I wanted to do. He invited me into his classroom to give a special lecture on my studies. I then started the credential program at CSULB. When I ran into friends from Wilson and they asked what I was doing in school, I told them I wanted to be Mr. Vandruff (I mean, who wouldn't?). In April I became a little like Mr. Vandruff when I took over some of his Art History classes when he took a leave of absence from teaching to focus on getting healthy. His students love him. They love him for teaching them about the world and its art. They love him for being the person he is....absolutely amazing.
Rick, my thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.
Today was the last day of school. I was subbing for a friend of mine who teaches mostly seniors so it was a pretty quiet day. To begin with, the classes were only 15 minutes long with a 10 minute passing period. Any student who walked into the classroom, I questioned them "why are you here?" Most of them didn't have an answer. I wasn't going to take roll....for a 15 minutes class. No thank you. Many of my students had heard that I was going to be in that room, so they stopped by to say hi/bye, sign year books, talk trash, jump out windows. Good times.
It has been one of the longest semesters. I love my kids, however, my teaching environment, not so much. I cannot teach in a classroom with that much fake bamboo. I cannot walk into a classroom at 7am to "shake that ass" on the stereo.
Ahh, summer. I will be spending my summer coaching a girls water polo team which will be very entertaining. If these girls are anything like I was in high school, there should be some good stories in the near future.
So in a couple weeks, I will be a fully credentialed teacher. Too bad there are no teaching jobs out there...especially in art. Think good thoughts for me!
My students have no filter when it comes to me. I have heard some of the most disturbing things come out of my students' mouths. I would love to tell you all about them but it really creeps me out. Ewwww.
My students know I have tattoos. They have seen the one of my foot when I wear sandals. I have told them that I have three. They have become obsessed with the idea. For the past two days I have had my students quiz me on what they are, when I got them and where they are on my body. They spend the entire class period naming places on my body and what they could be. They talk about it in other classes. They come into my classroom on the way to another class to see if they guessed it or if I will just tell them. It is pretty entertaining especially because if you have seen a high school student lately, you will see tattoos of all sizes and on all places. It is not something unheard of anymore so I am not sure what the big deal is but it has made me laugh the past couple days.
These past couple weeks have been exhausting. I introduced two new projects in one week, one day after the other to be more exact. My supervisor came in and observed me introduce Pop Art to my 1-2 class. She took diligent notes, filmed me, and hung out after to let me know that I am doing well (that always is a good feeling). It didn't hurt that two of my students did a little research before the class to show off in front of my professor. It was amazing. Those two are amazing. They were killing it! Those are the days that makes all my bad days worth it.
Speaking of bad days.....two Mondays ago, I woke up and I was ready to take on the week. I walked out to my car and there was tagging on it. Not super excited about that. Took a couple days off that week to deal with everything. Mentally exhausting. That Friday, two teachers proposed that I help take over the AP Art History course work because the permanent faculty was out sick. Sure! I love art history! Oh, they are how far behind? Two weeks? And the test is when? In two weeks? Oh. And I need to prepare a review session? Pre-historic to Proto-Renaissance? Oh. Yeah I can do that. What was I thinking? I spent the entire weekend preparing. It is not that I didn't enjoy it, because, truthfully, I did, it was just exhausting. Tuesday was game day and I was A-MAZING! Those kids had no idea what hit them. That was a good day. However, the day before, Monday, was not a good day. My first class of the day, Block 3, pretty mellow. It can get loud some times but all in all, the kids are good....that is until two girls start throwing punches right behind me. So what do I do? I break up the fight, of course. That may not have been the best idea (I took some punches) but what was I going to do? Let them duke it out? No. Hair was pulled out. Earrings were discarded. Parts of my body were a little sore after but I got some high-fives from a couple students. Plus my Block 5 (which is after lunch) heard all about it and they were excited to see me to hear all of the details!
Back to art history: I am really enjoying getting into it and teaching the students why I love the subject. The kids are great and very thankful the extra work that I am putting in. I think they are finally figuring out that I know what I am talking about.
One more week of school at the University - maybe five more weeks at the high school. Can't wait for this all to be over and get paid to do this!
Today one of my 1-2 students came into my 3-4 class to work on some extra credit. He walks into the classroom and says, "Hi Ms. Stuart. How are you today?" Fine. "Are you sure? because I can beat them up if you aren't."
We have just finished up our clay unit and WOW did my kids make some cool stuff. Two of my students finished early. So I had them each make a bowl for extra credit. They finished that too. They asked if they could work together on another bowl. Sure, but it better be good. And so it is! These two students are a handful and I feel as though they have secret crushes on each other but they both deny it. I think this may prove them wrong....
I really hope I get to keep the bowl....
Another student, who probably has a D or F in the class but does his work (just never turns it in) had this amazing idea for a coil pot. Not exactly a complete coil pot but the idea was just to awesome to say no to.
Yesterday was my birthday. For the past couple weeks I have been joking with my students "so, what are you getting me for my birthday?" Well they pulled through. One student made me dozens of cupcakes. Two students brought me a yummy chocolate muffin for breakfast. Two students (who are not even mine) made me a card. A class that isn't mine (I was subbing one block) sang happy birthday to me. One student made me two CDs, one that he mixed on turn tables. My class sang happy birthday to me and I got many many hugs throughout the day. Great day!
This week we had Open House. That was awesome. So I usually wear jeans and a sweater or top to school because in one class or another we are working with clay. For Open House, I wore a dress and heels! My students would walk right past me because they didn't recognize me or they would do a double take. I don't think I could wear that every day though....way too much work to just get dirty. Today one of my students were telling others in the class what they missed out on...however she was a little disappointed that I didn't wear Toms that night.
Today I subbed for a couple teachers - one art and one film analysis. In my first class I took a kid's cell phone because he was making a phone call during class. He was mad. I told him that I didn't really care because that it is a school policy - no electronic devices. He then proceeded to tell me to f*%! off. Not the right move....especially if he wanted his cell phone back. After class he stayed to apologize ("not to get my phone back"). He said he was having a bad week - missed court dates, probability of going to jail, blah blah blah. Maybe he should go to jail. Still kept his phone. When I told another teacher the story, she said "I have heard that story so many times." I have heard versions in the past. How has that become the new "my dog ate my homework"?
In my second art class today, some kids were pretty much done with everything. Some students worked on extra credit. However, some of those kids finished that as well. So I told those kids to do something, anything. Draw. Read. Homework. Anything. He drew me a picture.
I said, "oh look, there are three of us." And he said, "yes, we all will live happily ever after." That is kind of creepy.
These past couple weeks have been very entertaining. I have had the opportunity to not only teach my art classes but also sub a couple classes during my down time (such as Spanish, Math, and Art History).
The fun begins with the Art History class I taught a couple weeks ago. Now, I earned my degree in Art History. I really like it. I may get a little too excited about it when talking with my students but it is what I love so I don't care. The other day, I was in the Art History teacher's classroom when it was brought to my attention that he needed a sub for the day because he was not feeling well. I jumped at the opportunity. I mean, this is what I have been going to school for. I wasn't really prepared but knowing this teacher he had to be prepared. So he set me up with a film on Baroque art (which is awful if you are not familiar with it) and his slides in case I wanted to lecture. The first two classes we watched the film as it was a great film that covered a lot of what they were covering in class. During the film I would add my two cents on important images or my personal experience with the art being shown. The comes lunch. A student comes into my classroom and tells me something like: "So I heard we are watching a film in class. I talked to my mom and since we aren't learning anything in class, she is okay with me going to the media center to do research. Is that okay with you?" Are you kidding me. Not learning anything! So I told her that if she was concerned about not learning anything I could lecture on the subject instead of watching the film. She still wanted to go to the media center. I told her I would mark her absent if she didn't show. She showed. So I made a point of telling my students that we had been watching a film but one student was concerned she wouldn't learn anything in class so I thought I would lecture. Class not too thrilled. I continued telling the class that I didn't want to cheat any of my students out of the education they deserved so I would lecture on Baroque art. However, it had been a while since I studied Baroque art so it may be painful but we would get through it! I kept bringing up her without naming her. After being heckled for five minutes, she broke and admitted to the class that it was her. Awesome. So I lectured and it wasn't that bad. I was kind of excited about it. Lesson learned: don't ask stupid questions.
I had a rough week last week. My students were loud and a little disrespectful of the classroom. Busts (from my 3-4 class) were knocked on the ground, heads fell, faces were smashed. It wasn't pretty. That night I decided to search all of my students on Facebook. That proved to be quiet entertaining as well as very educational. Two of my students that spend most of the class flirting with each other don't leave much to the imagination. I "discovered" that they really enjoy my art class because they get to write on each other's arms all class. So the next class period the girl was very upset that I did not allow her to move tables when they started their production. I told the entire class that they were to stay in their assigned seats since the last class was a little out of control. She was not happy about this. I then proceeded to tell her that I would be much happier if she enjoyed my class because of all the cool things we do and make, not because she gets to write on another student's arm the entire class. She was shocked. She wasn't sure how I had found this out. I continued to tell her that she should be aware of the things she says, especially on places like Facebook, because people can see these things. She freaks out. Doesn't know what to say. Her first response is "But my profile is private. How did you see that?" First I told her I had spies. Then I told her that I my old job was working with computers. She was convinced I had hacked into her Facebook account. It was awesome. Another student had heard the conversation. He asked me if I had really looked at her profile. I told him I had. He gave me a high five. A HIGH FIVE! He told me I was amazing for doing that. My students now think I am a computer hacker...can it get any better?
Friday one of my students (the one who gave me a high five) told me that when he graduates (which is this year) he is going to miss my class the most. He said that he has been to four schools in the past four years and out of everything he is going to miss my class the most. That made me smile. I guess that is why I do what I do.
What is with kids and clay? It is as though all rules are thrown out the window and the classroom turns into chaos. I don't get it. The first project was a pinch pot they made into a bell. Today one student asked me what happened to his bell. I asked what it looked like. He told me a mushroom. I told him that it broke. It did break. He didn't assemble it very well. However, I noticed it looked more like a "shroom" than a "mushroom" so I threw it away. I warned my students over and over again, that they will only make projects suitable for the classroom and that sometimes accidents happen and I would HATE for their project to break/explode in the kiln/go missing. So I pointed out that his "mushroom" looked like a "shroom" and his response was "how did you know?" So the kid basically admitted to making a shroom and then wondered why it was no longer there. HA!
Today we worked on slab boxes. This means that you have to make slabs out of clay and then assemble the slabs into a box. Not difficult. To a student, it seems like the most difficult thing. This is especially true if you tell the students they cannot do something that already exists, like SpongeBob SquarePants or McDonald's french fries. So what did I get? French fries. Oreos. Tons of cup cakes. Mushrooms. Now, I had shown them an example of a mushroom, and I got more mushrooms. I would tell the student to not do a mushroom and I would get a response like "but it is not like that one, it is going to be like a Mario Brothers mushroom." So this mushroom is from a video game? Yep. Awesome.
Now if I wasn't presented a mushroom or cup cake, I got a lot of responses such as "I don't know what to do. What should I do?" It is not my project, I don't have to come up with the idea for you. "Ms. Stuart, you are not very creative." Again, not my project. WOW.
So a little bit of everything has been going on in the classroom the past few weeks. In my 1-2 class we are starting up a ceramic project or a series of and with my 3-4 class we are finishing up the Renaissance busts they have been working on for the past two months. So here it is, a mixed bag of random conversations:
Last week, one of my students, let's call him Joe (well, not really mine but my master teacher's - he knows who I am because I gave him an uniform violation when I subbed one of his classes, which turned into a detention, which then turned into another detention, which then turned into a referral - bummer for him), came into the restaurant I work in (a girl has to make a living somehow....it is not like I am getting paid to student teacher). I don't mind my students coming into my restaurant. Most of my kids know that I am a waitress. Some have even said they were going to come in one night, although none have. Anyway, this kid comes in with his family and waves hi to me. I just laughed. He doesn't sit in my section but keeps saying "don't spit in my food." HA! The next day I see him at school, he asked me if I was embarrassed that one of my students came into the restaurant I work in. Following that with "I would be." Jackass.
The beginning of this week, one of Joe's friends, who is my student (the Valentine guy), approaches me and says, "so what were you and Joe talking about when he came into your restaurant?" Nothing I tell him. He then jumps in and says "but Joe said that you two talked a lot." Not really. "You had to have talked to him about something." I told his family that he should come to school in his uniform. "Ms. Stuart, what did you and Joe talk about?!" It was killing him. Made me laugh...on the inside because laughing at him would have been mean.
In my 1-2 classes, we started using clay. I do not know what it is, but high school boys have serious issues with clay. They cannot get through clay lessons without making crude jokes. Yesterday we started making a pinch pot. For those of you who are not familiar with making a pinch pot, one must make a ball of clay (jokes ranging from "Ms. Stuart, is my ball big enough?" to "Ms. Stuart, my ball is bigger than his" to "balls"). After making a ball of clay, you have to stick your thumb or finger in the clay to start pinching it and forming the pot. I am sure most of you can imagine what happens when you have to state that you need to stick you finger in the ball of clay and then demo this. It is not easy to keep a straight face with all of this going on. Then there is demonstrating how to use your fingers to smooth the inside of the pot and so on. You almost feel dirty after all of this, especially when you tell them that they are going to get dirty and they laugh. Once I was subbing for a ceramics class and I was teaching three boys how to wedge clay (to get the air bubbles out) and their "interest" in me wedging clay was too much that I just walked away. They were just staring at me. Ewww.
Today we "gave birth" to some of our Renaissance busts. This is the end of the project. This is huge! "Giving birth" is when we remove the bust from the armature. This is a painful process. Many times the head falls off. Some times we have to perform surgery and cut the bust in half and remove it in sections. No one likes this but it is clay and easily fixed. I am helping this girl remove her bust from the armature. We get the bust off the armature. I tell her "congratulations!" She responds, "look! it is a girl!" Hehe.
I can't believe I almost forgot this one: one of my girl students in my 1-2 class looks at me Monday and asks, "Ms. Stuart, does birth control have any bad side effects?" IN FRONT OF HER ENTIRE TABLE. Who does that? I directed her to her doctor or parents or even the nurse. She asks me again. I tell her, again, that she should talk to her doctor or parents about it. I wasn't ready for that. It was 9:30am and I was sick (still kind of am....my students gave me their cooties), a little slow and not able to think fast enough. I just stared at her, thinking: really? You are going to ask me that now? Do you not care what people think? (She is a freshman...I don't think that is something you announce at that age...or maybe you do now?) Do you expect me to sit down at your table and have this conversation in the middle of class? She just kept looking at me with this big eyes waiting for an answer. I finally said, if you really want to have that discussion, see me after class. This is not the time or place. I have a feeling that question is going to come up again. I should really be prepared...but if I ignore this and pretend it won't happen again, am I off the hook?
Today we did a pre-test on color. I did this really for only one reason: I had to do a pre-test for school to analyze pre- and post-lesson knowledge but it ends up that this was very entertaining. Here are some of my favorite question/answers (this is exactly how they answered, spelling and all):
Q: How many colors are in the color wheel?
Q: What are the three main groups of colors that make up the color wheel? (primary was given)
A: primary, secondary and legendary
A: primary, dark, light
A: primary, secondary, post-secondary
Q: If you mix two primary colors what do you get?
A: another color
A: the opposite of a primary
Q: What is it called when you add white to a color?
A: adding white
Q: What would it be called if you added black to your color?
A: darker color
A: adding black
Q: Yellow, blue and red are called what kind of colors?
My first project (pine needle baskets) was due on Friday. My master teacher gives the students a due date but allows them to take about 1-2 weeks outside of class to complete the project; the project must meet the criteria in order to be graded but no points are taken away for late work. My first class turned in seven out of thirty-two students. Not awful but not great. However, my second class turned in one. That's right, one. As in 1. I have thirty-one students in that class and one student turned in work. Yikes! So today we are back at school after another three day weekend and three students came in during lunch to work on their projects. Three! So by week's end I may have five baskets. What the hell!!! No wonder so many kids are failing art. I mean really? It is a pine needle basket. They have had about one month to make a six by three inch basket. And I get eight (8!) total out of sixty-three (63!) students. That is not even 15% (12.7% to be exact) of the students. WOW.
I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how I feel. Ever since you became our teacher my odd days have become the highlight of my week. Every day I walk in the door my breath is taken by your beautiful eyes and gorgeous smile. I'm sorry this card was last minute but I hope you like it all the same. I spend my even days just counting down the days until I see you. "My heart's in over drive and your behind the stearing wheel..."
Happy Valentine's Day.
And if you are wondering if there was a spelling error, I am hoping
that answer is yes. That would be awful if there wasn't.
Today was my first day teaching as "the teacher" not just a substitute. It was a long day as we had to cover all eight classes (we are usually on block schedule). I only had to teach three but it was exhausting! Thirty-five minutes to do anything in art is just not enough time.
I had a great time! I introduced myself and my metal work. The students were receptive to my introduction and I can't wait to get to know all of them. The next couple weeks are going to be slightly easier as I am finishing up a project they are already working on, however, when I start my own lesson from start to finish, it will be a little nerve racking. I can't wait!
I am always amazed at how kids act these days. I have been substitute teaching for years and every now and then there is one kid who feels that rules don't apply to them. I don't have many rules as a sub...no cell phones and no profanity. Not difficult. However, I seem to have to remind my students that the classroom is not a place for profanity, especially not towards me.
Today I had the wonderful experience of being called a bitch after telling my student (numerous times) to put away their cell phones. I even looked at the girl and said that I would hate to have to take someone's cell phone so put them away. Then she called me a bitch. WOW. Is that really necessary? This never happens in my art classes. There are times I question my own excitement for teaching.
I have been substitute teaching for the past two years. I have seen the good, the bad, and the stupid. I have taught art, biology, drama, economics, social studies, health and government. I have taught in middle school (hope to never do that again) and high school. I have had students take referrals over changing their seats. I have been told to f@*! off for taking a student's phone. I have had students come to class with casts on - when asked what happened, I was told the student was stabbed. I have been given excuses of tardiness due to fighting ninjas to save a princess. After watching a film on the influenza epidemic, I had a student tell me he wasn't feeling well due to emphysema "like in the film." None of this will prepare me for what is in store for me in the next 20 weeks (starting the 25th of January). I will have three 3-d art classes. Mine. Every day. For 20 weeks.