I am an art TEACHER

Do you ever want to shout "I AM A CLASSROOM TOO" or "I AM A TEACHER TOO"?

I feel like this here and there.  Most times I don't feel singled out or less of a teacher than grade level teachers - but every once in a while things add up and suddenly I feel like I'm backed in a corner trying to fight my way out - trying to prove and explain that just because I teach art doesn't make me any less of a teacher or any less of a classroom.

Generally when schedules are running smoothly and people are less stressed - specials teachers get treated with respect and equality(in my experience) - but the moment things get rough or a planning period is in jeopardy, even by a few minutes, suddenly it feels as though specials teachers are less important - that what we are doing with the kids is just fluff and that our job is to babysit and entertain the kids so that planning times can be had.

I may not directly teach reading, writing, or math - but what I do is important.  I may not teach anything that can be 'graded' with numbers or be graphed on a standardized test, but I teach students life skills that they use in general education rooms.  Students learn valuable skills in my room, not just how to mix colors or draw in perspective (which honestly is super hard), but they learn how to cope when their ideas don't pan out.  They learn how to ask for help, how to visualize, how to plan ahead.  Students learn to preserver - students learn stamina in the art room.  They learn to create something completely original by combining new and prior knowledge - a skill they need in writing for sure.

I realize that walking into my room it looks all fun and games - I understand that when I hang up pictures in the hall they they often look as though all we did was cut a glue paper.  Those pictures represent so much more than the end product.  Those pictures represent all the skills they need to learn new things in the general ed room.

What I do matters.  What I do is needed.  If for no other reason, I do what I do because there is that one student in each class that lives their week for art class.  There is always that one kid that can't read well, that numbers don't make sense, friendships may be hard to make and keep - but art they can do.  Art is where they are smart, confident, at home - art is the one place they feel okay taking risks.

Creativity is one the number one things CEO's and other job hunters are after for their companies.  Our country feeds and runs off of innovators and inventors, and we are in a creativity crisis.  How do you teach creativity?  I often times feel you can't teach creativity, but that you have to practice and experience creativity.  I don't think creativity can be taught in one particular class or by filling out worksheets, but rather it is a process.  Students need time to try and be creative by having open ended experiences while melding their prior and new learning so that they take risks.  I love when a kid comes up to me with a sparkle in their eye and say, "Ms Novak can I try...." or "Ms. Novak can I add...."  That is creativity when they start thinking outside the box and give something new a try, a chance.

I know creativity happens in general education rooms, but I tend to feel it doesn't happen quite the same was as it does in the art room.  I am passionate about what I do and what I teach.  There is value and purpose in my planning and lessons.

All of you out there - please support your ARTs teachers and remember that they are indeed TEACHERS.


Clay - Set Design - Update

WHOA! Where did March go?!  I didn't realize that I had not posted in WEEKS.  This month has blown by.  Our 5th grade production is in less than two weeks and that has taken up A LOT of extra time - not to mention I was brilliant and decided to do clay this month with all 800 or so of my students!  As my 95 year old grandma would say, 'GoodNITE'.

So, I have mentioned, many times, our 5th grade production.  In addition to teaching 6 classes everyday - every Tuesday morning for the last couple of months I have about 25 students that come to my room during my normal 'prep' time and have SET DESIGN class.  We have been busy painting and building set pieces for the show.  The truffula trees are complete, the background is ALMOST done, and the building we need for the last scene was started this last week.  I am blessed to be able to do set design work at my job - as I was a technical theatre major for a short time in college and have worked in the scene shop building sets all through high school and college.  Though, as much as I do love it - I am ready for the show to be here and done!  I really would like my room back - it is a DISASTER! 

The 5th Graders did a pretty awesome job painting this - I have been going back through and outlining their work.  I didn't originally want to outline this masterpiece for two reasons: 1) Things in real life aren't outlined in black. 2) There are A LOT of books to outline.  I did end up outlining because having 30 or so ten-year-old students paint it - the lines weren't as crisp as they needed to be to make it make sense.  They did a fantastic job - just needed some touch ups.  The backdrop for the show is the school's media (library) center.  The dinosaurs and cars are from prior years - projects done in class or for other 5th grade shows!  I can't wait to finally finish it and hang it up in the Cafetorium! 

As far as all my other classes, they have all been building and glazing their clay masterpieces.  Here is the breakdown - (individual posts about each project to come)

Kindergarten -- Pinch pots with lids or handles.
1st Grade -- Pinch pot WIDE mouth animals.
2nd Grade -- Handbells
3rd Grade -- Spirit Balls
4th Grade -- Spirit Balls
5th Grade -- Bobble Heads.


Truffula Trees - 5th Grade Production "Mystery of the Midnight Thief"

I haven't updated in a while - I apologize.  I had a post all ready to go and realized I don't have pictures of the project downloaded onto my computer yet!  Whoops!

Things have been busy with mid-winter break, snow days, and 5th grade production.  March is the craziest, busiest month EVER at our school.  Whew.  I will earn my Spring Break!

Well, with the 5th grade production almost on my doorstep I took some extra minutes today between classes to finish up the Truffula Trees for the Seuss scene in our show!

These turned out pretty great and are far steadier than I was expecting!

It's amazing what tomato cages, paper mache, water bottles, tissue paper and some square fencing can become!