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Where did I go?

January 11, 2016

The prompt to re-visit my blog and start blogging again is inspired by my last Graduate class before I graduate from Lesley University…… I hope to continue sharing the process, the practice and the thought process of a high school art teacher.  To  better understand where the heck I disappeared to, please read on.

Once upon a time, I was an Elementary Art teacher.  I spent ten years working with K-5 students.  Every day was exciting and busy.  I arrived at school a little early each day so that I could prepare my materials and be ready for my little artists to walk through my door.  I was challenged to teach art to my students once a week for 40 minutes.  I worked hard to make sure my lessons were well thought out and executed effectively.

One day, I woke up and felt comfortable with my job.  I had established a strong curriculum, had felt successful at teaching 400+ students once a week.  I stopped feeling the need to stay after school for long hours preparing lesson plans.   It no longer felt challenging and I didn’t feel the charge or inspiration I once had.   That was a sign it was time for a new challenge.

When I began teaching, I always planned to one day teach High School Art.  Elementary Art was where I wanted to start and it helped me grow and develop my teaching practice.  High School was my next stepping stone; my next challenge.

I gave up a full time teaching position to transfer to the High School Part Time art teacher position.  The Visual Arts program at the High School had been reduced to Part Time two years prior to my transfer.  I was ready to move in and strengthen the program and make it full time again.

The classroom I moved into had 35+ years of history.  Not only did the class room look like it hadn’t been cleaned out in 35 years, I found objects, old art works, and dust that was older than me.  I stood in the space and felt like I didn’t really belong.

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I spent weeks going through boxes, cupboards, drawers and shelves.  I  sat in that space and absorbed the notion that this was already the start of a new challenge.  I learned that art teachers really do hoard anything that might possibly end up in a piece of art.  I cleaned, I cried out of frustration, I cleaned more and finally felt that I had created my own space to start my new career as a High School Art Teacher.

This is the middle of my third year teaching at Telstar High School.  I used to be consistent with my blog posts because I had established a solid routine when teaching Elementary Art.  My weekly schedule allowed me time to post on my bog…..until I wanted a new challenge.   My new teaching job didn’t allow me time to post on my blog.   I was so busy creating new art lessons, trying new curriculum, re-learning how to manage a classroom, re-learning how to teach.  I was learning how to work and teach High School age students.  It was all very challenging.

I would be lying if I said these new challenges were all fun.  There were days I left and questioned my move to secondary education.  There were days I questioned if I was even a good teacher any more.  There were days I wondered if I had thick enough skin to handle the High School Student attitude.

I still wonder and question if I am any good at teaching High School.  I still love teaching but it is still a challenge.  I am half way through my third year of teaching and I am just starting to come up for air.  My classroom has finally taken shape into what I feel is a comfortable space.  I finally feel like I belong in the room.

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A new challenge has been placed in front of me.  Some of the challenges of changing grade levels have been won and there are some that still remain.  Those that still challenge me, I have kept as challenges on purpose.  I don’t ever want to reach that “comfortable” place as a teacher.  I want to continue to learn new ways to teach, find exciting teaching tools, and learn just as much as my student do.

 

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