As I finish up my first two weeks of in person teaching, I feel tired, but motivated. I feel tired and so do all the teachers beside me. COVID-19 has changed the classroom layout completely and caused management, structure, and routine to change. Before the students came back, my mentor teacher and I had to prepare the classroom. We had to create plexiglass barriers for each table while adding an additional table to the layout. I had to learn how to adapt quickly because schedules, policies, and times changed constantly. We began the week with new projects, starting with fourth grade, STEAM Circuit Pyramids. We introduced optical illusions and knew that two dimensional projects would make transitions easier. I have learned that three dimensional projects are very difficult in the circumstances Poudre School District has unless the teacher has additional hands like a student teacher. For fifth grade, we are creating our own desserts/candies through Crayola’s Model Magic Clay, Kindergarten created clay pinch pots, First grade made their own paper with tissue paper pulp, Second grade designed their own animals with egg carton heads, and finally, third grade created their own clay fish.
The past two weeks have been nothing but chaos for many reasons. To begin, this is my first time managing all classes while being exposed to the entire school. I must wear an N95 mask, another mask, and then a face shield. As I wear all the protection, I have to speak in a teacher voice volume while walking around the room in a constant fast pace. By the end of the day, I am drained, out of breath, and physically exhausted from the constant sanitizing. It was hard for me to focus on the relationships I was beginning to build because I was nervous about teaching fully in person and the amount of new management, I had to develop for COVID-19. These events have caused me to recognize and refresh why I am teaching in the first place. My motivation, drive and passion is simple: I want to help students learn physical, mental, and social skills that will help them move forward in their lives. Even though I am going through tough situations and circumstances, I still would not walk away from this career. Art is so important, and it has been brought to the light ever since COVID-19. The moment the learning goal clicks in a student’s head, when students have collaborative discussion, or give you a piece of their art to keep, I am reminded why I love what I do.
I am constantly receiving feedback from my mentor teacher and the results from my previous lessons. I think that I am continuing my success in that area because I am not closing in perspectives and am listening when someone has additional advice to give. Something that I would like to continue working on is my instruction. I have noticed that I am still designing lessons that fit my needs, not my students. I understand that the lessons sound interesting and fun to me, but I need to put myself in the student’s shoes. I need to work on recognizing the students body language to see what students need clarification and guidance.
As an individual, I am learning that I am teaching in a very intense environment. I get to attend a Poudre School District Art Teacher Chat every week where teachers can process, seek advice, and have a sense of community. Teachers always state that it feels like their first year of teaching because it is so stressful. They have also told me that if I am adaptive and working hard, I will get through anything. It is very helpful and affirming to hear that from teachers who have been in this field for years. Routine and structure has been a huge benefit to this chaotic time and I am thankful I get to focus on teaching, designing engaging lessons, and developing relationships with students. For my future teaching, I am collecting a box full of tools to have at any moment. For every tricky situation with instruction, behavior, conflict, and unexpected event, I will know what to do.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been focusing on mindfulness and the importance for Art Educators to practice art. To center myself, calm down, and meditate, I weave. For this post, I would like to share the weaving I did throughout the past couple of weeks after school.