Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the art of looking sideways

It's only Tuesday and I already feel absolutely exhausted. I haven't been sleeping well (that is, I fall asleep at some embarrassingly early hour and then wake up around 2am and stare at the walls until I fall asleep again at 5.30am before being disturbed again by the alarm a half hour later - fun). I need to learn the 'stay asleep' technique. How do people *do* that?

Monday I finally gave in and started my unit of clay with the preps. Good christ, I know now why I've been avoiding it for so long citing 'they're not ready' as the reason. Actually, the truth is, *I'm* not ready. I think I spent about 5 minutes talking about how eating clay is bad, very bad, VERY, VERY BAD KIDS - NEVER EAT CLAY. Until they were all looking at me like I'd eaten the crazy cake (again). They loved it though. Kids love clay (and no it wasn't raku gold this time Phil, it was just normal white earthenware clay).

They love poking it, rolling it, banging it and throwing it - wait..no they get in trouble when they throw it - anyway, they love it. I was a bit of a nazi about them cleaning up (did a good job considering they are 5 years old). I let them all take a piece home to play with. Today I had grade 3s and 4s all day and one of them found a bit of clay wrapped in foil that someone must have left behind from the prep class - and she begged me until I let her have it. I guess EVERYONE loves clay. If I ever have my little sperm doner baby I will definitely invest in a 7 buck bag of clay and have much fun making little garden ornaments. Despite all the fun and games and me having done clay with all the grades now, I still have no idea what I'm doing! I was reading up on it right before the class and getting all nervous about fucking up in front of the 5 year olds and ruining clay forever for them. How ridiculous - kids are pretty accepting when you fuck up. They're always doing it so it's like you're one of them. I remember when in the classroom doing modelled journal writing I used to make mistakes on purpose so they wouldn't feel so bad about making mistakes themselves. Of course then they'd point out all the mistakes I made when I wasn't trying to make them and embarrass me. Bloody cheek!

Anyway, there really should have be nothing to worry about re: the clay class - but there I was anyway, trying desperately to remember all the little things I wanted them to do, failing miserably and just winging it. It's amazing how much 'winging it' I do in the art role. Sure, despite comicbookgrl evidence to the contrary I can sketch okay, but apart from that I'm reading books and trying to sound knowledgable when actually I'm the world's biggest fraud. I'm amazed that the kids' artwork comes out as good as it does. Nothing to do with me, let me tells ya.

I had a phone call the other day from an art teacher from another school asking for help with some art issues she's having. I was a bit taken aback because what do I know? But she insisted that I was a lot of help with her issue. I mentioned this garden project that's happening at the school and she offered to help me plan the pathway that we're making and give me all sorts of tips about how to get it done. She has done a similar project at her school.

If there's one thing I've discovered from being the art teacher it's that fellow art teachers are so much more helpful than classroom teachers. Classroom teachers have a point to prove - they have parents to impress and at the end of the year it's a badge of honour to have parents ask to be in your grade the next year. While there is a lot of teamwork going on, there's also an added dimension of competition between classes and between schools. The art role is lovely and different. Firstly, I'm the one and only, absolute head honcho of art. There's noone to compete against and you teach all the kids regardless of whether parents want you to or not, so actually I don't care about impressing them (quite refreshing). Secondly, art is HUGE, there is so much to organise and get done and noone understands this but other art teachers. I think everyone else thinks it's al fun and games. Since art teachers understand eachother so well they're always willing to help out with ideas and truly don't mind if you steal them and use them in your own program. The teacher who rang me told me about all the difficult things she's been through as an art teacher that noone else understood about. We bonded instantly through shared experience. I feel really lucky that I've seen both sides of the coin in teaching.

One day when I'm prin of my own little community school filled with children who are creative thinkers and parents who don't care so much about standarised testing I'll look back with fond memories on this time (or perhaps I'll be in a mental institute by then). But for now, there's a lot of shit to clean up.

ps: Here's a couple of limited edition photos of the garden stakes I was making with the grade 1s and 2s at the school. I apologise for the crappy quality of photos but my camera was playing up. The good photos are on the camera at school. If I can be bothered I'll post some of them when I get to school.