Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Birthday, or "Self Pondering"

Friday, September 18, 2009
So I had my thirty-second birthday this week (: It's been cause for much self speculation.

I'm back in school after a 7 year hiatus. My children are both in school. My husband is in school. I'm creating art for the first time in almost a dozen years.... the same can be said for dancing (outside of Belly dancing and SCA court dancing (; ). I'm finally working towards becoming a teacher (but I'll get to that more in a minute). And as I looked back on the years of my life, I realized that I'm finally the age on the outside that I've pretty much always
been on the inside (lol).

In retrospect, I'm sure that explains a lot for how I was a child growing up. I actively participated in conversations with adults from the time I was 7. Perhaps had more responsibilities than most 7-10 year olds, and could honestly be trusted with it. Helped make my first lesson plan when I was in 9th grade. At 15, had people stopping to tell me that I had beautiful daughters, referring to my sisters (one of which is 14 years younger than I, and the other only 13 -months- younger). Graduating from high school, getting my class ring, and constantly being asked what college I'd attended. Never being carded for alcohol.

As for how I celebrated this monumental birthday:

The Saturday before, Mark and our boys took me to Ryan’s for dinner (:

The day before, I gave a rockin' speech for my speech and interview into the Teacher's Education Program. The day of, my oldest sang me, “Happy Birthday!” and my youngest picked me flowers. I also brought in my rockin’ sphere for Art class (:It’s amusing, but a little tiring, to be accused of being an over-achiever 3 times in 2 days, in different classes, by different people, who don’t even know each other (lol).

To be honest, I was a little worried about the speech, as I needed to create a speech that was 5-8 minutes long....and haven't completed a single education class (though I'm currently enrolled in 3). So I chose the topic, "What Is the Difference between a Good Art Teacher and a Great Art Teacher?" You'd be amazed at the wealth of information you can find on Google doing a search for "what makes a good teacher?", and equally amazed at how little there is, when doing a search for "the difference between a good teacher and a great one" (as most people use good and great synonymously.) After reading and synthesizing (Thanks for the word Mr. Percy!) over 20 websites worth of information on Friday, I came to school on Monday, sat down after class, and created my speech an hour and half before I needed to present it.

Here's the result:

What Is the Difference Between a GOOD Art Teacher & A GREAT Art Teacher?

A GOOD Art Teacher is organized & prepared; has clear written out objectives and minimizes distractions. Enjoys the job & has control of the class: can have a laugh & still maintain order. Encourages & engenders respect & safety for everyone: The students are well behaved, on task (most of the time), & learning.

A Good art teacher MUST be patient, fair, approachable & open-minded. MUST have moral strength & commitment to education. MUST be understanding, compassionate & empathetic. MUST connect with the students & recognize that they are PEOPLE too-- with all the variety, hardships & joys that that entails.

A Good art teacher should be PERSONALLY talented in at least one area of art, be it fine arts, graphic arts, crafts, photography, etc. Also needs to be an effective communicator & displays the students’ art.

A Good art teacher will produce students with an appropriate art vocabulary, and an introduction to a variety of materials & uses so that they can experiment with different methods.

A Good art teacher doesn’t grade TALENT: grades participation, effort, use of materials & media and the ability to follow directions.

…So what about a GREAT Art Teacher?

--Ah, now a GREAT Art Teacher does ALL of that, and so much more!

A GREAT Art Teacher is filled with PASSION: Passion for art, for teaching, and for learning. Looks forward to & enjoys each and every lesson: Treats every lesson like it’s the first time…because, for the students, it IS. Gets the students to see BEYOND the immediate results—back into the past and into the future. Inspires students to see the connections between Art, the world around them, and the other classes that they take: the balance of nature & science, the symmetry of mathematics, the harmony of music, language & literature. To see that Art crosses the boundaries of time & space & is not limited to a single person, experience, or culture.

A Great Art Teacher inspires their students to get involved in their
communities—City murals, local art competitions, local and national organizations—and actively participate in the arts themselves. Advocates the arts, and inspires the students to do so as well.

In the hands of a Great Art Teacher, the classroom comes ALIVE! The teacher & students are animated & involved. Students ask questions, create answers, discuss ideas, think and become contributing factors in their own education. A Great Art Teacher learns right along with their students. Lets them explore, make mistakes & find their OWN solutions. As Mr. Percy likes to quote, “There are NO mistakes in Art—Only Possibilities!”

A Great Art Teacher understands that the art of teaching is to able to breakdown SKILLS into manageable components. And understands that Education is about inspiring a lifelong love of learning, to help students reach their full potential and opening up their options and possibilities. As John Lubbock said, “If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow.” In Art, in every other subject, and in life.



It was only 5 minutes long. The group of peers that were there to observe and rate me on it paid me some of the best compliments I could have hoped to receive (: 1. That they love my voice and that I’m a good speaker. And 2. That they wanted copies of my speech to put on their wall to inspire them (:

It was followed by a brief Q&A Interview session. And then another of my peers had her interview section. As I listened to Victoria answering questions, I heard that she had completed high school with a GREAT Science Teacher. The only great teacher that she had, until college. And as I drove home, at the end of the meeting, I speculated on my great teachers.

As I thought, I realized that I am, educationally, the product of my learning.

I believe the first lessons came from my mother and Grandma Betty. The basic belief that no one is better than me. And I am not better than anyone else; Which led to the second basic belief that is, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” And, “If anyone can do it, so can I.”


Before graduating high school, I can count, and remember –fourteen- different great teachers that influenced me.

From one of a dozen kindergarten classes, I had teachers that created special ‘extra’ projects for me, after completing the assigned work. I still remember learning how to make God’s Eyes from that (:

Or on to my third grade music teacher, who combined music with the subjects we were learning—singing the names of the states in alphabetical order, and songs to memorize the names and order of the planets—believe it or not, but BOTH of those came in quite handy in later school years. Even the process of teaching us to create our own pneumonic devices (:

My fifth grade teacher that combined art, acting, and music in some form with practically EVERY subject that we learned. Mrs. Waters, my sixth grade science teacher, who started the very first day of class, introducing herself as Mrs. H2O (: My seventh grade social studies teacher. My ninth grade English teacher and my ninth grade earth sciences teacher, tenth grade Biology teacher, eleventh grade US History teacher, twelfth grade teachers for Psychology, Math, Chemistry, English and most importantly, ART.

See, I’d had a bad experience with Art when I was in third grade. I loved art—my mother, Grandma Betty, & Aunt Karen are all VERY artistically inclined, and shared that love with me. But in third grade, I had an art teacher who wanted everyone’s potato prints to look the same—and I didn’t want to make a star. I wanted to make swirls. And she reprimanded me for it, told me I was doing it wrong. I decided then and there that I didn’t like art classes—and avoided them after that, continuing to draw, color, paint, and make collages on my own.

When I got to be a senior in high school, and was going to a completely different school (yet again), I decided to try to give Art classes another try, as I’d come to realize I’d taught myself everything I could, and I needed further guidance. So when I was registering for classes, I brought my portfolio (though at the time, I didn’t know that was what it was called when you brought your previous work with you (lol)) and asked to skip the introductory class and take Art II and III at the same time.

I was approved, and Mrs. Hardwick is one of the –best- high school art teachers I could possibly been graced with (: She introduced me to a variety of techniques I’d never conceived of. And allowed me to grow as an artist, and a person.

Anyway, all of that to say that I’m an integrated thinking student, from a wealth of integrated thinking teachers (:

I love learning. In almost all of its forms. I love art. In all of its varieties—Visual, Performing, Music. And I’m really enjoying my classes (: ALL of them (:

I’m truly happy, TRULY happy with what I’m doing in my life for the first time in 3 years. And it makes me wonder how I could have stopped. How I could stand to stop. “No time” is a great catch all… but you have to MAKE time for the things that matter to you (: And it turns out that I can enjoy my family, friends, and education towards a job I know I’ll truly love, all at the same time (: What greater present could I ask, for my birthday?

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