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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

Posts from the teaching Category

 

Almost Friday. Been trying to keep my head above water and not get too overwhelmed by all that needs to be done at work. Teaching seems to have taken over everything lately. Today it felt really hard as I left the house at 6am to barely make it in time for a meeting with parents before 7. It’s easy to get emotionally drained when you’re also dealing with some of these kids’ personal struggles. Especially when you don’t know how—you’re not trained—to help. Looking forward to relaxing & refocusing this weekend.

Wow. What a week. Kudos to all the teachers starting up again. I’m finally coming up for air.

The change from working in my room by myself this summer to suddenly interacting with 160+ teenagers for 10+ hours a day totally throws me off. Things I need to remember in order for survive next week – drink lots of water! I’ve been so dehydrated. But I feel like things are settling down and hopefully I can carve out some time to have a little fun, watch Another Earth, take pictures, and decompress!

Happy Friday!

With teaching, the little organizational tips I pick up along the way make a world of difference. This year, I made a step-by-step photo guide for forming a slab cup with pressed designs and labeled the glazes with text and color swatches. Last year, I spent a significant amount of time answering questions about how each glaze would look.

Okay, it doesn’t cut down all redundant questions. See the lids with only the the color swatches, I still had to direct confused students to read the label, but this year’s clay has run much more smoothly and after this tomorrow, I can say goodbye to dust in my food, hair, and clothes!

Teaching has been interesting. The first two years are a blur, and I was too busy and excited to get burnt out. It has definitely tested my patience, made me a little more organized, and kept me on my toes. I still tend to allow the one bad incident to taint the day versus all the good things that happen, but I’m starting to see how everyday is a fresh start even with the ones that try me the most.

This year I could no longer do the 4-5 hours of sleep and bringing home work every single day including weekends. I’ve given myself more breaks- sometimes not doing work after dinner, sleeping in on weekends, and taking naps. It allows me to spend more time with my family, friends, and personal work and I really think it has made a huge difference in my overall moral. In the back of my mind, I am a little nervous about what next year brings with the budget cuts and increase in enrollments looming ahead, but I’m crossing my fingers that there won’t be too many changes.

Few things that have distracted me from work stress:

  • Bailey Doesn’t Bark cups from Jackie. How did you know we were running out of/breaking our cups?
  • Scoring a super comfortable Herman Miller Eames office chair to paint and sew in.
  • Learning how to bead. I strung together some practice shapes.
  • Sometimes I have to be dragged to a movie because I’m a homebody. But we saw Jane Eyre last night and it was beautifully shot, touching, and funny. Of course, I cried and jumped a few times.

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It’s been a little slow to get my room ready for Monday. So after playing volleyball Saturday morning, I recruited BJ to come to school and pitch in. (Thank you1 Thank you!) We hung up some chalkboard decal, work by Andrew Bannecker, Mike Perry’s zine, Readymade WPA style posters, and one of my student’s NAHS promo poster to balance out the more traditional posters in the room. And B made sure the students could see my slight name change.

What we’ve been up to: cooking breakfast almost every day (and sometimes having it for lunch & dinner), using the immersion blender to make orange-blueberry smoothies, hanging out with Igby who loves to exert herself and her little legs running up the stairs, discovering that all the smudges on our window were from Igby rubbing her dirty nose against it while spying on the neighbors, stuffing ourselves at White Linen Nights, celebrating Brandi’s birthday with filet mignon and red snapper at Del Frisco’s for Houston Restaurant Week, playing sand volleyball with our family, watching several episodes of So You Think You Can Dance on Hulu (That would be me. Go Lauren!), falling in love with The Kids Are All Right, and getting back to the grind with lesson plans, cleaning my classroom, and mini but fewer “omg it’s coming so soon” freak outs.

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This summer is going by way too fast and we’re getting pretty frustrated that there are way too few hours in the day after we get back from work, make dinner, clean, etc. This +  all of the other things going on has put us in a little funk.

With the school year approaching, I’ve been filling a lot of professional development hours with workshops. Some are not so exciting but still helpful—like the two-day sessions on classroom discipline. And others—like the ones at the MFAH and Glassell—are much more enjoyable and relevant. The sessions were only a few hours each, but I got to dabble in collograph printing, pinhole cameras, enameling, ceramics, and, well, just having some fun. It was just the boost/kick in the butt I needed, and now BJ and I are considering taking an evening class during the school year.

sourpower2Instant pick me up. I used to by these by the strip, but I spied a bulk pack at Candylicious in the Rice Village.

watercolor plate2Our plates and cups seem to be chipping at record rates. I wish I knew how to do something like this.

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I tried enameling for the first time and decided to do something simple and not so “art teacher”. You know what I mean?

glassell pinholes 2Yes! Got to go back into the darkroom and learned how to use a paint can as a pinhole camera. The weather and lighting were unpredictable, but I still had fun shooting in the sculpture garden.

work in progress2Working on a few projects and still figuring out my footing.

hah. excuse all the hand shots. not feeling so creative. again.

I woke up at 5:50am Saturday morning in a cussing storm because I’d slept through one alarm. And I was laying on my cell phone so that its alarm would have awakened me if my back hadn’t been pressing snooze! Luckily, I live super-close to work so I was just a few minutes late to leave for our state art competition. This is the mayhem that went on all day:

This year 2,000 of 24,000 pieces submitted advanced to state. It’s always a little odd for me when I go to this event because not too long ago my friends and I were here running around the campus and nervously awaiting our results. Some of my best memories from high school took place here.

A lot has changed within those few years—mainly how people view the student exhibit. Back then, teachers would take photos of other work to show their classes and people walked slowly  through the exhibition. Now, 9 out of ten people had a camera and you can barely stand and enjoy a work because you’re in someone’s camera view. Many took pictures of almost every single piece. Now, I understand that inspiration and looking at other artist is an important part of creating a piece, but there was something off about how snap happy everyone was and the pace at which they were consuming the art. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I was a proud teacher that day though—4 out of 5 got the highest possible rating. And the one other student missed it by only one point. One!!!

Fires in the Bathroom

While BJ was organizing his books, he handed me a copy of Fires in the Bathroom by Kathleen Cushman. The first line in the preface read like this:

It’s a safe bet that in random high schools all over the United States, some kid has just set the bathroom wastebasket on fire. And deep down, all of us know why.

I was hooked. Someone is always setting the trash on fire down the hall! This happened at other schools too?!I’m only through the first two chapters, but I am certain this will be an invaluable resource for teaching. During my graduate studies, we were assigned more than enough books about pedagogy and what-have-you, but this gathers advice and insight from students themselves who tackle sensitive topics with honesty and directness that is hard to get from “experts.” In a way it makes me want to travel back to the first day of school and do some things a little differently.

I didn’t realize how consuming a teacher’s job can be until I became one. Students, lessons, and endless lists of tasks linger in my mind well past the end of the school day. Lucky for me, BJ has always been understanding about all the work I have to do during the weekends and all the things we have to pass over. Heck, he even pitches in and helps me with the workload. And I’ve got to be thankful for my cohorts (hehe, do you guys remember hearing that word all the time?) and teacher friends like Andrew (whose calisthenic detentions we’ll cover in their own post) who continue to challenge me to reflect upon my own teaching practices and who allow me to vent about extremely short class times, overcrowded classrooms, and all the crazy things that go on in a school.

Mmkay, That’s all. If you are an educator, I highly recommend picking up this book if you haven’t already. I’m off to the rodeo to enjoy the last few hours of break before I start grading again.