This year marks my 13th year as a high school art teacher. I have spent all 13 years in the same district, at the same school. I have had 3 principals, 3 superintendents, countless colleagues, and over 1000 students. Lots of things have changed over the years–some sad, some bad, but mostly good. I have been lucky to have found a teaching philosophy, TAB, that really resonated with me and kept me from giving up on teaching all together.
Through the years I have seen amazing growth and creativity. I have watched students eyes get wide as they discovered clay or when they were told they could choose whatever material they wanted. I couldn’t have asked for a better journey.
As anyone who has gone on a journey knows, it’s not all puppies and rainbows. And, this year has really demonstrated that for me. I am having one of the hardest years I have had since my first year teaching. I’ve had one of the hardest groups of students to come through my program. I’ve written more referrals in 3 months than I did in 10 years of teaching; and if you know me at all, I’m pretty lax when it comes to discipline. I just don’t write referrals. Cell phones drive me up the walls, and kids doing homework in my class instead of arting gives me agita.
But, what really gives me pause this year, is the level of thought being put into the work. And it’s mostly in my Art 1 classes. Unfortunately, it isn’t a very deep level of thought. It’s like they feel thinking is the hardest thing they have ever been asked to do. (Perhaps it is, who knows?) Now, I have always met students where they are in their artistic journey, but this is so different that what I am used to. We’ve normally had to work more on skill and less on concept. This year it is a lot of column A and a lot a column B. It has made me question how I am facilitating my TAB studio. I feel like what I am doing isn’t enough to help them grow during their time in my class.
I have been taking notes and reflecting on years past to see what I can introduce to help them snap out of this lazy thing they call high school. I know it is in there somewhere. I know I can find a way to challenge them. I think it’s a combination of the packets, themes, and explorations. I’m not 100%, and I have more planning to do.