Another school year has come to a close. That makes 11 for me. The 2017-18 school year was a good year for me. I had a couple of bumps in the road–that one student who felt she no longer needed to be here (luckily she is still here ♥) and the whole grading issue with me not being in compliance. Overall, it was a fun and happy year. So, without further ado, let’s take a look back and see what went down.
⇒ I entered 3 students this year into Scholastic Art and Writing. We didn’t get any awards or even mentions, but I am proud that I was able to enter the work of these 3 young women. I think we were robbed, but life goes on, right.
⇒ I was honored when Diane Jacquith and Kathy Douglas asked me to have a small part in the 2nd edition of their book, Engaging Learners Through Artmaking. I speak of how I include current artists in my curriculum through an activity called Artist Monday. Students watch a short video and then answer some questions about the artist and what they create. Artists are always current, and many create art in ways that go beyond the traditional ways my students know about art making.
⇒I took my upper ceramic students on a field trip…on a Saturday! It was so much fun. We went to the Texas Clay Festival in Gruene, TX. My students got to see a woman who was burnishing a pot and talking about terra sigillata. They saw a variety of artists and got to see what people would be willing to pay for ceramics. And, they got to watch a raku firing. I am so glad that we went. The fact that they were willing to give up a Saturday to go on a field trip was tremendous. I hope to make this a yearly activity.
⇒ Seattle 2018. This year’s NAEA conference was in Seattle. I was lucky to be able to present not once, but twice at this year’s conference. And bonus for me, both were with my very good friend and amazing TAB teacher, Elizabeth Honeysett. We presented on Single Media and the TAB Classroom. Liz talked about her jewelry classes and I talked about my ceramics classes. We also did a ticketed event–The Secondary Choice Demo Room. This was extra fun for me because I got to see adults make art. Seattle was a blast.
⇒ Restorative Discipline was brought into my school in the 2016-17 school year. Each year they train a small amount of teachers. I was lucky to be asked to be part of the 2017-18 cohort (cohort 2). I really like restorative discipline because it focuses on relationships and community building. It stresses being proactive instead of being reactive. It was a great fit for me because I am all about relationships and community in my classroom. We had many trainings throughout the year, which kept me always reflecting on my teaching. I reflect anyways, but the reflections from the RD perspective made me think about things I sometimes gloss over.
⇒ RD brought the academic circle into my teaching practice. In RD, there are many types of circle activities you can do with your students and the academic circle is one I really liked. I utilized it in my ceramics classes. There had been a disconnect between what my students researched on a artistic behavior and the art making that went along with it. The academic circle filled the gap. It allowed me to check what my students learned on their own. It allowed my students to share and connect with each other. It allowed for questions. It allowed for students to see ceramic art their peers were drawn to. And, it helped to clarify the big idea for the students before they moved to the creation of their work.
⇒ I applied for a grant and was award it! In our community, there is a foundation called the Taylor Educational Enrichment Foundation (TEE) that offers thousands of dollars in grants annually. I finally got the courage to write a grant proposal for a raku kiln kit. When the day finallyarrived when we would find out who would be awarded, I’ll admit, I was nervous. I heard the band and the cheerleaders coming down the hall. I kept hoping they were coming to me and not going to walk on by. My principal ducked his head into my office and told me to come out into the hallway. I was so excited. I was dancing around my classroom. I have since ordered and received the kit and I can’t wait to set it up and teach my students how to raku this fall.
⇒For a few years, I make and gift some special seniors a piece of “Duck Art” pottery. It started when some seniors bugged the crap out of me for cereal bowls. So, as an end of year gift, I made bowls and gave them each one. On the inside of the bowl, there was a duck. The next year the seniors weren’t into cereal so much as they were coffee. So, the image was transferred to a mug. Each year, the duck image changed, but the sentiment was the same. I made X# of mugs–all similar in shape, color, and image–and handed them out to the lucky ones I had forged relationships with. This year, I wanted something different. I really don’t like being a production potter. I don’t like making the same thing over and over. I decided to make each mug different and glaze each mug different. The only thing that was my thru-line was the Duck Art medallion I made. I made a sprig, which was a good lesson for the students, and went from there. At the end, the students got to pick which mug they wanted according to their tastes and what fit well in their hands. This has become the new and final senior Duck Art Mug.
Those are really the bigs things that happened this year. Like I said, it was a good year. I made some stronger relationships with both students and colleagues. I am sad that my ceramics seniors are gone. They were a great group of kids. But, I am excited for those returning next year. I learned a lot about my teaching and how I want to move forward. I really understand the end goal I have for my students–both those that will be with me for a year and those that will continue on. I have worked hard (and continue to) on how to help my students meet those goals. I have much in store for next year…I hope to implement “the 9”, courtesy of Ian Sands, with my art 1 class. I have taken the 9 and created my own version–“the 10”–which is geared for my upper ceramics kiddos. And, our principal decided to split the AP Studio art program between my co-worker and myself…so that will be interesting. I am happy with my 11th year, and I look forward to another fun-filled TAB-tastic year in the Duck Art Studio. But, until then, I will relax and enjoy my summer.