The day before school started, spring 2021, I laid in bed and felt something I had not felt in the last nine years. Dread.
Dread is a mental state and physical sensation of distinct weight that I often felt at my first art teacher job. Since moving schools and finding a supportive, happy place, I haven’t felt this in years. But, here it was again, reacquainting itself with me. And I hate it.
I love my job, I love my coworkers, I love my school. But, after a tough pandemic controlled first semester, it was hard to imagine going back. I felt more pessimistic about the start of this semester than I did the first semester because I knew what was coming. The combination of in-person, full virtual, hybrid feels like you are juggling and teaching three different classes in one. (Check out my survival tips here)
I hadn’t even closed my eyes and the exhaustion of what to come was already washing over me.
The next morning my husband asked how I was feeling and I was honest, I was unsure and wished I could just call it quits. He told me I couldn’t go in that way, I had to pull through because of my students.
He is so right.
We can’t let this get to us because we are responsible for so many others’ emotions. We provide care, support, and education to very malleable young minds. How we feel matters because it impacts how they feel.
I had to pull it together.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit I lamented with many others. That deep sighs hit me during my drive in and planning period. But, everyday, I will pull it together before my students step foot in my room. That is my goal, my motto for wrapping up this year. I plan to go out with just as much enthusiasm as I came in with nine years ago.
I’ve got this. We’ve got this. You’ve got this.
PREPPING FOR NEW CLASSES
This semester, like many other middle and high school art teachers, I have three brand new classes. This means I get to hit the restart button (for better or worse).
Before I left last semester I printed and made copies of all my typical first day of school paperwork. Starting a new class with clear expectations, requiring parent signatures, and holding students accountable for turning them in is an important way to start the semester. (Check out my first day of school pack on my TPT and in my blog shop).
A few years ago I updated my get to know you sheets, creating a unique one for every class. I love using these as a time filler the first day, and I read every one to help me get to know my students from day one.
On the back of each get to know you sheet I always include a brief survey. I ask questions such as, what other art classes have you taken, what is your favorite art material, what is your least favorite project from another class? This helps me understand where each student may fall in terms of experience and gauge interest in different types of projects.
TIP: Include a favorite song or band question on your sheets. Use their responses to build a class playlist using Spotify or similar. Always check song ratings/warnings to make sure the music is appropriate before adding it!
ART KITS, TAKE 2
Before school started I once again prepped my art kits and brush tubes for my students to take home. Since we are starting the semester in hybrid mode, I need them to be able to make art at home. If we ever go full virtual, I know what is in each kit and what they are capable of creating.
All my art kits have paper sheets I have the students use as a check-off when they first go through their kit. If they are missing any supplies, they have to touch base with me to get them. This helps them see what they have in their kit and confirms they got everything (holding them accountable for it all at the end of the semester).
I have been using the brush tubes for years and swear by them. Each student gets their own set of 5 brushes that must be turned in, well cared for or replaced, at the end of the semester.
How to you keep the kids accountable? Give them a grade for turning everything back in. This won’t work in every circumstance but it is the best solution I found.
I am sending as many good vibes and happy thoughts to all you art teachers, general teachers, administrators, and more out there. If we can survive this year, we can survive anything.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. You can read more art teacher related posts here, visual journal posts here, and check out my teaching resources on my TPT and in my blog shop. Thanks for stopping by!