At times I truly believe my students think I am a maid rather than their teacher. If this isn’t the explanation for why they continuously leave a mess behind, they must think small elves skip into our room every night, do sing-a-longs, and joyously clean as if there were nothing greater in the world.
The truth is there are no elves and I am in fact a teacher not a personal cleaner upper. I would much prefer spending my mornings, planning periods, and afternoons actually prepping for new lessons and my next class, rather than picking up scrapes of paper, wiping down tables, and sticking my hand in yet another mystery blob of paint. If I turn my back for a second at the end of class, my kids will zip out as soon as the bell rings without a second thought to their mess. It amazes me how they think I won’t realize they didn’t clean up when a pile of paper and unwashed paintbrushes are sitting right in front of their seat. The next day all I get are blank stares and I must have forgotten excuses when I approach the subject.
I hate to admit it but the thought “what would your mother think” often rolls through my head and off my tongue. I am turning into one of those teachers. The type that points and shakes their finger, taps their foot with a hand on their hip, and questions student behavior outside of school. I blame it on the students, they drive us all to that point eventually.
Although I strive to keep a clean room and hate to see a mess left behind I can find a silver lining on the trash cloud that hoovers over my classroom tables, countertops, and floors. As I pick up projet leftovers I often stumble upon the most beautiful accidental works of art. Streaks of paint are left behind a poor attempt to clean off a brush. Random doodles grace scrap papers that have been abandoned. Experimental colors and techniques appear, and are quickly forgotten as the end of class bell rings.
These are my students’ after thoughts, their progression of style and discovery of their voice. I love finding these gems, it almost makes cleaning up worthwhile. I take these accidental works of art, stow them in my visual journal, and incorporate them into my own works of art. However, these particular pieces were so special I had to create a page celebrating them, because I wish they would clean up… even though it is fun to find their accidental artwork.
- Visual Journal
- Rubber Cement
- Accidental artwork
- Colored pencil
This page is all about the student work, which made my job easy. I simply took the painting scraps I had hung onto, and ripped them into more manageable sizes and layered them into a collage. I glued them down, overlapping them between the left and right pages (in order to get the paper to stick in the crease I use a credit card to push it into the crease of the book), and overlapping the torn edges. As I glued the pieces down I made sure I allowed a blank space in the center to write my words.
Once all of the pieces were glued I used a pencil to lightly write in the words. I wanted them to fill up the space, look messy, and blend with the background. After I was satisfied with the wording and placement I traced over the words with colored pencil, alternating between colors. I made sure to choose colors that were similar to the background to help it blend in.
Take a blank sheet of paper, a variety of paint colors, and have fun. Blend colors, create patterns by playing with brush strokes, or even finger paint. Allow the paper to dry, then rip it up and use it in your next visual journal collage.
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