I’m sure all educators can relate when it comes to complaints about support and funding in school. I have had a lot of wonderful experiences at my school, but like everyone else I do have my complaints. I was very lucky to become a member of a school with a strong art program beginning to emerge. I was taking the place of a very enthusiastic, dedicated teacher, and I was joining a a very enthusiastic, dedicated teacher, who had great ideas, and had a magic touch with students. Everyone who had her LOVED her.
I learned so much my first year working with her, and it was difficult when she decided to leave at the end of the year, I had big shoes to fill and very high expectations from her students. Her reasons for leaving are the same as my reasons for leaving now. We both lived outside of the city the school is located, our department is often overlooked in the school, and funding is a bit of a joke.
After three years of driving 50 minutes to work, she found something 15 minutes away. A long commute is difficult, and it doesn’t make it easier when you are driving to a job where you don’t feel important. I understand the administrators are busy. However, there is always time to tell a person they are doing a good job. If you can’t provide more supplies, more funding, that is a dollars and cents issue. However, only seeing one of your employees face to face maybe three times a year is a little crazy.
I can’t say that I go seeking out math and science teachers to catch up, but the only time I spoke with a lot of the teachers I work with was when they came looking for supplies or favors. I’m going to be less likely to want to help out if the only words you every say to me are “can you please do this for me for free”, “can I please take your paint for this unrelated art thing”, “can you please help out with this project because you can’t be busy with anything else”. Being an art teacher doesn’t mean you have unlimited time and money, you in fact are supposed to be teaching students about art. Believe it or not we plan, we spend time grading, we are involved with our students during class.
My first year we split a $1500 budget. We complained about that budget, it was enough to replace necessities, but not enough to purchase anything large, or get supplies to start a completely different type of project. I didn’t realize how lucky I was then, the very next year I had to split a $700 budget. When you are teaching 400 plus students, that is not enough money to get through the year.
Needless to say I understand why she left, and now I’m following in her footsteps for the same reasons. When the students and I found out she took a job elsewhere, we decided to throw her a going away party and make her a going away visual journal. Each student made a page about her, and so did I. This isn’t the page I put in her book, this is the page I put in my book to represent her page. We are the skeletons, trying to fight and get away from the demon vulture/wannabe eagle, which is our school mascot.
To create this visual journal page I printed out images of skeletons, then colored them with colored pencil to add a little bit of color. I was lucky enough to find two magazine images of crazy looking birds, one for her book, one for mine. I used ripped up magazine pages for the background, and a piece of paper towel, dyed with bleeding tissue paper, for the ground.
CHALLENGE: Create a page about a struggle with a job or school. Use whatever material you want, pick something that best reflects your feeling about the situation.
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