Re: "keeping entertained..."Patty's points are well taken. But what I must emphasize is everyone's situation is different. Everyone's personality is different, and everyone's 'population' is different. I don't feel guilty or offended by what you have said, because I know I am a good teacher, and I also know that anyone can drop by and see "kids on task"...so much so that when they do drop in, my students run over to them to show what they are doing. That said, sometimes the class runs like a well oiled machine. That is to say that the kids are excited, each have discussed their intent, and are off and running. One of my objectives in teaching art with my highschoolers is autonomy. I want them to know that they can create art ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, and without ME, if they have the skills, the ideas, and the thesis statement worked out. So while I am 'in their face' a lot of the time, I also give them space to ruminate, to share with each other, to essentially 'figure things out' on their own. Over the years I have patterned my teaching in ways that mimic the artist's studio, and in my studio, I find art to be a solo venture. I have never taken tax payers art supplies and made my own work. On the contrary, I have brought in supplies for my students and myself. If, and that's a big "if" I make 'something' in class, it is always a 'sample idea'. I rarely do that, nor do I bring in my own work (other than the puppets I make), because early on I found students attaching meaning to what I brought in, and that 'meaning' was "she considers that to be art, so I will make mine the same".
Each of us has developed a rhythm in our classes, that is comforting and familiar to our students and to ourselves. I have always said that teaching art is like 'spinnng plates on the Ed Sullivan show"...I used to teach AP Art History, and even in that fast paced lecture/slide course, I allowed students and myself ruminating/breathing time to let everything sort of 'sink in'. Those 'relaxing' (for lack of a better word) minutes (and that's all you can afford in that class) bonded the class in ways that a straight lecture class could never do. They still email each other and me (and the class ran 2 years ago, but the amount of work required has discouraged kids from signing up recently) and are quick to let me know that they love art history in college, and some have minored in it.
As for Susan and her elementary students (and all those that teach elementary), I don't envy you. In fact after my student teaching experience I knew that is not what I wanted to do, so I made my choice to only apply for a high school experience. That said, we all know each position has it's rewards and it's trials.
This year as I embark on my new position as teacher leader, I hope I can have my colleagues not look upon each other with envy and judgement, but with support and amazement as we realize that essentially teaching art "is our art", and that we each approach the making of 'art' differently and with purpose.