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From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 18 2003 - 11:11:43 PDT

I am just going to post this to the list now while it is on my mind.....From
now on - you are getting little tid-bits whenever they pop into my head.
Don't we always say "Wait your turn" or something like that? I even did
"pick a number" - had numbers on a clip on the chalkboard. That's what the
real world is like, right?

I also had a "3 before Me" rule to answer the easy questions (ask a
classmate - check your notes/instructions at the table - look at the visual
resources/sample projects -- LOL at this - I even told some to go read the
lesson plan on my site - when they hadn't listened - and they did! It made
putting the plans online fun for me - I never needed them myself ).....but
some kids just didn't get that rule....They would still want my attention (I
got this three before me rule from a coworker). We had an agreement in my
class. If someone had a "crisis" - something that needed immediate
attention - they were supposed to get out of their seat and come to me. I
often could not see a raised up hand.....and if I did see one up that was
waving away I sometimes asked if they needed one of the long rulers to help
hold it up - asked if it was a "crisis" - or simply would say "3 before me"
(if it was a naughty kid - smile) and go right back to what I was doing. The
"crisis" questions always came first (those who were really frustrated --
working hard at their work - but stuck in some way or other). I would sit
down with the crisis student and we would work through the problem.

I hated it when I heard kids complain about their elementary teacher that
she only worked with the "good kids" (the kids who were getting it). I hated
it that so many would tell me they were never able to finish their ceramic
project (or any three dimensional project) - or that their project would
blow up in the kiln - or some excuse. I made three dimensional projects my
most important ones to finish and always provided time for even the naughty
ones to work (after school). Working through a clay problem with a child
gave me a chance to talk about "mother earth" and how we need to respect
"mother earth" all cultures used clay and so clay lasts
and is a permanent record --- all that good stuff -- clay projects are
treasures for mom -- and whatever else would pop into my head....And if a
clay project broke before firing? You bet I fixed it. Fixing a broken piece
was much easier than telling a kid I had to reclaim his/her work. When I
see those "I never touch a child's work" messages, I just smile. My kids
begged me to touch their work sometimes - and I did as a last resort. I had
numerous kids tell me that their elementary teacher actually made the work
for them when they couldn't get it ( what is wrong with this

Now why did this pop into my head? I was trying to answer my mail in the
order it was received! Impossible for me to do. I look for mail from my
"cyber buddies" first -- then look to see if some might be for Incredible
Art Department -- then I look at the subject heads that puzzle me (like the
no subject ones) - then I look for responses to messages I posted -- then I
look at responses to things my "cyber buddies" have posted......then
(blah-blah).......I do open each post to the list serves and I read each
post to the list serves....That is fun to do. Obviously, I wouldn't get
anything done at all if I answered everyone (ha-ha) but I love seeing that
many would anwser with the same response that I would have....I love seeing
that folks have the same way of approaching something that I would.

Here is avery funny image to think about "Who is Judy Decker?" or "What is
Judy Decker?" This came on my reply to someone that I was going to be away
from my machine for a day.
Trust me.... I will give her a more thorough reply in time.

>>> Good for you! I'm glad you are getting away for a bit. I was
beginning to think of you as part human, part computer, working
feverishly away in your house... everyday becoming more machine.. sort
of like a science fiction movie. I'll try the archives instead of
bugging you. Have a nice vacation!

Well.... I am back at my machine and loving every minute of it. My only goal
for art education today is to get through my mail. Then I will be proud of
my accomplishment. Smile.
My husband was even laughling at how much fun I was having answering my
email today. I am reading and deleting as I go.

There is so much I hate about the real world (so don't get me
started)....Let's work to create our own little world in our art rooms. Let
the real world deal with its problems later. Kids are our most valuable
resource - Lets treat them that way. I loved my own little art room world --
and it was working great. The sad thing is -- folks thought I was too
happy -- and that is what caused a lot of my problems. I wasn't too happy
(certainly wasn't happy hearing their complaints about the kids they were
teaching -- I was just teaching different kids than they had -- smile)-- I
was just happy with the way things were working in my little art room
culture (I was putting everything I learned at Bluffton College to use).
People (other staff) made fun of my ways -- and so did the principal. I was
the brunt of many jokes -- Principal even called me into his office one day
so he and another staff member could laugh at what I did to get one student
to do his work. I won't go into that right now...But I know that what I did
was the RIGHT THING. I got that child on my side and got the parent on my
side and it WORKED. I feel so much better getting that off my chest....and for those
who know me just say "OK Judy" ..... I really don't care if anyone reads
what I write ...sometimes I just have to write it....and I will send it to
you if I think it might help one teacher out there.

Judy Decker - Ohio
Incredible Art Department