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Re:[teacherartexchange] Need to make a decision


From: leah rachlis (leah_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Jun 01 2006 - 06:25:25 PDT

Alix I love your post- I know Stacie needs support and has a tough decision-
but I needed to hear what you said to her, I have been teaching K-12 for the
last 4 years, this year we closed the HS, so I am just K-8. My Middle
Schoolers and my Kindergartens were my biggest challenge- and switching from
one to the other with 45 seconds in between didn't help.

Last week, after school had been out for 3 days, our town had a street fair,
I was there with my own kids (MS age). I must have run into a dozen or more
students, I was most surprised to get huge hugs from some of the MS kids, I
thought they hated me (I have rules in my class!) You insight to the hearts
and minds of the teen -agers- is most helpful!

Sometimes I think I would prefer one span or the other, but I would be hard
pressed if I had to decide. I did meet a guy who does elementary on a cart-
and he BLEW ME AWAY. I have a picture of the cart somewhere, it was a
hospital food card that he converted - talk about taking lemons and making
it them into lemonade - he is one of those amazing (obnoxiously) positive
people who make the best of any situation and light up any room they are in.

As a teacher, I do not have wisdom to share with you (Stacie) I am only
slightly more experienced than you -

BUT- way back in 1969, I was a 6th grader, in an overcrowded NY school,on
split-session because the school was so small. I was in Ms. Fountains class,
who I hated, I was failing everything, because I rarely made it to school.
I remember 3 things about that year - 1: girls we finally able to wear pants
to school (mine were danskin stretchies); 2: The Beatles split up (and I
really thought there should be a law stopping them from doing that). and 3:
we had an art teacher who showed up in our class about 6 times that year.
On a cart.

I have no idea what she did with us, I just know she was there, and I did
not have art again until High School. I am seeing colored paper - I was
wearing my stretchy pants and probably humming... "you say you want a

at the end of the day, it is how we touch the lives of the children -

  Feeling like a grandma,

- Leah


----- Original Message -----
From: "Alix Peshette" <>
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 7:57 PM
Subject: RE: Need to make a decision

> Stacie,
> I would suggest that you stay in the middle school where you will have
> your own classroom. It's terribly exhausting to do art-on-a-cart!
> Plus, you are never on your own turf. Also, when you have your own
> room, you have much more control over supplies, student movement and
> storage of art in progress - something that is very hard to control from
> an art cart.
> I know you are a first year teacher - and frankly, the first three years
> are the hardest. By the time you hit the fourth year, you will have all
> your projects worked out and will be able to refine, elaborate on them
> and develop new curriculum.
> Believe it or not, middle school kids are extremely loveable once they
> understand that you are undisputed Empress of the Room. There are two
> big secrets to middle school kids: 1) They desperately want to know if
> you like them just for themselves. They know their parents "have" to
> like them, but they aren't sure about other adults. To test this out,
> they will do behaviors that they know are unacceptable at home, just to
> see your reaction. Your reaction can be amused-disapproval, with a
> verbal reiteration of what behavior you expect from them. They need to
> hear your expectations about 1000 times in the first few weeks, then
> only 100 times each week.
> The second secret to middle school kids is their need for power over
> something in their life. They have just realized that they are
> powerless - and they hate it. Give them projects that have 'hooks' in
> them that tickle and delight the teenage soul. They love food, money,
> surrealism, things out of proportion, and anything that glorifies them
> in some good way.
> They also absolutely crave the knowledge of how to draw so that things
> look real. This is where most kids stop with art - they can't make
> things look real because they don't know proportion, scale, dimension
> and shading. Research suggests that most adults draw at an eleven year
> old level - because they stopped drawing once they felt ashamed that
> their work didn't look real! Short drawing lessons using things that
> they can destroy as they draw are always a hit. Start with foam cups;
> let them tear chunks out and arrange a still life - then draw it.
> Teaching realism in drawing works best (for me) in short chunks of time,
> a couple times a week.
> Stacie, sorry to be so long and preachy about this. I taught middle
> school art for 18 years. The first three years were a living hell. Now
> I adore that age group! Now I work with adult learners in technology in
> my district and while I love my new position, I do miss the interaction
> with the kids!
> -Alix
> Technology Training Specialist
> 18 years of middle school and still sane!!
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 6:09 PM
> To: TeacherArtExchange Discussion Group
> Subject: [teacherartexchange] Need to make a decision
> First off, I'd like to thank everyone on this list for all of their
> support,
> wonderful advice and lessons this past year. It helped me tremendously
> during
> my first year of teaching. I plan on getting some of my lessons
> together
> with photos to share with you all this summer.
> So, I made it. I survived my first year of teaching. It definitely was
> the
> biggest challenge I've taken on, besides running a marathon, in my life.
> Actually, it was much tougher than the marathon, but I survived both. I
> am
> exhausted and have been cleaning out my room all day. At the end, I
> said goodbye to
> a few teary eyed students, received some sweet gifts and cards and felt
> relief at the departure of others. I had my art show last week, which
> was a
> terrible decision...never again will I do one the last week of school.
> Last week
> was such a whirlwind and nightmare that I don't even know what happened.
> I
> never had time to stop, never had a chance to take a moment to reflect
> or to say
> proper goodbyes to some of the students I actually will miss. It went
> though,
> over 200 pieces of art. I tried so hard to make it perfect, and there
> simply
> was not enough time. It did look beautiful though. I only wish I had
> had the
> time to enjoy it.
> So, now I am faced with a tough decision for next year. I have been
> informed
> that I need to decide on elementary or middle school for next year. I
> was
> leaning toward elementary after realizing that those students appreciate
> me so
> much more than the older ones. They actually look forward to my class,
> and I
> found out that I was able to teach them more. They had a general
> interest in
> art and even learning about artists. Well, here's the catch. If I take
> elementary, I lose my room. I'll be on a cart traveling from room to
> room. Many
> rooms don't have sinks, so that will definitely limit my projects. If I
> take
> middle, I get to keep my room, but I will have to deal with all of those
> bad
> attitudes and the students who don't want to take my class. I'm really
> torn. I'm
> trying to figure out which will be a better situation for me in the end.
> Of
> course, I'm going to put out my resume just in case another opportunity
> pops
> up, but I'm feeling pretty low. I don't want to give up my room. I
> hate the
> thought of having to share it with another teacher. It's already so
> small, and
> I like to set it up and have my art library and play my music...but I
> really
> don't know if I can learn how to deal with the middle schoolers in a
> more
> effective manner next year. They are so disrespectful and have no
> desire to
> learn. About five of them failed my class, and I had to really work at
> passing
> five others. Many of them failed the entire year because they have no
> motivation
> whatsoever. I'm torn! What would you do?
> Thanks again,
> Stacie d'Albenas
> ---
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