Patty, what a beautiful letter. The psychic energy that teaching highschool
takes is what is draining for me. It is a constant vigilance to make sure I
am doing the best I can by each kid. Each is so different with different
needs that I am researching constantly new ways to reach them. Sure does
keep us young. Klara Weis
From: Patricia Knott [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2002 1:48 PM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: elementary to high shcool ?
I started this last night, when at midnight I was doing interim grades...
and bemoaning the lack of time I have for me
It seems, since I've been in education, everyone at every level, thinks the
other, on another level, has it easier.
Each level has it's perks and problems and all is a trade off.
No teacher's job today is easy at any level
There is no way to compare classroom management
kids so tired and weary they can't keep their heads up just from
being tired and weary
kids so tired and weary from substance abuse
kids tired and weary because they see no future
I've never seen so many tired and weary kids
The belligerency, apathy, potential for violent reaction in a high school
kid , I think requires an attitude quite different from management
techniques in the elementary classroom.
I have taught elementary, middle and now high school. I always preferred
high school simply because of my own personality, my sense of humor, my
needs for communication. In the lower grades I could look over the
classroom and think of them as one mass. In high school it is one by one,
individuals, almost grown people with individual almost grown needs.
Certainly as an art teacher, the individual need for expression becomes much
Hence the first question time demand. Accommodating that individual
expression and cultivating it and allowing for it. Finding the path for
don't count on it
grading is much more demanding -- the art work itself, the writing , the
creation of the rubrics
and for that matter the creation of the project the higher level skills the
content, the expectations
making sure that they graduate
It's May and almost every one of my nights is taken up with some kind of
ceremony or awards presentation
but then the rewards I get to see real growth and potential, I get to be
very very proud when they get accepted to an art school, I get kids coming
back from college to say thank you I get to work with developing human
beings that are our future.
I never worry about the kids that are "dumped" into my classes, 'cause I've
had so much luck in "touching" those kids that thought they had no creative
bones in their being.
I can be the biggest whiner and complainer about my job, but every time I'm
ready to quit one of them gives me reason to continue.
If you love to teach you will effectively bring your skills to any level;
only at the high school I think you need to be a bit more skillful. Be
prepared to be challenged every day and be prepared to be researching all
the time cause they need something you might not feel so confident about.
There are no "cookie cutter" lessons in high school-- they want to take
everything to another place. And you need to be prepared to take them to
More time at the high school level, don't count on it. I haven't made a
piece of art for myself in 10 years, but I certainly have become a good
dabbler and my sketchbook is great with potential.
And what I like best, is that every time a kid asks me a question, I can
throw back a dozen possibilities. They keep my creative juices going.
Take the step up to the high school. You'll find the challenge may inform
your own art making.
(even if it's only in your head and you save the making until retirement)