----- Original Message -----
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Sent: Friday, May 10, 2002 8:02 PM
Subject: Re: How many more days/weeks?
"This reoccurring theme of I can't wait until it's over and I have only "X" days until the pain is gone is disturbing."
I would venture to say we all love what we do...so this count down is one part "jest", and another part "reality". Hey I teach in a high school where everything centers around bells, testing days, sports events, proms. Due dates are prominant in my mind with daily reminders every two seconds. Go into ANY high school and I venture to say the kids will let you know exactly how many days are left until they get their licenses, or to the prom, or to the AP Tests, or to graduation. It is a part of our school culture. In my school 23 teachers our of a staff of 80 are retiring. So I very much have the sense that there are only X amount of days until things change in my life. As for kids coming back to thank us, we all have those stories, and when they come back, they laugh right along with me about the foibles and pains of teaching art. If we can't share our war stories, and our relief stories on this list, then really what's the point? I can get techniques out of books afterall. But real human stories are hard to come by, and are excellent stress relievers.
Lastly, this teaching thing is not a breeze. Any time I meet someone who is envious of my so called 'hours', or my so called 'summer vacation', I merely say life is full of choices, and this is what I chose. They are welcomed to join me and my colleagues on the frontlines where kids (in my neighborhoods anyway) have two working parents, so no one checks them when they leave the house, so they look like Brittany Spears (even if they are a little chunky, geesch I've seen enough thongs poking out of low waisted pants to offend my aesthetic sensibilities), and speak like Ozzie Ozbournes ENTIRE family at once. The challenge is always to walk a line of giving them the information they need, nurturing them as human beings, showing them the 'social ropes',and helping them take ownership of their decisions both artisitically and personally. I've worked in the "real world" prior to teaching....I doubt if most people think teaching is anything beyond giving out information, and then testing kids to see if they got it.
And finally, you know what one of the hardest things about teaching is after 25+ years? Keeping it fresh. My motto has been "it's the first time for them", as I try to make each 'lesson' I teach different and new from year to year, and try to be as enthusiastic as possible about the magic of art and art making. This list helps me keep the magic alive.