Monday, January 19, 2015

Draft Folder Clean-up: (Story Hour) Life on the cart. I absolutely hate every second of it.

This post was originally started in February, 2014.  This year I have both of my classrooms back.

I've found a few art teacher blogs and pins that brag about how easy it can be to teach from a cart.  There are pages and pages devoted to all the fantastic and wonderful things you can still teach, how to organize your supplies, and how to manage discipline.

They are all lies.

There is nothing good about teaching from a cart.

Art teachers make these blogs and pins to reassure themselves and their community that this is a perfectly acceptable way to teach.  They are desperately convincing themselves and others that their students are receiving a quality art education.  They are assuring everyone that there is nothing wrong with a professional hanging their coat in the break room and using the hallway as their office.  I think these teachers have just given up.

I was displaced from my classroom when school resumed in January.  Another section of free preschool was entering my building and the quickest, and least disruptive solution for everyone else was to take my room.

It is several weeks later and I am still furious about it.  I get physically sick on my way to school and mope through the hallways.  I got sympathetic looks in the beginning, but now I think people are avoiding me.  I'm not much fun.

Now, I know I won't get much sympathy when I reveal that I only teach at that school 1.5 days a week,  I only teach six classes, and I have a gorgeous art room at my other building.... But that's not even the point.  Granted, my loathsome behavior would be better justified if I was full time and taught 35+ classes a week.  Anyway, the point is Why Art?

Why art?

Historically, my discipline has not received much respect in my district.  When I arrived I was full time and taught at three different schools in three completely different environments.  I was on a cart, I had a cruddy but huge classroom, and at one I literally taught in a break room with no sink.  Coincidently, that room is now the break room, and they installed a sink.  

The "woe is me" portion of this is:
Every day was a challenge.
My trunk was constantly full and I was becoming used to carrying trunk loads of supplies from school to school and up stairwells while pregnant.
It became commonplace for me to forget visuals and lose worksheets, thus enacting many days of last minute and on the fly changes.
I never got to know many of the kids because I was never in a building for very long.
My cart school had supplies strewn all over the building and my cart was an old AV cart.
I hardly was in the right place at the right time to attend building meetings.
I had three different administrators, and three schools with different philosophies.
No one ever asked me what I was teaching, or what students were learning.
No one seemed to care what I did or where I was.

All that sucked. I had little babies at home and a crappy work situation. But, I also know all that stuff is secondary.  All that stuff was hard on me, but a situation like that effects all the kids at those three schools' art education too.  How come nobody ever did anything about this?  So, I started speaking out.

I made sure my administrators knew the importance of an art classroom.  I wrote position papers advocating for a classroom at one school, and a room with a sink at another.  I spoke in favor of grade level centers, and petitioned to be part-time and only at two schools - instead of one teacher picking up some of my classes while I'm at the third building (when was that ever a good idea?)  I wanted technology and made it known constantly.  I don't know if anyone was ever really listening to me, or reading my emails, but things changed.  Slowly things started to improve.  It started in baby steps at one school, sharing a room with music (but with a sink!) Finally a room to myself, to finally a dedicated space.  I got a room at my cart school, when our enrollment dipped.  I jumped at it and tried to make it as much of an art room as possible.  I started to know the students.  I started to understand my administrators. I was part of the discipline system. Students finally started to respect a teacher they knew and they finally started to respect a subject they seemed to know nothing about.

Finally students were winning competitions and being included in national and statewide exhibits.  I had a full Artsonia Gallery, a parent blog, an art show, and community displays.

This is where the post ended.  I don't know where the post was heading, and that is probably why I stopped.  

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