Every molecule of my being was consumed by the job...
At 23 I entered the classroom. I was beyond excited and I was clueless. I had some experience as a camp counselor, a TA in college, and of course as a student teacher but nothing can truly prepare you for the daily challenges of managing your own classroom.
That first year I didn't know how to organize or deliver curriculum effectively, and I couldn't manage classroom disruptions very well. I thought about my students and classes constantly. I would go to art openings and dinner parties and talk about school incessantly and my husband had to hear about every detail of the day when I returned home in the evenings. The sheer number of decisions I had to make each day as a teacher left very little space for anything else in my mind or life.
I don't want to paint a dismal picture, there were many great moments that first year. I bonded with my colleagues in the Art Department early on (two teachers in with 20+ years experience) and we had a lot of laughs together (the kind where you can't even catch your breath...the best kind of laugher.) I also took a lot of creative risks that year, I didn't know what worked so I just tried any idea I could come up with. Some of these were literally a hot mess that I had to stay late into the evening to clean up, but some became, over time, the tried and true lessons I teach every year.
This was the early years of Pinterest and that site became a life raft keeping me afloat with lesson and project ideas. That first year my students did SO MANY projects. I felt like I never had enough material and my nightmares were haunted by a student saying "I'M DONE!" This was because although Pinterest provided me ideas, I didn't know how to extend those ideas into deep, content rich curriculum. I definitely did not have the time or head space to do this.
How can I free up more creative space for art educators?
Thankfully that first year is now in the rearview mirror, and so are 14 more years. In the stretch between my first year and now I have surprised myself with how my creative interests have shifted. I became a teacher because I was passionate about art. I've stayed a teacher because now I am passionate about teaching. As much as I enjoy printmaking (my first art love) and gif art (my current obsession), it is curriculum design that is my true passion these days. I love the test kitchen of the classroom, the unanticipated ingredients and getting to witness the moment when it all comes together for a student and they begin to see their own creative potential.
This is why I created Artful Ideas. I'm here to help teachers free up S P A C E. The space that took me years to carve out for myself. Even as a now "veteran" teacher (I still can't believe it) I still face challenges every year. As teachers we are called on to teach brand new classes with little lead time or to advise a club or activity we know almost noting about.
Artful Ideas is all about sharing what I am most passionate about: curriculum design. I'm here to provide art teacher tips and relevant content rich curriculum (lessons and activities) so that you have more time to focus on what matters to you most in and out of the classroom.
One thing I learned is as a teacher if you do something one year, you have to do it every year so choose wisely! :) Here are some of my favorite art teacher costumes over the years...
I'm a high school/middle school art teacher with 16 years of experience. I'm here to help art teachers free up more time and space in their lives through lesson ideas and ready to go content rich, engaging curriculum.