Today was quite the day, and I’ve found myself just about as tired as I was yesterday! Starting off the morning, staff members found a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast waiting for them in the staff room. I was delighted to find breakfast tacos, pastries, fruit, juice, and other assorted goods. My cooperating teacher was especially thankful for the coffee they were offering as she’s been drinking several cups of coffee these last few days. This was a delightful start to the morning.
Today began the start of the Art I printmaking unit. As the AP Art class students were out in the hallways taking pictures that capture motion again, I was working on a teacher-made example for the project. After receiving a gum eraser from my cooperating teacher, I began to trace the shape and sketch design ideas. My cooperating teacher suggested simplistic designs that stemmed from the corner edge so that when it was repeatedly stamped, it would create a larger design. Once sketching a design I was content with, I began carving my eraser. I’ve never done printmaking with erasers before and found the carving to be incredibly easy. I was finished carving within minutes. When I was first introduced to this assignment, I honestly thought it was a bit simple, but after seeing the excitement come from the students I think it may be an interesting way to introduce printmaking.
The high school was on Cougar Time today, which meant every class was cut short to create time for an extra class between 2nd and 3rd Period. This “Cougar Time” allowed students to participate in an activity and debrief about the morals they should have picked up. Today, students were instructed to create an animal out of torn paper shapes and to have a partner guess which animal they were creating without speaking. The students were finished with the activity within minutes, but they enjoyed it. For the rest of the period, they played games as a class, such as Pictionary. It seemed that this was not an effective use of the students’ time and my cooperating teacher agreed.
To make things worse, because of Cougar Time reducing each class’ duration, my cooperating teacher had less time to introduce the new lesson. I observed as she introduced the artist, Raoul Dufy, showed images of his work, explained the student examples, and talked about the criteria of the lesson. Each student was then given an eraser to begin tracing and creating designs. While students were working, my cooperating teacher was grading their tree sketches while I was giving a one-on-one demonstration of the eraser prints for each student. I enjoyed giving the demonstration and used that opportunity to review the criteria of the lesson. “How many colors do you have to use? What do I have to do before I can print again?” I would ask, asking questions that were answered within the lecture. By watching this demonstration, students were better able to understand the assignment.
Unfortunately, everything changed during 4th period when my cooperating teacher received a phone call. “What?! What happened?!” I heard her cry out after she answered the phone. She quickly stood at the front of the room with her back to the class. I heard her sniffle and feared what she was hearing. All of the students suddenly grew dead quiet. I was surprised that without any instruction at all, every single student had stopped talking and were now sitting in complete silence. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do at the moment. I thought of taking attendance as class had just started, but my cooperating teacher already had her fingers in her ears to try to hear her call more clearly, so I figured I would just wait for her to finish her call. Today was a work-day and the students were already working, so I was flustered with what to do.
After many long, awkward moments my cooperating teacher said, “Where is he? I’m going to leave right now. I’ll see you soon,” and hung up the phone. “My dad just died 30 minutes ago!” she cried out as she burst into tears. “Miss Brooks, can you take over? Okay,” she then grabbed her purse and ran out the door.
I felt completely awkward and saddened. I felt like I might cry myself. After a moment of silence and a deep breath, I then addressed the class, “All right class. Today is a work-day so please continue to work on your dyed fabric. Can you continue to remain quiet as I take attendance?” I wasn’t nervous, but I felt so out of place. There were four more periods remaining in the day. 4th Period Painting IV was a work-day, 5th Period Art I was another introduction lecture into the printmaking lesson, 6th Period was my cooperating teacher’s off period, and 7th Period was a work-day for Painting II. Thankfully, I knew exactly what was going on that day. I was a bit nervous to instruct the Art I class as I wasn’t expecting to today, but I felt comfortable after observing my teacher deliver the instruction. I was most worried about adjusting the instruction for the multitude of Special Needs students in the 5th period class which would start shortly.
Thankfully, the rest of my day went smoothly. I delivered the instruction to the Art I class as I introduced them to the artist, showed examples of his work, explained the student examples, and talked about the criteria. I passed out erasers, explained the day’s assignment and then talked with the Special Needs students and their assistants. Instead of carving their own designs out of the erasers with potentially dangerous tools the assistants and I agreed that the EA students would create prints with pre-carved erasers from previous years. I had already selected the best erasers and tested them to make sure they printed correctly. Now the Special Needs students could select the eraser they liked best and follow the criteria the best they could to create successful prints. After making sure my Special Needs students were set, I then began delivering my one-on-one demonstrations with the students.
So many times in this experience I have witnessed how important it is to be prepared and to have a plan in advance. Literally at any moment, the teacher may have to leave the room and someone else may have to jump in and take over. I’m not sure what would have happened if I wasn’t there as a substitute teacher never came to the classroom. Now, I will need to decide what the classes will do tomorrow in case my cooperating teacher hasn’t returned.
I’m a bit scared and worried for my teacher. She’s been at wit’s end the last week and knew that her dad would be passing any day. She had told me that she was anticipating him to pass within the next three weeks or so and was making plans to allow me to take the class over. We were both not prepared for things to change so quickly today. Hopefully, things will get better.