Student Teaching Reflection: Monday, January 26, 2015

Today was my first Monday as I Student Teach at Comal Independent School District’s Canyon High School. Surprisingly, it was an incredibly exhausting day although it wasn’t a particularly busy one.

The day began with disappointment as the AP Art students relayed to my cooperating teacher that they had not completed their homework. Not one student had taken 5 photographs that show motion, as assigned. Because of this, my cooperating teacher handed them her camera and sent them out into the halls to take the photographs, the same thing they had done Friday during class. It appears that my teacher may be a bit too lax on deadlines. It may be beneficial to stick to a deadline so that students won’t feel as if they don’t actually have to complete their homework. Perhaps accepting a participation/progress grade would also encourage students to complete their work.

While the AP Art students were taking photographs, my cooperating teacher asked me to hang up the student examples and reference material for the next Art I project, primitive printmaking. She had years’ worth of student examples showing gum eraser prints as well has two posters that help show the four different techniques in printing from an eraser. I was able to tack up all of her resources on the large tack board in her room. When I have my own art room, I would love to have a large tack board like this. It makes it incredibly easy to hang and show student work, examples, reference material, criteria, or whatever else you would like students to easily be able to see. My cooperating teacher notes that it’s one of the only things she likes about her art room. Thankfully, my cooperating teacher gave me a copy of several printmaking resources that she had such as artist information and a student evaluation. It is always helpful to receive teaching materials.

After hanging up the resources, my cooperating teacher and I finished our Painting IV examples. After allowing our t-shirts to dry, we were now ready to soak them in a setting solution before washing away our glue resists and hopefully revealing the final design. We created a batch of solution, stirred our shirts for 5 minutes, rinsed and washed them off, and then set them out to dry on the patio. Unfortunately, our t-shirts did not come out successfully. The project was supposed to enable the students to dye fabric using a glue resist. After creating a design and drawing it in clear Elmer’s glue on fabric, one would then apply fabric dye to the shirt once the glue had dried. With a finished painting, a solution could be added to help keep the dye in place before washing away the glue. Unfortunately, I believe that we used too much water when applying the dye to the fabric and may have washed the glue away prematurely. Because my teacher had never done this project before, she didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. This experience helped show how doing something beforehand can help you teach the lesson better and will possibly bring about better results. Because of this, I was then able to tell the class to use less water when they create their own designs.

Later, the AP students returned from their photographing adventure and showed their results on the projector. Unfortunately, my cooperating teacher was incredibly disappointed to find that none of their photographs were successful in capturing motion as they had been instructed. The class ended as they were instructed to do better the next day. It appears that the students may need better instruction before being allowed to work on their assignment independently.

Following AP Art was two rounds of Art I and again the students had not completed their homework. From an outward perspective it appears that my cooperating teacher may be too loose in regards to deadlines. If none of her students completed their homework, they must have learned that she’ll just give them class time to complete it. While the students’ sketches of trees were supposed to be due at the start of class so that the Printmaking unit could begin, my cooperating teacher decided to allow them an extra day to complete their sketches. She decided that she would begin instruction tomorrow.

While the Art I students were working on their tree sketches, my cooperating teacher took the chance to teach me how to operate the electronic attendance system. I was given her username, password, and pin number and was allowed to access the system from the Windows Start-Up screen. She remarked that she’d like me to take attendance from now on so that I can get the hang of it. The system surprised me at how simple it is to operate.

Throughout the rest of class I decided to sharpen the large collection of colored pencils. Because the Special Needs students complete their assignments so quickly, they often enjoy free-draw time using markers or colored pencils. On Friday I noticed that almost all of the colored pencils were broken or un-sharpened. I spent a large amount of time sharpening many of the colored pencils and developed blisters on my fingers. It’s much harder to sharpen so many pencils than I thought! I was able to sharpen a large batch, but not nearly the entire drawer’s worth.

Today was another discouraging moment for me as I interacted with a student. After blistering my fingers raw, I began to circulate the room and help students sketch their trees. Some students were finished, so I would offer advice to make their composition even better. One student in particular seemed discouraged after I offered her ways to better her artwork. She seemed heartbroken and disappointed as I tried to thank her for completing her sketch and praised her skilled work. I feel that she only took the negative from what I was saying when I told her that her composition could use more contrast and suggested adding darker darks. It was made worse when my cooperating teacher came by and later told her to add brighter whites by erasing some of her medium grays. “But she just told me to make it darker!” she cried out, pointing to me. Unfortunately, because her composition was made up of so many medium grays her piece could have benefited from both darks and lights, but after adding darks, she was fed up and didn’t want to work on the drawing anymore. I thought that I was encouraging when giving suggestions, but I may need to work on my communication skills.

Because today was a work-day for all classes, my cooperating teacher took the opportunity to teach me more about her job. I was especially interested in how she addresses her large number of Special Needs students. We talked about how she grades them, assigns them work, and lesson plans for them. We also identified a student that I will observe for the rest of my placement. I will be recording his daily activities in a journal for my supervisor. Unfortunately, that student was absent today and I won’t be able to start observing until tomorrow.

The day ended with grading as my cooperating teacher pulled out three classes of Art I color wheels that needed to be graded. We began grading together as she showed me her “fast system.” Quickly going through all of the pieces, my teacher would separate the pieces into different piles. “Wow, this is fantastic!” she would say with one. “Eh, this one’s okay,” she would say with another. “Yikes, this isn’t very good at all.” With three completed piles, she then explained that they would normally get A’s, B’s and C’s, and D’s and F’s respectively. She then explained that she would grade each one separately in pencil so that she could change it if need be. After then grading all of them, she would compare them all to each other once more and adjust the grades from there. I was incredibly nervous to grade without a set rubric. The “Wow method” is so subjective. The entire time I felt uncomfortable and desperately wished for a rubric.

Thankfully, after I had finished grading one class’ work, I asked my cooperating teacher to check the grades I assigned. She agreed with them and asked me to continue on to the next class. She did suggest that I write less feedback though, as the student’s wouldn’t read it all, and to also lessen my vocabulary to their level. I found that I had been writing “differentiated” a lot as I was referencing the tints and shades that needed more work. Every time I grade in this class, however, I realize how much I want to utilize a grading rubric. I feel that it would have made grading much easier.

Although today was pretty standard, I ended up incredibly tired by the end of the day. Once I got home I fell straight to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be so tiring!

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