Today was a pretty interesting day as far as scheduling goes. Today was a Cougar Time day, so each class was cut 10 minutes to allow for a Cougar Time between 2nd and 3rd Period. This time is set aside for students to participate in activities while led by a student leader. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of Cougar Time is as the group that comes to my classroom plays games and receives food from their student leader. I don’t really see anything educational happen and my cooperating teacher says it’s pretty much a waste of time. It looks like a fun way to break up the day, so I enjoy the variance, but it doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose. I even hear the students complain about the waste of their time.
Not only was it Cougar Time today, but there was also a fire drill during 2nd Period today. I had been told the fire drill procedure on the first day, so I wasn’t caught off guard, but it was interesting to see the drill set in motion. It looked to be about the same as the fire drills we would have at the residence hall I worked at. The students did not evacuate from the building far enough and were constantly needing to be told to back up even further. It didn’t help that there was a small concrete half-wall before a ditch area that prevented many students from going any further.
Today I finished cutting the linoleum plate that my cooperating teacher encouraged me to start as an example for the Art I classes yesterday. I had decided to draw a fox portrait with a close-up perspective. I focused on showing a lot of texture in the fur and was hoping that it would come out well. I was able to print the plate during the AP Class during 1st Period since that class is an independent group and requires little to no teacher interaction. My teacher and I were ecstatic to find that my prints came out well and even the AP students were interested in seeing them. From creating this example, I have been able to help some students achieve more texture in their designs, create more varied linework, and show them what an acceptable print should look like. I’m pretty happy with the turn out, which is surprising as I’m not a fan of printmaking. My cooperating teacher even recommended that I sell my prints.
The Art I classes were not so blissful, as usual. Today we began printmaking and it was chaotic. My cooperating teacher started each class with a demonstration of the printmaking. I found that I was unable to help students until I saw the demonstration myself because my cooperating teacher prints untraditionally. Because students did not want to clean the bench hooks after printing on them, she has abandoned that concept and adopted a throw-away concept. First off, she would not allow anyone to print until three students were ready. Once three students were ready to print, she would allow them to start a “printing station” in which they would tape newspapers to the entire table. Then they would tape wax paper on top of the newspaper and aluminum foil on top of the wax paper. They had to tape all four sides of the aluminum foil down as it would act as the inking plate. She then instructed students to place a quarter-sized amount of ink on the foil and spread it out using the brayer. She told the class to look for a “satin finish,” something girls would understand but the boys would not. I’m a girl and I didn’t even know what she meant by that. Then the students could print by spreading the ink with the brayers, applying it to their plates, pressing paper on to the plates, labeling the prints, and placing them on a dry rack. The process sounded simple, but it was a nightmare to manage.
Students were incredibly rough and destructive with the supplies. My cooperating teacher hid the ink, tape, and brayers until students needed them, so a lot of my time was spent retrieving them and hiding them again. With the supplies that were readily available such as the newspapers, wax paper, and aluminum foil, the students used an excess of, way more than they needed. I was also appalled when I saw them spreading the ink. Students would cover the entire workspace in ink when trying to spread it out, then apply an enormous glob of ink, spread more, and then complain that there was no more ink in the tube. I kept explaining to students that they should only spread the ink in a back and forth motion with the brayer in one place to keep the ink from spreading everywhere and thinning too much. Several times, the students would rip through the aluminum foil and have to recreate the printing station. Students were in such a rush to complete all of their prints and, as a result, the prints did not come out well. They were not labelled or labelled incorrectly, there were ink smudges all over them, and they were crooked on the papers, sometimes corners not even making it onto the papers. My cooperating teacher explained that 6 prints would earn a C grade and 10 would receive an A, and I was surprised to find some students settling for the 6 prints, merely accepting a C has their grade. I was quite taken aback by the students today.
I have many complaints about the way my cooperating teacher handles printmaking. I would like to have enough bench hooks for each student to have one. I think that students should stick to the bench hooks for printing. Even though my teacher said they didn’t like cleaning them in the past, I feel that this new method is much more work, still requires cleaning, wastes materials, doesn’t introduce the traditional printing method, and allows for many more problems. With the bench hooks, students are limited to a much smaller inking surface and would be less likely to waste as much ink as I saw them waste today. They would not be able to tear through their inking surface and have to restart and would not have to worry about taping down newspaper, then wax paper, then foil. All of these supplies would not be needed if the students just used soap and water to scrub the bench hooks afterwards. Even with the newspapers and foil, the students still had to clean ink from the desks afterward, so they still ended up needing soap and water at the end of the day. I just felt that this process was excessive and inefficient.
Today was also a challenge with the Special Needs students. Today, the Special Needs assistants were out and substitutes took their places. Because of this, my teacher did not want the Special Needs students to print. She simply stated that and went back to managing the class, so I felt required to accommodate for them. I often feel that I care about accommodating for the Special Needs group more than my cooperating teacher does as she’ll often leave them unaddressed. I offered that instead of printing the plates they had made we could do rubbings of them. I brought out colored pencils and markers since my teacher doesn’t have crayons and demonstrated how to create a rubbing from the plates they had made. The substitute assistants didn’t seem thrilled with the idea, but I thought it was a good replacement if printing wasn’t going to happen that day.
The day ended with Painting II in which students are painting abstract self-portraits. Today, my cooperating teacher allowed students who had finished to try painting a tiny still life with the watercolors on her best watercolor paper. I saw a student who normally needs a lot of encouragement to begin working staring at a blank sheet of paper and decided to help him one-on-one to get started on his still-life. I enjoyed demonstrating for him, answering his questions, and seeing his interest in the subject increase. At the end of the day, he had a completed still-life. While I worked with this student, my teacher worked one-on-one with the student from last Friday who felt too afraid to work. He ended up not liking the work he completed on Friday and started over today with the help of my teacher. He’s becoming difficult to work with as he often won’t accomplish anything without the direct help of an instructor. There are many students in this class who lack confidence and it’s becoming difficult trying to encourage them.