It's been about a month into student teaching. I have a great cooperating teacher, Julia Kopp, who also graduated from the UW-Milwaukee program. She is truly amazing and I am learning so much, my head is swimming. It's an International Baccalaureate elementary school Primary Years Program, which is K-5. IB schools offer challenging programs and rigorous assessment that encourages students to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. About half of the students are gifted and the other half is a wide mix of all different levels. I am truly amazed every day at what these kids can do. It has really opened my eyes to a different way of teaching that is inquiry and reflective based.
The students make a lot of decisions in this type of teaching and at first it was a bit scary. You have no idea how it will work, if it will work, but because these students have been learning this way for years, it sort of magically happens. It teaches you to trust in the experience and let go of trying to control how the lesson will evolve.
It has been interesting teaching 2nd graders how to make African animals using clay in only two class periods. Thank goodness Ms. Kopp help me with the demo! The 3rd grade has a unit on energy and we are collecting recycled items and creating four murals for the entrance to the school. 4th grade has a unit on health and we are concentrating on mental health - teaching the students about art journaling. My sister Claudia graciously agreed to come and speak to each class about mental health and the benefits of art journeying. 5th grade just finished a lesson on Art and Advertising and now are starting to learn perspective.
In April I switch to a secondary school and will be learning from Bari Bacun at Hamilton High School. I'm sure it will be as equally rewarding of an experience. One of my cohorts had the same placement and he said she was awesome.
Mostly I have been busy applying for jobs, attending job fairs, and preparing for classes. I miss my studio time but I have been kept so busy I hardly have time to think about it.
Speaking of job fairs, I attended the Milwaukee Public Schools fair today. They predict they will need to fill 700 jobs at least by next school year. I was glad I got there early, because by the time I left it was a mob scene. Contracts were being offered on the spot for choice areas like Special Ed, Science, Math, etc. I noticed those candidates name tags had color coded dots on them. When I would approach someone who had an opening for an art teacher, I could almost see their eyes glaze over. I still think many people misunderstand the importance of art education. Subject for another post I think. I made some great contacts though and for the most part it was very informative and I think I have a better idea on which schools I am interested in.