I have had the worst year in computers… my back up portable hard drive with over 15 years of content… died. then this website exploded and my phone died all within a few weeks of each other. Hopefully my site is fixed for now, but I will probably need to completely redo the site at some point and start from scratch.
However, I am focusing on my personal art right now so that won’t happen anytime soon. Meanwhile I hope you can find some of my around the room and other choice content.
I have been very neglectful of my blog this year. So much so that it took me forever to figure out my password. Now that I am here, this is a long post… since it covers a year of amazing highs and lows.
Let’s start with the lows:
My biggest issue this year turned out to be my health. What started in September as shoulder tendonitis, morphed into a torn rotator cuff and a wait for surgery, followed by 8 weeks of medical leave. I am still recovering, returning to school with only 3 weeks left and a lot of “clean-up” to do after 3 different subs. Sadly a majority of my kids did not take any of their work seriously while I was gone. Nor did they take care of the classroom and supplies. It was a long time to be with a sub so we were all pretty happy when I got back.
Another low was being in a tiny (less than 700 sq ft) temporary room with a lack of storage and one small sink. Our school is deep into a major remodel. So last June, I packed up my old art room (1100 sq feet and 3 separate storage rooms) after purging for almost a whole year. Our campus was part construction zone, part portables and part old falling apart building. The good news is, next year, I will be in a glorious new building with an epic art space. (here’s a little preview…)
Another… I’ll say challenge… was all new, very green, admin staff. After years of excellent admin the switch was dramatic. Hopefully next year will be a fresh start with higher expectations, more organization and consistency.
Luckily the highs were amazing enough to allow me to survive the year.
First, I received the Pacific Region Middle School Teacher of the year award. My district is great with publicity and social media. So even before going to the NAEA convention in March, I had newspaper articles, social media and local blog posts as well as lots of praise from students, staff and families. The buzz got the attention of local King 5 news, who sent out a reporter and cameraman to do a segment on my program and my students. This 5 minutes of fame will certainly be a career highlight.
Also at the Boston convention, The Choice Art Special Interest Group held a very successful sold-out pre-conference workshop. Three rooms and ninety participants spent the day sharing TAB centers, demos and other successful practices. We also had a great business meeting with almost 100 teachers networking and talking Choice.
Another career highlight was being invited to be a keynote speaker at TAB Colorado. While this is not my first time presenting (I have presented sessions at national and my own state conferences since 2004) it was my first time being a paid keynote speaker. My talk was followed with a break out Q and A. It was a fun experience, especially since I have wanted to attend the TAB Colorado for a few years.
All and all I had some tough students and some excellent ones. I tried many new things, but a lot of the year I was just treading water to stay afloat in a hectic and difficult year. Chronic pain can really dampen your enthusiasm for all parts of life. At this point I am looking to the future while leaving this year behind in the literal rubble that is a construction zone. Sadly, we are still here on June 21st… finishing up the last of our 5 snow make-up days due to the Seattle Snowmageddon of 2019. Now, I’m ready for summer and a fresh start in the fall.
New semester and 150 new kids to get to know and introduce to the TAB art room. Taking a start from Melissa Purtee when she discussed “good art” with her students, I also decided to pose this question. But I took a little different approach.
First I had them make some art. My 7th and 8th graders got together in groups of 3-4 and received a bag of sculpture stuff. “Art challenge in a bag” is something I have done many times before and I already had the bags prepped. They had about 15 minutes to make an animal/creature. We had a points system with points for using all the materials, bonus for NOT using tape, adding color, etc. After they created, we talked about what characteristics “good art” should have. Then they had to decide, did they make good art? The answers were happily a resounding yes!
I had 6th graders do a similar series of art and discussion, but we did the “roll a drawing” game before having our discussion. Overall, I was very pleased with the first day and the kids all enjoyed their first day in art.
The next day we talked about what is an art studio and how should we use and share this community space. After talking about the general idea of a studio, what is in it and how it is used, I told them that this is their art studio. But it is shared by 150 kids every day. I compared the community studio to the idea of sharing a room with a sibling vs having your own bedroom. What is different when you share? Then, together in small groups then whole class we discussed safety, respect and responsibility as it applies to the art room. We used that to design our “community agreements” aka group norms aka class rules. This all period lesson was much more tedious for all of us, but it is necessary in my high needs school to set clear expectations.
Then we were hit by the ” Snowmageddon” … no school Monday or Tuesday… then 2-hour late start on Wednesday and Thursday… and 2-hour early dismissal on Friday. So we continued with some artistic habits centers, as well as taking in some Bob Ross. With more snow, this weekend, not sure when we will have school again… but eventually we will get into Draw around the room.
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Cynthia Gaub has been Teaching FOR Artistic Behavior in a variety of modified and full-choice ways since 2004. Her middle school students vary from year to year in her urban, high poverty, high English Learner and high special education population… so the way she offers choices changes with them. Blogging and Presenting at state and national conventions since 2000, she has packed out rooms for her “Around the Room” presentations in many locations. She has shared her lessons, student art and games on www.artechtivity.com as well as publishing in many arts education magazines, and contributing to TAB books, including “Studio Habits” and “Engaging Learners.” As she transitions from Washington Art Education Associations’s Co-president into the NAEA Choice Interest group’s Co-president Elect, she will begin to share her techniques and TAB style in other states. For Colorado, she will share her journey with TAB and Choice from the beginning till now.