Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gettin’ ‘Er Done!

Ideally, I like to teach one workshop a week, with the occasional weekend class that pops up from time to time. This allows me the much needed time to prepare for each class. People are often surprised when I tell them that a fifteen hour class (5 hrs./day x 3 days) takes between thirty-five and forty-five hours to prep.

Every once in a while, my schedule gets quite crammed… like now! By the end of this Friday I will have taught three classes and created three paintings within the last ten school days, working with sixty-five students. I saw this time coming and that’s why I spent so much of my ‘time-off’ getting ready. I never think of complaining… Like me pappy uzedd ta say “Just get gettin’ ‘er done!”

On Monday I was finishing a painting with one of the grade three classes. The day began with a flurry of confusion. A few of the students had forgotten their colouring sheets in their flurry to get out school, last Friday, and they were panicking with their pencil crayons. Very soon, we had them relaxed… we just told them the colouring contest would begin later in the day. Their teacher even gave them a small period of time to work on their art and poetry.

Now, that they were little humans again, the painting continued…

These students were an absolute delight to be with. Each one was so full of positive energy and they all showed great skill when they painted. Soon, their masterpeace was completed…

I always like to have a few of the students wearing their ‘Art For Earth’ T-shirts in the group photo we take at the end of class, so we had to have our colouring contest. For the last few colouring contests, I’ve been selecting just the first winner. I then ask the winner to chose their favourite artwork and the second winner is selected. I repeat myself to the class between each new judge that the art must be selected based on its creativity and not who created it (or else they may choose their friend’s art). The students have proven themselves to be very honest with what they like in the way of art!!! These are the artworks created by the five winners…

And – as always – I’ve taken lines from several of the students’ poems to create this one collaborative…

P olar Bears are mammals
L ittering is bad
A ir is what we breath
N o more garbage
E at good food
T he Earth has vibrations

E veryone eats food
A ll people should be nice
R ead about how you can help the planet
T ry to clean our litter
H ow can you help our planet???

Then we had the group photos, one with their teacher and one with me…

Today, I was teaching in the other grade three class, right next door to my previous class. So, of course, I popped my head into their room and smiled with a “Bonjour, mes amis!!!” Then it was time to meet my new artists.

These students were equally as great as my last class. They were polite, raised their hands to speak (most of the time), and they laughed at my silly jokes, so I was very happy.

I always begin with a little interactive chat with the students, discussing all the varied art forms that are in the world. The students will tell me stories about how they like to dance, play musical instruments and paint. We talk about art at the dinner table, art in math class and art in finding solutions to clean our water and air.

Then, I played my guitar for a few moments.

Denise was my guest speaker, again, cuz she’s just so gosh darn smart! Denise can talk about a variety of habitat topics, and her specialty is wetlands and that was the topic of this class.

Denise had brought a few more items to show, for this presentation, and the students loved it. They each had a turn to examine a snake skin, that had been naturally shed…

… and the fur pelt of a muskrat!!!

Denise had asked the students – remember that they are only in grade three – if they could name the different species of animals that live in wetlands. The first answer was ‘amphibians’, then ‘birds’ and then ‘crustaceans’ and before they could continue I interrupted, “Excuse me, but I must be in the wrong class room. I thought I was teaching grade three students… not university graduates! How do you know words like ‘crustaceans’? I’m not even sure if I know what it means!!!” The teacher smiled and gave them a compliment. I was blown away!
After the lunch break and recess, the painting began…

The students had a great time and they did a fantastic job with their paintbrushes. Soon, it was time to leave for home. Many students came to say good-bye to me and I thought that was really nice. One of the last remaining three students was still sitting at his desk, gathering his books and he spoke across the empty room, “Mr. Jim, thanks a lot for coming to our classroom to teach us. It’s been a lot of fun having you here.” I had to pause for an instant before I could thank him for his kind words. The generation that is growing up in our midst is very special and kindly. They will accomplish what we are afraid of even trying… of that fact I am most certain.


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