The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

The best and worst day of teaching art in the first year

My blog posts lately seem to be somewhat on the negative side lately… I thought I might lighten the mood a bit by describing some sparks of hope in that first semester that helped me remember the reason why I went into teaching in the first place.

Best Day of the First Semester of Teaching:

I remember a day just before Thanksgiving. Volleyball had just finished up (Did I mention that I also coached volleyball that first year? Busy busy!), so I had a moment to breathe before the end of semester. 

My art students were finishing up value study project where they used many different pencils to to create an abstract drawing of sorts. (It was called “Shattered Values” here is a link to a lesson plan that I found for it. My example is posted here.) One of my male students had just about finished it up and I remember him saying, “This is really cool Mrs. Lewis! I didn’t think I could ever do anything this good.”

Awwww, I think I lived on those words for a solid week! It is so gratifying when you actually get proof that what you are doing is making a difference! We don’t often get these little nuggets when we need them. And I need to remember them when things get tough!

Worst Day of the First Semester of Teaching:

Since I described the best day of that first semester, I thought I would also give you the worst day of teaching, which actually makes me laugh today. Funny the way that looking back at something tragic can be comical…

My worst day needs a little context: about a week before this unexpectedly terrible day, I was doing a “Frosting Color Wheel” with the intro class. I know that it seems a little juvenile, but kids of all ages love frosting and cookies! 

Anyway, I started the project by handing out Nilla Wafers and little cups of frosting. Then one of my paras who was with one of my functional special education students pulls me aside and asked me if I had anything alternate for her student since she had a condition that restricts her diet, so I pulled out some colored pencils and had her draw a color wheel and color it in on that paper. 

So the main portion of the students were mixing frosting colors and eating cookies while she colored here color wheel. No problem! Nobody complained and it seemed like a perfectly fine class period.

Well…apparently, she (the student) had a bit of a break down after school in the middle of the street and wouldn’t even get into her mom’s car. She had a lot of pent up anger and energy!

About a week later, I am summoned to go to a meeting that took my whole plan period and a little of my lunch time in which they had a specialist from New York talking to me and her other teachers about the necessity to NOT have food of any kind in the classroom. My art project was brought up several times and I was on the verge of tears by the time I left the room.

When I finally was released, I rushed as fast as I could to my room, picked up my bike and started for home (I lived close enough to bike, an excellent perk for working in a small town). I was riding as fast as I could so that I could scarf something down before I had to go back to school again. 

But before I got home, I got stopped by a cop. "Can I help you?" I said.

“You sure can!” he said with as much contempt as he could muster. “You ran that four way stop back there! You need to make sure that you stop and look for cars. Don’t be a danger to yourself and others!”

He may have said more, I can’t remember. I think I mumbled an “Okay,” and then went inside to cry through my lunch period. The worst part of it all was, I had to go back to school, AND go to volleyball practice after that!

Wow! It takes a lot longer to go through a bad day than it does a good day…I guess details are just still very vivid. But like I said, it is comical now. I mean, where but a small town would you get stopped on your bike by a cop!

Do you have any inspirational first year stories you’d be willing to share? Or can you top my no good, terrible, very bad, day? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear them!