Thursday, October 30, 2008

YES WE CARVE! or at least i do.

I hoping they'll post it on the site!!!
BARACK the Lantern!!! oh yeah, and vote too....

Almost there

It's the end of my Thursday. Just need to prep for tomorrow and I can go home.

It's been one of those weeks where nothing goes according to plan. My one saving grace is my Unit 2. As about as consistent as a class can get. They come on time, work hard, I get to interact with them individually, we talk about their work. It's great. I couldn't ask for a better end to any teaching day. Unit 2 is like a group of 16 year olds. Most of them have been here for a while, and it's not as transient as most other units. Maybe that's why? They're used to each other, they treat each other more like brothers. It's a comforting feeling I think. They're much more at ease.

Even with their artwork they're taking more risks than any other class. I never hear "I can't". So I have to say, the end of my days are a breeze. I'm glad I get to end with them and it makes me appreciate where I teach. Because, with them, at least I know they're doing more than just finishing an assignment, they're putting their own stamp on it, and creating work that is meaningful to them.....

I really need to post some pictures soon.... As soon as I find my card reader.

Anyway, tonight is pumpkin carving at home. And yes, I have seen I LOVE IT! At least one or 2 of my pumpkins will be dedicated to the election. Most of them are really easy to do. I think the hardest part of pumpkin carving is the digging out of all the "guts".

Next week will be interesting! I'm going to really wish I had Wednesday off, because we'll be following the coverage at a bar... Iota, I think? Jolie Holland is playing (I love her) and of course there will be election coverage....and many beverages...

But, I shouldn't complain. All I have to do is make it through, and then it's of to Colorado for an extra long weekend!! I'm so excited. I can't wait to be out there, I hope we have a little bit of time to go on a hike, and make it to the Boradmor. We'll also be in Denver, I'll make a repeat visit to the Denver Art Musem (it's AMESOME) And this time I'm getting the DAM t-shirt (yes, pun intended).

Ok, so maybe this week wasn't so bad. Certainly there is always light at the end of tunnel.

Barack the vote everybody!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

ain't nothin' but a GS baby...

Yes, they've coined a new word for me at work... I am a "GS" - gangtsa-socialist. I have no problem with that either. It's true, I'm respected by many on and off the streets while I seek social justice for ALL.

Damn right, you heard?

It's ridiculous that sometimes at work it feels like it's going ever-so-smoothly, and then BAM- it just disintegrates

Bottom line is that my students' work is getting censored. I'm not even being asked about it, or anything. People are just coming and taking down random pieces of work. WHAT? I don't get it? At least come to me and say," hey I noticed that this piece is gang-related, here's why...".

Not only that, but they're taking books from kids that are non-fiction pieces, written by former gang members or criminals that are sharing their stories so kids like mine can make better choices, or get the courage to get out. IT'S UTTERLY RIDICULOUS.

So, what's a d-home teacher to do? Well, the one thing I will NOT do is stop making my students think. I'm truly impressed by the work that my students churn out (if given the chance to finish). Most pieces are thoughtful, emotional, and just amazing. As I said before, some kids try to put gang symbolism in their work, but if I catch it, I usually give them a chance to change it, and you know what? They usually do without any problem.

Today that same thing happened. I saw a kid using blue- and only blue. I was handling the situation just fine when the detention specialist just flew off the handle about gang-this and gang-that. Normally, the kid would have just added something...that's the kind of kid he is. Is he connected? FOR SURE! But he's also a reasonable 17 year-old, which is extremely rare.

I know I keep going back to the same thing, but how are kids supposed to get past where they are? How are kids supposed to problem solve? I would rather have a calm, individual discussion with the kid first, than just tear right into the kid....ARGH~!

Gangs, totally serious issue, needs to be handled constructively. Not through even more aggression and hostility. They're used to that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ok, it really does exist..and interpretations

My students are doing a project with text. We've looked at a lot of art from all over-- especially at graphic design, and of course people like Jasper Johns, Jenny Holzer, and Islamic art. So they get the idea that they're turning their poetry, word, quote into a piece of art that carries across the theme of their words.
So this kid comes to me and says I want to do something about where I'm from. I'm like ok. He's from Florida-- so I figure his theme will be kind of sunny and fun...because he's like that, and he really misses home.

Yesterday he was working really hard on the lettering. He's doing all kinds of crazy graffiti, and it looks GOOD. But I look at it, and I say to him... "Plant City? You're from Plant City...ummm, I don't think so." He's like, " No Ms. I really am, it's an actual place, I'm not trying to be like that." I say,"Really, there's a Plant City? In Florida?" He goes, "Yea, Miss. And they have a strawberry festival and everything, I can't believe you haven't heard of it, it's true." So I say," Ok, I believe you, I just want to make sure you're not going to get into any trouble. Can you show me."

So here you go.... it may sound drug related...but it does exist:

I'm pretty sure he has a lot of friends in here because they all know he's from Plant City.... but anyway.
I can't wait to hang it up and get all the grief. People jump to all sorts of ideas. I'm thinking about just hanging up a map that shows that this is an actual place.
About a month ago they took down about 4 pieces of art that they said was "gang related" (isn't everything?) without telling me. And when I went upstairs and asked them to show me just what actually was gang related, they didn't show me... They were just trying to censor the kids, mainly because they were putting out some kind of truth that they actually know about.
Makes my face turn a tomato color because I realize that it really is all about censorship.
Today a different student and I were saying that everything seems to get that gang-related-label. He actually was one of the kids who got censored --and FYI he's not even in a gang-- so it really wasn't gang-related, but more of a coincidence that someone else thought his artwork was. WHATEVER. He and I agreed that it's blown way out of proportion, and it's truly a shame when people go out of their way to find a reason to make objects, pictures, and symbols (most that are cultural) "gang related".
I realize that where I work I do need to know and be aware of what kids are doing. But one of the benefits of where I work, is that I actually get to see them everyday. I know who they are, they know what they can do and shouldn't do. Yes, there are kids that do put typical gang stuff in their drawings, and I do warn them that I have to turn that in. And I'm on top of that. I realize that kids are savvy and some things get put straight past me, but most often than not a kid is really trying to make a genuine piece. Free of "gang" paraphernalia. (whatever that is)
Not to mention the ugliest mural that I keep meaning to take a picture of... This summer students of ACPS were asked to complete a mural with an artist (who definitely got paid a lot). It is the ugliest mural ever, and it's already starting to fade.... But the real kicker is that there are blatant gang symbols in there. How did that pass? Even I recognized it.... I'll have to see if I can manage to take a picture and post it. You will probably see what I mean. I won't even tell you what it is... I'll let you figure it out.
Day by day I become more and more savvy. I need to start remembering the things I learn from my students. Maybe I should write them down and turn them into a book. "J" says I should be doing that already.... I just find every excuse not to. LAZY... I know. That's all it is.
Ok, rambling stops.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sooo Cool!

They just found an old manual typewriter in the ducts in the basement. It must have been there for years, and it must have been from the original owners! It's a Smith Corona Skywriter Typewriter. I can't wait to use it. It obviously needs new ribbon, but I found many places that have it. What a cool thing to find hiding in your house.

Sure, it's not a million dollars, or old wedding rings, or a Rolex, but it's a piece of history.

I'm planning on using it in future art works... I think I just found my newest obsession!


The tides really have turned this weekend, haven't they? And by that I mean.... Colin Powell. YES! I have more and more respect for him the more and more I learn about him, hear him speak, and see his actions. Finally, it took Colin Powell to say it.. in a very eloquent way, he basically said... No, Obama is not Muslim you idiots....and it shouldn't even matter.

Props, he may have even changed my dad's mind... (I really do...)

So I'm really happy about that. REALLY happy. If everyone goes and votes like they say they are, maybe Obama will win by a landslide.

Ahh, elections....this one certainly is exciting.

And BTW-- I picture Palin having some sort of conservative/crazy talk show on tv after the republicans lose... Maybe she could be on the outdoor channel, or have a food network show that revolves around how to make meals out of caribou or moose. I don't know, but I saw her momentary tv time on SNL this weekend, and I just keep thing about how she has no substance. None whatsoever. But it seems like she can read teleprompters very well. And that is key to talk shows.... Move over Sally Jesse Raphael.... time for some new glasses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Road

It's going to be a movie, so you better make yourself read it....if you haven't already.

I just learned of the filming locations, and it seems so very fitting for the bleakness of it all, check it out:

Bleak, I'm surprised they didn't venture slightly north to Clarion. Although Breezewood is bad, alright.

Don't like yard work today.

So, I hate roots. They are horrible things. There are so many going everywhere in the little garden patch. I can barely pull them out.

This garden thing is going to take a lot more work than I expected, and I'm half wondering if I can get a good amount completed by the time it rains (end of the week, they say). I think it will be fine, but loosening up this really hard ground is so difficult.

Don't even get me started on the grass. That's pretty much going to be impossible too. I bought all the stuff, but we need much more top soil, and then I think we might be able to get started on throwing the seeds around. I just hope they germinate before the first frost....

In the meantime, the contractor and his crew have torn out the walls of our basement, and have really opened it up. We're making the little bathroom downstairs full size, and redoing the staircase in wood, as well as putting in some more lights. It's going to be so much nicer, and user friendly....and ready for visitors in about 2 weeks!! I'm really excited. it's going to be so nice. We're even having shelving and storage be put under the staircase. YEAH for storage!!!

Tomorrow I head down to Richmond for an art/music therapist meeting. Should be interesting, last time I went I was glad to meet some peers. So hopefully I'll get to know them a bit more, and it will be a nice and easy day. Although, I'd rather be teaching right now.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My week has ended

Yes, I decided to take a personal day. I have a total of 8. So I figured I would give myself a little fall break. We do have Monday off, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to take an additional day that tags along with a holiday... but my principal said it was fine.

So today my prep time was filled with preparing for the sub. I think i left everything I was supposed to. Sometimes I don't even get a sub.... oh well. I'll be back on Tuesday, hopefully a little bit more refreshed and relaxed. I'm just way too tense lately.

I wish I could use my birthday gift sooner than later... I got a fabulous gift certificate to a fancy-schmancy spa in old town. Can hardly wait!!! I've never been to one before, never had a massage or a facial, or anything like that. I'm looking forward to a day of pampering... It's still a month away though... -sigh-

Ok- my weekend begins now... (which will eventually be filled with house work, but at least I can sleep in the WHOLE weekend)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Why does my classroom have to be colder than the outside temperature? ARGH! So frustrated. We ask nicely, we ask nicely again, we beg, we complain, we cope, we compensate. Why is it so unreasonable that I can't have my room the same temperature as the rest of the building?

The thing is, I know the answer.... It's not the fault of the technology. It's the fault of the Principal's office....I love my principal. And I love our secretary...but it's all her fault. Here's why....

I have started bring my alarm clock with a thermometer to class. I take it to every room I go in. The education wing is cold. ALWAYS... too cold in almost every season. But especially this year. My room reads 4 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of the building, and the residential units. Fine. No biggie. Here's the kicker. Our secretary is using a space heater in the office, which must share a thermostat with the rest of the education wing..... ergo- cold! So, my answer has always been that maybe she should cut her heater off, and then the air conditioner wouldn't be running throughout the building. AND- we'd all be comfortable.

But this is the third year, and I think I'm going to buy a space heater. It's ridiculous. It's like 74 degrees outside, and about 67 in my classroom. That makes no sense at all.

ARGH! I think 72 (which is the temperature in the rest of the building) is quite nice. We would all be extremely comfortable if that were to be the temperature in our classrooms.

Sorry for the complaint.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

No time

I think I'm kind of realizing that I have absolutely no time to write. The house is for sure keeping me busy. I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. I basically go to work, come home and work. Someday we'll begin to feel settle, I'm sure.

School is going great. Students are working hard on their projects. They completed a symbolic timeline, narratives. And now they'll be doing a huge text project. They'll be using they're own poetry, found poetry, lyrics, whatever is meaningful to them.. and create an "abstract" (hate that term) painting using only text. The point is for them to create a mood that goes a long with the writing, but also to create texture and visual interest with the paint color schemes. MAN-- they sure love to mix paint. They can't believe how many colors can be made with just the primaries (plus black and white). And I can't believe they've never been giving the opportunity to do it. These kids are 15!! (at least)

I don't know what it is, but I'm really enjoying the school year this far (makes me want to knock on some wood). But we have super-small class sizes, and kids that who have been there for a while (which is unfortunate and fortunate at the same time). I really have been able to teach, coach, encourage, support, and explore what they're doing, and why. I need to start keeping track, and write a book.

In the mean time, I'm not really working on my own artwork.... And I need to. I think about it everyday, but the only artwork I'm making are examples for class. And even those are half-finished. I keep saying I need to get in gear as an artist.... and I haven't fully done it. Hopefully, now that I'll be in one place, it will be something that I can accomplish in the near future. I just have to make a plan.

Ok--- that is enough time, I suppose. Sure, i didn't talk about politics, or the economy... But we hear about it all the time.