On Friday, I accepted a position as a middle-school Art teacher, and school starts on Tuesday. That is four days, or 96 hours, or 5,760 minutes, or 345,000 seconds to get ready to teach an age level, I have not really taught in a traditional school setting (also the equivalent time of watching James Acaster's Repertoire special on Netflix about 27.9 times). I have taught middle school at summer camps and after school programs, but not in a daily, regular, GRADED, situation. What do I do? Where do I start? Well, it probably shouldn't be calculating the length of comedy specials divided into the limited time that I have until I start.
So many different ideas of where to start...Do I play it safe and adapt some curricula I have done already, and just get deeper with the concepts? Do I construct the gamification/choice curriculum that I started to think about like 7 years ago in grad school? Do I construct a curriculum around the construction of an educational TV program where the students make the props, costumes, sets, puppets, etc. all while contributing to the content while demonstrating Art-based games, activities, and discussion strategies? I am overwhelmed by these questions, the fact that I don't really know anything about how this school runs, and (thankfully) the size of the classroom. It is likely twice the size of most of the rooms I have ever taught in. So I think what I am trying to focus on for now is making it a space the students and I want to be in, and I will try to figure the rest out over some time. If I can get through the first week with some - "get to know you", "what is art", "what do we want out of this time" sort of conversations with the classes, I can give myself time and get a sense of what it is that these kids need.
It is not a full-time position, sadly. It is like a 2/3-time job. But on the bright side, some breathing room to figure out what a middle school student is like, can be helpful. Also, I have always struggled a bit with the art-teacher/art-maker balance, and this might help that me figure that out a bit. I just need to figure out some better ways to make the art-maker part pay some more bills. Not because money is all that important, but because I can't make or teach more Art if I can't take care of myself and my family. More on that for another time. For now, I take on the role of classroom interior designer. There is a whole world of things left behind by the last teacher in this room, and maybe even a few teachers before that, but I have to start somewhere.