You know those people who say, "If I won the lottery, I'd keep working. Otherwise I'd get bored"?
It’s not that I don’t love teaching Art, it’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever been bored in my life. As a kid, I was always able to get lost in my own world. My dad was in the Air Force and we always had old parachutes that I would use to build forts and hammocks in our small backyard. Mud pies would be carefully crafted and presented to my parents, with my understanding that they actually ate (and enjoyed) them. Given a coloring book, I would zone in with laser-like focus, carefully layering color on top of color. We moved around so much that cardboard eventually became my medium of choice. I would create elaborate housing complexes complete with stylish accents such as curtains and carpet. Growing up, I never uttered those immortal words that insinuated I was “bored,” so I was never told to “go make something,” it’s just what I did. Thankfully, it’s what I still do.
This summer, I was completely free of responsibility. Being an Art teacher I was lucky enough to have two and a half months to explore as many creative avenues as I could. I took classes (ceramics surface design, watercolor, and ukulele), worked in the yard, and finished (or made dents in) old projects. Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten excited about playing with sequins, beads, and felt to make small brooches. In just 14 days, I’ve made 10 intricate and elaborate brooches. There were times when I felt like I didn’t have enough hours in the day just to keep up with all that I wanted to make. So, when people say that I must be ready for school to start back up to keep my boredom at bay (my friends know me better, but my dentist doesn’t) I have to say that I love my job, but I don’t work to avoid being bored. I work to support myself and because of those special kids who want to learn and are excited about art.
As an Art teacher, my challenge is to keep the student projects fresh and evolving, so that I stay excited about them myself. It would be easy to spend all of my time away from school planning new over-the-top lessons. But, I need to keep a balance where I allow my out-of-school self to be fed creatively through my own artistic endeavours so that I am able to pass my own excitement about the art-making process on to my students. Unsurprisingly, I’m also a much better teacher when I am taking classes myself. Not only does it put me firmly in the students’ shoes, but I am constantly reminded of how inspiring a good teacher can be and how frustrating a bad one is.
So I start this school year with a million brooch ideas in my head, which means that some sequins and beads will likely find their way into my classroom this year... even if I did win the lottery.