Spring Semester Begins with a Bang

20 01 2014
Breathes New Life

Jade Pfeifer

One week quickly turned into two before I had a chance to catch my breath.  My classes this semester consists of all advanced level courses and NO Foundations.  I have to admit this is the first time I do not get to know my students in an entry level course and I don’t like it.  I enjoy introducing students to the basics and getting them excited about what is about to happen to them….uncovering something wonderful about themselves.  I love the excitement I see in my student’s eyes when they have just completed the “best work of art they have ever done!”  There is something so great about sharing that moment with my student that I don’t ever want to give up.  I know it happens in my other classes, even in AP art classes, but it is somewhat of a different experience with the new artist revelation that really makes me feel that I did my job.

I now have new faces in my advanced level classes whom I need to get to know.  I need to figure out what they are successful at doing and what do they like to create.  I move along with the basic assessments for the elements and principles of design and color theory, so I do get a grasp of what they know.  We do thumbnail sketches before beginning a new composition, so I can evaluate what they know about compositional layout, how they approach a drawing, and how they manage all of the materials.  Of course every art teacher has methods and techniques that vary, so I need to share my best practices with my new students.  There is an uneven level of comfort and ease with the students whom I have taught Foundations and I know the students sense that.  I strive to make everyone comfortable.  I often make the awkward moments land on me so we all get a good laugh.

This is the first time I am integrating “new to me students” with students I have already had in class.  I do like new experiences but some things you know you don’t like and this I do not like.  I know my students all know each other and all of them are really great and give helpful assistance when needed to locate supplies or offer clarification to students who get confused.    My studio space is very organized and I label everything but the ebb and flow is organic and moves with the climate of the group. I have a Northern accent in a Southern school so it does take some time to get used to words and ways that I say things.  Most of my artists tease me and point out my accent with a laugh.  My new students look confused when I say get a “smock” or yes you can get a drink from the “bubbler”.  My sense of humor is wrapped in my instruction and class management; most of the regulars expect it.  But newer students are not always sure I am pulling their leg.

On to the third week of classes and most of the students have fallen back into routines and everything will settle into a new flow all over again.  Not that I will have much time to analyze deeper into this new experience.  We are sending art work to art shows online submissions, filling out scholarship applications, writing letters of recommendations, and preparing for big art events.  This week we had our first recycle/upcycle fashion workshop. It was a successful workshop and many of my students have a structure started that will enable them to build additional details to create grand garments for the runway show.

Recycle Workshop

One of my students who I have had since she was in 8th grade is now a senior.  She is very talented and a sweet young lady.  I have witnessed her growth for so many years. Her painting is the one at the beginning of this blog post.  I know she is now a confident artist with big dreams to pursue with a portfolio to support her future.    It will be a bittersweet separation when she graduates.  That is what makes being a teacher one of the greatest jobs.  We have the ability to shape and change the future.  We work with young people and it’s not all about tests, information, and assessments.  I feel her painting says it all.


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