Thursday, February 16, 2012

Never Again Shall I Paint with my Kids

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say last night was a rough one on account of some food that did not settle well with my stomach. I woke up this morning feeling sick, and that feeling lingers, though it is now just after 6pm. At any rate, today was sort of crazy at school.

The school day started off with a wonderful surprise. I walked into my classroom, and all of the kids were seated and quiet, and greeted me with, "Good morning, Miss!" The rest of the morning continued in a similarly wonderful fashion as I retaught yesterday's math lesson on dividing groups of objects into equal groups. Some kids just didn't get it, so I was able to work with them individually as the kids who did understand played quietly with playdoh.

The class after lunch/recess is almost always crazy as the kids are still hyped up from getting to run around. Usually, that's my class period off so I don't have to deal with it, but Thursdays, I have them for all but one class period. I opted to have music class right after, to let them continue to goof off some but in a slightly more organized fashion.

We have some songs in English that they know that we sing, "I Have Peace Like a River," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," "If You Read Your Bible," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Fairly soon I'll start adding some more songs in. I've also taught them some basic dance steps, step-touches, trains, grapevines, and now a box step. I just started teaching the box step today, using foam squares as guidelines which helped some and hindered others, but it was fun to watch them try. Then, as per usual, I put on some music and allowed them some time to dance freely. This is when I do some swing dancing with a couple of the girls, though I'm not all that good at leading as I can only remember how to easily do one move. I also use calmer songs than when I first started, as they've gotten kind of crazy with the hip hop music.

After that, we settled in for a reading class, but they were still excited from music, so I told them next week we're only going to do two songs of dancing since they can't listen. Their faces held an expression akin to panic when I had to threaten to take away another song, and they finally were able to pay attention to what I was teaching.

My break came without finishing reading the story they were supposed to read, so I'll send it home for homework over the weekend, to be read with their parents, even though the only kids that will probably read it are the ones who can already read it and don't need as much practice. Ah, well. There's only so much I can do, and then they have to help themselves.

After my break came the last class of the day. With the museum trip and party, the schedule was kind of mixed up, but I chose to have art at that time. My voice has been going out near the end of the day for the last couple of days, and today was no different, so I figured art would be a good choice as I could simply give the instructions and then let them paint the simple tree drawing I had done for them.

Well, I gave directions and they got started. They first had to trace the dotted lines to form the picture, and then were able to start painting. As they finished, I helped them get their plastic smocks on. There were a few kids that didn't have them, so I made makeshift ones for them out of plastic bags that were in the class. I tracked down a couple of paintbrushes and paint sets, and the chaos began.

There were 9 kids in the class, and 8 of them were painting (one boy had decided to draw raccoon eyes on himself with a moistened pencil before class, so I wasn't about to trust him with a paintbrush if he couldn't handle a pencil). Each kid had about 5 little containers of paint to work from. This being the first time I had used paint with them, I had not prepared by putting anything down to protect their desks. That was a mistake.

I spent the next half an hour walking around the classroom with a wet one, cleaning paint off of desks and avoiding ill-controlled paintbrushes. I had to open jars of paint for kids that had difficulties, and explain how they were allowed to mix their paints: on the paper, NOT in the jars, always wash off your brush in between. I was in and out of the bathroom, where all the kids were sharing the same sink to wash off their brushes.

About 20 minutes in, Zudy was finished and carrying some of her paints to put them away. She tripped and fell, dropping the open jar of red paint that she had. That's about the point my fear spiked. Trying to make the best of it and capture the craziness of the moment, I pulled out my camera to show the red paint on the floor. As I did that, Connie dropped a jar of white paint off of her desk, and it splattered over quite a large area. Armed with the garbage can and my trusted wet ones, I carefully cleaned up all the paint off of the desk and the floor, but not before several kids stepped in it and smeared it around. Connie actually knelt in it when she bent to pick up the fallen jar, and had white paint all over the front of both pant legs.

As things wound down, I continued to go from desk to desk, wiping up paint and commenting on what a great job they were all doing. I worked on cleaning the sink, where there was paint on the handle, the faucet, and all around the edge of the sink where they were leaning. At some point, Emy got red paint on the sleeve of her shirt because of the crowd in the bathroom and Paola not keeping careful enough track of the location of her wet brush.

Soon enough, all the paintings sat on freshly cleaned desks to dry, the plastic smocks came off, the paintbrushes were cleaned, and the kids were gone. I was a wreck, sweating and even a bit shaky from the stress of there being paint EVERYWHERE.

I shared my frustrations with a couple of the other teachers, proclaiming that I would NEVER paint with them again, that it was just too much craziness and messiness to handle.

Erin gave me some good ideas, though, from her experience with that age and younger, of just giving them the caps with a bit of paint, or having them use q-tips to paint with. The kids had so much fun painting and really loved it that I know I'll do it again, even though the thought scares me. However, next time we will be doing pointalism paintings, using q-tips. I think they'll like it, using little dots to eventually form a picture. So, I'm working on coming up with ideas for that.

So, yeah. Going into art class, I was thinking, "This is going to be kind of crazy, but it'll be a good way to end the day where I can relax a little and let them paint." Now I know the truth of what happens when I let them paint, and painting during art class will be going through some major revisions. (*salutes*)

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