Day 8 for me.

It’s Friday. Second 6-day cycle at my first school. It’s less than ten minutes from my house! I sat down to my makeshift desk and realized that I never submitted attendance for my middle school classes Wednesday or Thursday. Crud. When I was in secondary, I was on top of attendance. Timely and consistent. I was NEVER “that teacher” who our secretary requested timely attendance from in years past. I WAS the teacher who shook her head thinking, just get your attendance in like we are suppose to!

Walking down the hall to have my morning temperature taken, one of the teachers noticed that I was dressed up, and mentioned that “you must not have gotten the jeans day memo.” Oh, don’t worry, I did. I’m just afraid that there’s no way of fitting into my pre-COVID jeans at this moment. Dresses are flowing and less constraining. I have lost 3 pounds since starting school 8 days ago, but I am NOT ready for any disappointment that my once comfortable jeans may now present to me.

I experimented this morning with sharing supplies and disinfecting in between use. 4th grade used bingo daubbers. After each use, they placed them into a bin labeled, “Place used supplies in this tub.” While the artists were freely creating based upon their theme, I snuck to the tub several times, wiping down the daubbers, so that they could be used again and again in art class. It worked, but I need a better system for this. And, without a drying rack in the room, the artists made a clever decision to place their personal clothesbasket (for their personal items like a backpack) upside down, over top of the artwork on the floor to protect it as it dried. First experience with paint, even in its simplest form, was a success.

I almost have enough individual sets of markers and colored pencils for 4th grade at one school. One step closer to normalcy, well kind of.

Hey there little guy, I’ve told you two times now. We keep our shirts down and our hands out of our pants. Here’s some hand sanitizer. Also, please put your mask on over your nose and mouth when you are close to your friends.”

Before school began, I was dreading working from a cart. I have learned to look for the silver lining in this directive. Rules, routines, and procedures have already been established by the classroom teachers. Mine are now a supplement to their own. Maybe I don’t have to spend as much time on my own. The artists already feel an ownership of desk space and take care of it. Supplies are a cinch to clean up. Everyone is in charge of their own materials and tools, as well as putting them back into their respective homes, aka, ziplock bags, plastic containers, seat pockets. There hasn’t been mass chaos of children scrambling to clean like there once was when I first began teaching elementary years and years ago. There is no arrival oe dismissal from my classroom, so no lining up or fighting over whom is the line leader. Once I leave the classrooms, I only have to switch my Google Classroom from one grade to the next, and there is no need to worry about cleaning up my classroom studio space. Oh, how I do miss my classroom studio space.  I have old AV carts at each of my schools as my portable teacher space and studio. Each of the 3 look identical and are stocked with everything I would normally have at my own desk in my own classroom, in addition to any supplies or materials for each of my k-6 classes. This consistency is what I need.

Upon arriving to 2nd grade this morning, I observed that the lesson inspiration I had planned to do had already been done by the classroom teacher. Some artwork was displayed at the wall confirming this. A week ago, I had suspicions that this might happen because I saw the same book, “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds, stashed near the teacher’s desk. Just in case my instincts were correct, I had a back up plan and another of his books to use. Luckily, when I asked if the artists wanted to either revisit this story and make even more artwork with more materials or select my back up plan, the class unanimously voted to revisit “The Dot.” They were so excited that they would be able to do MORE with what they had learned. They were also eager to teach me “The Dot” song, but unfortunately, we ran out of time.

I can’t even believe it. I finished my coffee before I started my lunch!

Welcome, Jess, to office duty, the quietest time of your day.

The PTO of one of my schools provided some funds to help fund classroom supplies. A colleague of mine told me this would happen, but I had forgotten. Shopping spree for art materials this weekend! Woo hoo!

I have been blessed by people who care for the arts. Last week, a friend and parent of artists at one of my schools donated markers and colored pencils. Another friend and colleague provided watercolor sets and pet dishes (I use them for no-tip water and sponges for painting). It was enough to supply my 3 middle school classes. You know that awesome custodian who left me a note the other day? She encouraged her church to choose to help buy art supplies as one of their missions. Over the summer, a friend and neighbor donated kid-sized aprons for my classroom studio. A neighbor of a friend donated a bunch of drawing materials, too. A few weeks ago, I pulled into the driveway of a long-time friend. She donated so many card crafting, scrapbooking, paint, stamping tools, drawing materials, containers and other art supplies that it filled our trunk and back seat.

Oh kindergarten, you are tired and restless at the end of the day, just the time I arrive for art. You are still so sweet, and I understand why it feels good to roll around on the floor, sprawl out and relax, and tell me how much you miss your mama. I wonder if my son feels the same way at this time in the afternoon.

There is no feeling of exhaustion quite like the exhaustion that sets in on Friday afternoon after a full week of teaching. It seems that when I step foot inside my home, the weight of my world hits me all at once, and I feel drained. Teacher friends, we have successfully completed our first two weeks of teaching during a pandemic; for some of you, more than two weeks. Bravo! For many of you, including myself, you will not have the option of relaxing and refueling this weekend before returning on Monday morning. Lessons for in-person and virtual learning will not wait on the back burner because our students must learn when we arrive on Monday. Do something for yourself. Find some bit of time to relax. I firmly encourage you to do so, just as my therapist advised for me.

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