Monday, April 19, 2010

Clouds and Illusions

I'm thinking I should have started a whole new blog for this temporary position I took as a high school art teacher.  I've loved my blog...painting every day...experimenting...getting to know some fantastic artists and now calling some friend as well.  When I lost my teaching job two years ago it was devastating...I felt a failure somehow.  Intellectually I understand that it was just a set of circumstances...things I didn't want to see happening with another human being...a new principal who was just after budget cuts and finding followers.  It took me a long time to understand someone would come into a place and be so underhanded to actually undermine another human just for a job. 

My whole life my mother has told me I was naive.  I always wanted to believe the person in front of me.  I always wanted to see the beautiful thing instead of the ugly thing inside of them.  I used to really try hard to see what other people said they saw right away, and I told my mom that I hoped I would grow to not be so naive.  She told me something I've never forgotten.  She told me that I was needed in this world.  God needs people who believe in the beautiful things first.  She also told me that I was in for quite a ride in life because of who I am...I understand now.  She also told me never to change.  Of course a mother would find the beauty in a person she brought to the world...of course she would think I was just right.  I adore my mother.  There are others who love me just like I am, my dear husband, my wonderful children.  I appreciate them.  I adore them as well.  I thank them. But, I'm thinkin a little less naivete might serve.  HA...

I was sad today when I got home because today was a hard day and I just didn't have time to do more than sketch birds #2 and 3.  My sweet husband left for a week so coming home was a bit too quiet.  I think I laid down for a moment and then awoke a couple hours later...good...oh boy...NOW I'm awake at 7 p.m! lol   When I woke up I saw an amazing cloud sitting right over the mountain top across from my house.  I was struck by its beauty first...then its look of power...hovering there over "my" mountain...and, as artists often do...I found a connection with what my day was...what this experience is...I did come home feeling like a big old cloud was over me...Be careful Saundra...no pity parties...:)

Friday a teacher came storming in my room as I was TRYING to get the students excited about landscape painting and demanded to know why I had sent kids to the computer lab on a Friday morning. (apparently there is no teacher in there Friday mornings...)  She raved on and on about how irresponsible it is to send kids into a room with thousands of dollars worth of computers.  I was so SHOCKED...all I could say was "I'm so sorry, I didn't know it wasn't allowed...I thought someone was in there like all the other days...I won't make that mistake again".  Instead of it satisfying her it seemed to fuel her...she kept saying the same thing over and over again...It was like she was stuck on the same phrase and couldn't stop...all I could do was respond "I'm sorry".  So, I went down there with the whole class and waited until the last one had printed their pictures and she actually followed me down there to do the very same thing again.  More apologies on my part.  She finally left.  It caught me unaware.  I wasn't expecting an ambush from the adult population of the school...but...by the end of the weekend I had just begun to laugh it off as another adult perhaps having a bad day.  Decided to let it go and move along...three more weeks I kept saying to myself...About now it seems like years. I have to tell you...I'm no wimp...I've taught in prison schools...I've been attacked, I've gone to funerals of students who couldn't let go of gangs...but wow you all...this assignment is tough! whew!

Today as I prepared a demonstration of atmospheric perspective; using my photograph of Mt. Evans as the reference.  I was hopeful that we could have a week where I could actually get the kids inspired just a little.  Well...that was not to be.  I told the kids they didn't have to watch me demonstrate, but if they wanted to learn about the atmosphere; if it would help them with their finals that would be awesome.  They talked on their phones, they listened to music, they went outside to lay in the sun (supposedly sketching their mountain view...:))...So, I worked at it, sort of hoping someone might learn a little.  I've learned when I move about asking if I can help, trying to give ideas they seem insulted that I am giving any advice...so today was another experiment.  It failed.  I ended up with an ok Mt. Evans in chalk...not many colors...and just regular drawing paper...but I DID finish a piece of artwork anyway!  (It's at school...almost begging to be used as an example for the student that finally figures out they don't know how to do it...and perhaps they will sneak over when I'm not watching to get some ideas...tee hee).

So, about the time I accept that I really can just do the best I can do until their full time teacher returns.   4th period comes...The same behavior...only louder than periods 1 and 2...so...I still travel about the room trying to encourage them to at least get their work out...telling them I'd love to help...this time I was cussed at...this young woman flat out yelled at me that I had no right to interfere with her...she had math to do.  I asked her to go to the library and work if she did not want to work on art as she was disrupting the class.  Period 6...a young man this time who has sat and talked and for the whole two weeks I've been there.  Today I had the "nerve" to ask him to at least try to work.  HE cussed at me and then told me I had no business telling him what to do as I was just a "lowly sub"...I asked him to work in the hall...he just left.  WOW...I'm getting the picture that so many kids just think this place is for socializing.  I think partly because I am a sub...and partly because the full time teacher is rather lax with them...doing them NO favors for later in life...

I've tried to just accept that very few will work...very few care.  In this school you do not have to pass art to pass...so I understand that as well...but I am wondering...what is ahead of these kids when they hit the working world and try the same thing...what is for us all in the future.  I wish I could say this was a low level school...but I'm afraid it is one of the "good" ones...Sad...I'm sorry that they are behaving the way they are...it is not good for them. I will not be good for any of us.

I have to admit I am quite exhausted after only two weeks.  I am feeling a bit bedraggled...just wishing the time would pass and then back to my other life...my first life.  I miss planning dinner...I miss making our bed if you can imagine that!  I miss painting, and experimenting and well, working at the job my husband told me was mine when I lost my full time teaching job.  I miss planning workshops and trying to find avenues to teach in the way that seems to suit me best.  I KNOW...it's only three weeks...but, are any of you like me out there...does your artist soul need to be protected from the world a bit...are you a bit easy to injure??  Oh bother (As pooh bear would say)...perhaps it is just me...naive, silly me...

So, thanks to you all for letting me go on...my house is way too quiet...I have to go again and again for awhile...for at least as long as I can stand it...show no fear, smile...just do my best...so I didn't want to wrestle with these thoughts all night...thank you all for letting me spill!  I'm sure my wonderful husband thanks you too...at least a little...lol

Oh...and this morning there was a big Starbucks coffee on my desk with a note from the yelling teacher saying to have a good day.  Later when I saw her I thanked her and said "no worries"...and...you're not going to believe this...she started in again!  SHEESH!  Let's hope she can just let this go...I have!  Just thought you could use a tickle after my big ole sob story!! 

HAPPY CREATING!! 

10 comments:

beckielboo said...

Oh Saundra, what a sad commentary on our youth and school system. You are the one earning another star in your heavenly crown. Bless you for trying - you never will know if just one was touched in a way that will matter. We can only pray! Bad week for your husband to be away, but again, there will be something good come from this!
Beckie

martinealison said...

Je suis navrée pour vous Saundra... L'incompréhension humaine... fait tellement mal.
J'espère que vous allez mieux...
Parfois moi aussi je me dis que je suis comme une pièce de puzzle. Je ne trouve pas toujours ma véritable place...
Je pense que je me retrouve dans ma peinture... Vous aussi n'est-ce pas?
Amicalement je vous embrasse.

Art with Liz said...

Oh wow Saundra, you are describing all those inner city schools we see on tv! All of us can give you the most sound advice, but being the kind hearted person you are, nothing will work until you harden up! Start to be rude back to that teacher - she shouldn't make her problems yours! Don't know about those kids though - poor you! Hubby will be back soon, so keep you chin up girl. Hugs.

AutumnLeaves said...

I am very easily hurt, Saundra. It doesn't take much for me to be hurt either. I have often thought I was naive as well, and I've been through quite a bit of life experiences that show more the bad parts of people instead of the good. I revel at the awe I feel when I do see someone do or say something good and wonderful and uplifting. It shouldn't be awe that I feel; goodness should be inherent, I think. Imagine the disappointments I feel when people get chinks in their armor. I can only tell you that all you wrote is why I quit subbing, stopped the Masters degree program I was in. Society as a whole have done nothing helpful for our children when they frown at spankings (not beatings, but an old-fashioned spanking), when they provide cell phones and cars and high end clothes and protection from outside authority. Kids aren't much held accountable for their actions and it is still shocking to me. It was the reason I had my own kids in a Christian school as they need to be responsible and accountable. Yet somehow I too missed the mark somewhere along the way. My point? I don't have the answers...My faith is in those kids who do have a strong sense of right and wrong and responsible behavior. I just can't believe that they are all bad and I hope there are parents out there who manage to instill all the right virtues and belief systems and that those kids will be the ones who become government officials, teachers, and parents... (Yeesh, cynic much, Sherry?)

Dean H. said...

Very disturbing to have your life yanked around like that.

Hate to be too simple or repetitive, but soothing truths are in the Bible. All things, even the problems and pain, are in God's plan to make you a more Christlike person. So, though sometimes very hard to believe, we should be thankful for them.

You may also be making an important difference in a few students' lives that you are completely unaware of.

This set of problems will pass, Saundra. You will be happily painting in no time! :)

Watercolorist said...

Is this an inner city school or a school where students come from privileged homes? It doesn't bode well for the future of this country. I agree with Liz about talking back to not only the teacher in question but also the students. Hope the rest of your time there goes better.
Jean

Saundra Lane Galloway said...

WOW, thanks all for the support and comments...It really helps me stay grounded in reality. In school there seems to be a law within the system, and one can get lost mentally in it! I wish I could say this was inner city...but sadly, not...Hopefully we can see an upswing as things move along!! Thanks again all...Ya'll are awesome!!

Julia Kulish said...

Saundra, I just recently started following your blog (and have been really enjoying it!). I am so sorry to hear about your tough experience subbing. What a hard job that is - and unfortunately, especially in the public school system of today. Of course, it's only my humble opinion, but it seems like we as a society are seeing the fruit of thirty years or so of kicking God out of the public schools and therefore out of our kids' lives. It's really sad.
But those schools sure need positive people like you! I hope the rest of your time there goes better. I will be praying for you.

Saundra Lane Galloway said...

Thank you Julia...and welcome if I haven't said it before! And, I soooo agree with you. I'm a big believer in what God does for us all...and I certainly do appreciate every single prayer going out for me...and for the schools...and for those kids!!

Lokelani Forrest said...

And to think that way back when, I wanted to be a teacher. It appears that kids nowadays have no respect for authority. It is a sad state of affairs when teachers, including subs, are treated so shamefully by not only the kids but staff as well. Sorry it is going so hard.

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