Student work: this image makes me long for the carefree life of High School!
As the school year begins to wind down, I am reminded that the school year never truly ends for teachers. The summer is a time to relax and recharge, but it is also a time for reflection. Reflection can sometimes by missed or skipped due to our busy schedules and fast-paced lives. Teachers can often skip reflection all together due to trying to cram everything in before the close of the school year. But taking time to reflect is a very important part of education. In my art classes, we work hard and fast on school projects in order to create, create, create! Talking about what was done really helps the high school students understand what they did and WHY. And it also helps me to understand what they thought about a particular lesson or project.
This summer, I plan on taking my time and renewing my love for teaching. Statistics state that most teachers leave the profession after only three years. I was just talking to my sister-in-law about the new rigorous educator evaluation system being put into place next year. Her question to me: "Do doctors or lawyers undergo an evaluation system like the kind that teachers are put through? How can teachers not get burnt out?" Great questions--and those answers are better saved for another post. My point is that this is my 3rd year of teaching, and I won't lie and say that I'm not exhausted! I have found that I have put so much time and effort into teaching (working what feels like around the clock), that I think I need a bit of a break. No, I'm not leaving; I just need time to reflect on the past three years and decide what works, what doesn't, and how should I continue in order to be successful in the future. During the last summer I have taken art courses, photographed weddings, and relaxed with friends and family; this summer I plan to do the same, but with more time spent reflecting and relaxing. How am I doing and what can I do better--both in my career and in life. I cannot imaging working as a CEO for 80 hours a week with 2 weeks or less of vacation. Our bodies and minds need to rest and recharge--that is why we need to sleep 7 hours a night. I feel that Americans neglect this rest and reflection even though there have been many studies that cite the benefits. Because teachers have the summers off, we are helping our students to succeed in giving ourselves that time to recoup and regenerate.
Next year I will have my first student teacher from Boston University. I am excited to welcome here here at Burlington High School, but I am also looking forward to helping her thrive and not be the third year fed-up teacher statistic in her future.
I have accomplished so much these past three years and I am proud of these accomplishments; I should be proud of them. I often teach my students to take a step back after creating and appreciate what they've done; share the work and be proud! I love my students and my school, and I want to be happy here with them. I would have never dreamed that I would love my job so much; but I truly am in my dream job. I want to feel that way in ten years, so this summer is for you, Mr. Mistler.
Ms. Chang and I at the Feed Your Soul Teacher Fellowship, 2011
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
It's teacher appreciation week! Looking over Burlington Assistant Superintendent's (Mr. Patrick Larkin's) Blog, I was inspired to thank my own personal teachers who have changed my life. There are a few of them and I am so happy to have had them in my life!
Mrs. Bettez: My third grade teacher, Mrs. Bettez was truly an inspiration! She should have won teacher of the year. I learned my multiplication tables, we started a garden, I began my love for reading, and I remember always feeling extremely happy in her class. After graduating in 3rd grade, I came back in 4th grade to speak about the horrors of smoking (as an actor). I was a panel member named Raul who had smoked for over 30 years. Mrs. Bettez saw my love for acting and nourished it. I also remember how Mrs. Bettez really reached out and helped my friend, Nick, whom was in my class. Nick had hearing problems, and Mrs. Bettez wore a hearing aid. She did everything in her power to make accommodations for Nick and really made him feel like a part of the class. I remember Nick telling me how he was put in the remedial classes because he couldn't hear some of his previous teachers. Later he learned to read lips (which was very advantageous in high school!). Mrs. Bettez really changed his (and my) life. I recently saw her daughter who is about my age in the GAP about 5 years ago. She called her mother on the spot and I talked to Mrs. Bettez and told her how much her class had meant to me. It was really a wonderful moment.
Ms. Mary Dondero: Mary was my graphic design professor in my undergraduate career at Bridgewater State University. As a graphic design major Mary helped to push me and become a great artist and designer. I will always remember her quirky attitutude, her kindness, and her love for her students. Mary helped me through a difficult time in my life and she probably didn't even know how much of an impact she made because she was such a genuine woman. Thank you Mary.
Mr. Barry Shauck & Ms. Ruth Starrat: Barry and Ruth were my graduate school professors at Boston University. With their guidance and dedication to their students, they continue to train art teachers at the highest possible level. I learned how to push my artwork to the next level in order to get my students to do the same. They advocated for teachers as artists and vice versa. Their dedication to their craft truly inspires me. They even inspired me to take on a student teacher for next year! I want to pass on their wisdom.
Ms. Christina Chang & Mr. George Ratkevich: And finally, Christina and George were both my cooperating teachers at Burlington High School years ago. I can't thank them enough for all of the time and energy they both put in to helping me learn and become a quality art educator. I am so lucky to be able to continue working with them at BHS. Everyone here always says that we have such a great department and I agree! Our ties are helpful for us to advocate for art at BHS and for our students. I know that for years to come we will still be doing the same work!
I teach art at Burlington High School in Burlington, Massachusetts. My goals include teaching my students to live and thrive with 21st century learning skills while helping them to learn valuable creative artistic thinking and technical skill.