Art Class 101

Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siquieros are the TRES GRANDES (the Big Three) of Mexican Muralism. Deeply political, they each combined their communist views and left-wing ideas with societal issues to create deeply moving, controversial, and thought-provoking works of art.

Those are the ideas that I'm trying to get across to my classroom of 15-year-olds. Today we began our mural project, which will take us through Spring Break. It starts with a lecture on what murals are, then discusses the TRES GRANDES of Mexican Muralism, and then allows the students the chance to create their own artwork. We did the lecture today and will finish it up tomorrow, and then the students will be in groups to create their own murals. In years past the mural themes have ranged from Mardi Gras to the Twin Towers to Environmental Issues. Of course, there will always be the groups that do nothing, but for the most part, the students enjoy the project. It gives them a chance to step outside of the classroom box of language learning and put their ideas on paper---(which, really, is part of the reason I like to blog--blogging lets people take all of the ideas in their heads, all of the thoughts, and gives people an outlet to channel them).

As the groups channel their ideas, I'll try to post some pictures of previous murals. I think you'll be suprised by some of these 15-year-olds' creativity and artistic depth.

If you're interested, here's a link to some reprints of Rivera's work. (One of my personal favorites is La Molendera).

I'm definitely not too into art, and I even appreciate these works! :-) I enjoy murals because I love learning the stores behind them--what the pieces are representing, what issues the artist is discussing or even flaming.

And, if you want to read about a controversial work, check out this link to Siquieros' Tropical America, which attacks America's imperialism and the oppression he believed it to cause.

So, we'll see how the students do. If I can get them to think a little bit larger, a little bit beyond the walls of my classroom, then I think this time & energy-consuming project will be worth it.

I Needed A Starbucks for This...

College didn’t come close to preparing me for this. It was only 9 minutes into my 3rd period class today when the student decided to test her teacher’s Monday-morning-didn’t-have-time-to-stop-for-a-Starbucks-today mental acuity.

My 3rd period is, generally, one of those classes that a teacher can teach on auto-pilot. The 24 students are slightly brighter, on average—they come to class with their materials, they don’t complain, and-this is the best-they even (sometimes) laugh at their teacher’s jokes! They’re all friends with each other, and aren’t afraid to just have fun with me, which makes it an overall terrific class to teach—kind of a breath of fresh air amidst my morning hecticness. We laugh a lot, talk a lot, and even get some Spanish learned in the process.

So, that’s why today’s eruption caught me unexpectedly. We were just starting to work on our vocabulary (which, I must admit, even makes me inwardly groan—I have never in my life needed to say “I need to check my radiator” in Spanish!) – and a girl from the back of the class gets out of her seat. (Now, you have to understand that “Miss Walker” can NOT handle students getting out of their seats---this one of the ONLY rules that I enforce strictly). So, as a student is asking a question, I quietly motion for the girl to sit back down and quietly tell her to ask permission. Somewhere in that one sentence, something went wrong.

The girl STOMPED out of my classroom, making the heels on her designer boots smack against my floor, stopped briefly at the doorway, threw her hair over her shoulder and proclaimed that she was going to leave, because no one ever does any listening to her anyway!

The class was stunned. It was one of those moments where in everyone’s head we were all thinking “what is THAT about?” I had zero clue what her deal was. She hadn’t asked to go anywhere or do anything—it was only 9 minutes into class! I would have liked to pause my classroom and take that snapshot back 4 years to my theoretical education class that discussed what educational philosophy camp we landed in and asked that prof what would have been the best philosophy to handle THIS student!

So, the girl left, and even the other students in the class asked what in the world that was all about. We continued on, I later emailed the principal about the girl and let him decide what do, and the rest of my day, well, pretty uneventful.

However, tomorrow, it’s definitely a Starbucks morning.

We've all been there. It's 10 minutes before the bell is going to ring, you're exhausted, and you have a classroom of 30+ students that will be almost literally bouncing off the walls if you don't have something ready.

Some call us educators. Some call us teachers. On certain days you could call our job crowd control. Whatever the title, entrusted to us are 130+ students that daily arrive in our classrooms. And, whether we're ready or not, they're expecting some sort of learning.

This is dedicated to you, my fellow eductors. Here I'll post my tricks, tips, and goofs for your reading pleasure

So, take a moment, put those green grading pens aside, and read. Browse. Enjoy. And hopefully you'll be a better teacher because of it.