Teacher Appreciation

As an itinerant art teacher, my "classroom" is where ever there are tables and chairs available.
As an itinerant art teacher, my “classroom” is where ever there are tables and chairs available.

This is the week students (and former students) show appreciation toward their teachers. It never occurred to me what a challenge being a professional educator was. All I saw was what happened in the classroom. Not the Sunday afternoons of catching up on grading and planning. Not dealing with the difficult student who irritated everyone, both teacher and classmates (and probably parents, not that they would admit it!). Not the frustration of teaching students who did not work to their full potential (me). So when I see former teachers and professors, I tell them that I now realize what a privilege it was to have been their student. I have also been able to tell several of them how much I learned from their lessons and how I am passing it on to my students. I think they appreciate the acknowledgements.
One of the reasons I became an art teacher was to have the opportunity to make art without having to worry about selling it to make a living. This has worked pretty well for me. Nearly every day allows me a chance to draw or paint with my students without worrying about the laundry, what’s for dinner, or other daily routines that steal time and life out of me. Student artists do not realize how lucky they are to have a specific block of time reserved for the to draw, paint, or create something from nothing. “Enjoy it now,” I tell them, “because it won’t be long before reality will hit you hard with more obligations than you can ever imagine.” Except I don’t say it like that.

Playtime! As the students used oil pastel to make a fauvist style landscape, I played along with them.
Playtime! As the students used oil pastel to make a fauvist style landscape, I played along with them.

I am thankful for my daily playtime in the classroom. I hope those who will become my “former students” will remember the good things they accomplished in my class. Or at least that they received some good advice, like “Enjoy it now, because reality is coming and will hit you like a truckload of bricks!” Except I don’t say it like that.

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