Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer Slow Down: Which is better elementary or middle school?

I get asked this question a lot, whenever I explain that I originally began my teaching career in elementary art and only transitioned to middle school in the last few years.

Which do you like teaching better? Elementary level or Middle School level?
In my own opinion this isn't a fair question. To me its like comparing apples to oranges. I will however give you my likes and dislikes of both.

Elementary School Art

The good stuff:

1. The kids are so SWEET. Teaching art in elementary school makes me feel like a celebrity. When I see students in the hallways its all waves and smiles and little kids screaming my name! Even students that had a few behavior issues were adorable!

2. Seeing the kids GROW. I taught 5 years in elementary which means my very first class of Kindergartners completed the 4th grade when I left. Seeing them go from identifying the primary colors to creating more complicated artworks was truly the best part of my time there.

3. Parent PARTICIPATION. Every time Open House came around my art room was completely filled to the brim with families coming to see their students artwork. Seeing parents proud of their students was always a great feeling.

I could live without:

1. Seeing the kids only ONCE A WEEK. With 700+ students and six different grade levels (k-5) I would only each class once a week, which made long term projects hard to complete. And don't get me started on Monday holidays, this meant that instead of seeing students 36 times a year, I'd see them sometimes 7 times less depending on how many holidays we had. Or field trips. So much missing time!

2. ACCIDENTS in the art room. Do I need to explain?

3. Being constantly asked to "BORROW" supplies. I have a small budget, nothing extra. Please don't ask.

Middle School Art

The good stuff:

1. The students CHOOSE to be in art (most of the time). I don't teach an entire school of 700+ students. The majority of my students have a genuine desire to be in the class and learn something about art and I get to see them everyday instead of once a week.

2. The skill level is HIGHER. I see a lot more developed talent in middle school than elementary, which is to be expected.

3. I get to teach CONCEPTS. Middle school students can understand ideas behind their art and specifically use that to create art from ideas.

I could live without:

1. The DRAMA and ATTITUDE. I can't tell you how many times that I pull students into the hallway, and act as a relationship counselor instead of an art teacher. Or the students that are blatantly disrespectful just to seem cool to their friends.

2. I typically get loaded with EXTRA students. It's no ones fault really, our school tends to be over crowded and we have few elective choices...and most students that aren't already in a musical course can't jump in mid year.

3. Students who say "IT'S JUST ART." This has happened numerous times. The students who have had me before KNOW this is the biggest pet peeve in my class and I will sit and lecture for 20 or more minutes if this comes out of someones mouth. In fact if someone says this the other kids turn in shock with their eyes wide and look at me.

What grade level do you teach? Pros and Cons? What is your preference? 

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