Michele Platis, NMAEA President
It's May. May,11th to be exact. There are ten more days of school for me; maybe you have less or maybe more. No matter the number of days you have, the end is near. Summer will be here soon. Then, before we know it, we will blink, and it will be August and a new school year. For now, we are in May. I find May is an excellent time for reflection. In the busyness of the end of the year, my brain naturally begins to reflect on this past school year as well as start planning for the new school year.
Reflection is a good practice for all teachers. Search the internet, and you can find numerous articles and research related to teacher reflection. Reflection is a natural extension of being a good teacher. I also believe reflection is a natural extension of being an artist. So as art teachers, my guess is, we are all spending some time reviewing the year and considering the possibilities for the new year.
I don't know if the following is to validate my crazy brain or maybe to help validate someone else out there, but here is what a moment of reflection (or rambling) sounds like in my head: Where is my notebook? Did I meet my goals? I changed my entire curriculum this year. I felt like a first-year teacher for most of the year. Maybe I should have made only a few changes. I had a lot going on this year. Oh well, it's done. I do need to tweak some lessons. What can I do to make my curriculum better? My To-Do list for wrapping up the year is so long. I'm tired. Can I get it all done? My classroom is a hot mess. What artwork still needs to be photographed? I need to finish sorting some work out from the art show. I'm tired. I need to make notes on my curriculum maps changes for next year. I need a new sketchbook or notebook for next year. Is this the right place for me now? Do I need to move on? Applying for jobs is time-consuming. I need a full nights sleep. I need to start my to-do list for next year. I need an attitude adjustment. Should I take an art class this summer? I need to put red oil pastels on my supply list for next year. I need to make my summer appointments. Breathe.
Does the voice in your head sound similar? Oh, please say yes.
As I think about what changes I need to make to be a better teacher, artist, leader, wife, mom, friend, I realize I need to be taking better care of me. I am passionate about art education. I love being an art teacher. I genuinely believe that I have the best job in the world. I believe in NMAEA's mission. The need for art education advocacy is needed, and I want to lend my voice. But, I cannot be effective if I do not take care of me. I need to learn how to say no, how to ask for help and find more time to create. I imagine I am not the only one out there that feels this way.
This year, I said no to summer school. That's a start. I took last weekend and focused entirely on setting up an office and studio space. A task that has been put off since moving in our home a year and a half ago. I think I will take an art class. I will still dedicate a couple of hours a week to plan for next year, but I will schedule more time for creating.
I'm looking forward to this summer.
I hope you too are looking forward to this summer. I hope you take time to reflect not only on your school year and upcoming year but also your personal needs. Teaching is hard, and we know it is not for the weak. Art teachers often have unique challenges that regular education teachers do not face, but as an art teacher, you inspire children every day. You help students develop their voice, strengthen critical thinking skills, problem solve and become creators. To do our jobs to the best of our abilities, we need to be healthy - body, mind and soul. This summer I encourage you to take care of yourself!