Jenny Kraft’s 5th grade classroom at Whittier International Elementary School - 2 hours

Melodee Strong Shadowing at Simpson Housing - 2 hours

Jenny Kraft’s 5th grade classroom at Whittier International Elementary School - 2 hours

To the confusion of the students, there was a sub in Ms. Kraft’s class on Tuesday. Everyone was bewildered by the presence of a new adult face in the classroom, as if they had never seen a substitute teacher before. Despite only knowing me for a handful of hours, the students looked to me for an explanation. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Ms.Kraft and one of her children were very ill. I told the students that Ms. Kraft just wasn’t here today, and they shook their heads in puzzlement. The audacity of the students to treat a substitute teacher like an intruder shocked me. The sub knowingly explained that students will always be unhappy when a new authority figure is introduced, and will always gravitate to the adult they have a firmer relationship with.

The classroom was a bit rowdy, and in my awkwardness I allowed two students to fool me into helping them with their assignment for the day. They both found it almost too boring to even try to complete without my entertainment. To be fair, I also found the assignment sheet rather dull. I focused on honing my skills in getting young people to do tasks they don’t want to do. I have learned that my multi-pen is a powerful tool of encouragement. I gave one student the pen on the condition she at least try to do the worksheets, and she did it! The other students was satisfied with having me explain in more detail confusing parts of the assignment, and occasionally getting me to do something silly.

On Thursday I joined Melodee Strong and fellow Teaching Artist Practicum student DJ Yang in the first part of a lesson at Simpson housing. Each student already has their own tutor, so I am effectively useless beyond my capacity to say tidbits of art technique and fetch supplies for people. There is something very luxurious about being in charge of supplies and not student behavior. I enjoy assisting greatly. Melodee Strong was a delight, and I’m excited to see the products of her residency. The Romare Bearden themed assignment is a great opportunity for students to make an art object completely different from a drawing or painting. I hope to get to know Melodee better in the next hours of my shadowing.

Friday at Whittier was a relaxing morning of drawing book covers. Half of the class had to take an assessment, so the remaining students were given time to draw book covers for their collected research about the Revolutionary War. It was a good opportunity to see the students drawing, and ask them about their interests. Over half the class is interested in sequential art, which is immensely exciting. I’m hoping to do some sort of art lesson with them guiding them through some of the fundamentals of comic making. They have an intense creativity and many make prolifically for the fun of the thing. Some students feel that they are of a category that just isn’t good at drawing, so I hope to change those minds.