Showing posts with label art class management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art class management. Show all posts

Monday, September 4, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 4

Are y'all listening to my podcast Everyday Art Room? I am loving sharing with you! Any excuse to talk at length about art teacherin' is a good time, says me. If you are listening, thank you! You can find it on iTunes or right here. New episodes drop every Thursday...which I failed to mention to y'all on Thursday. Oops, my bad.

By the way, in case you didn't know, I host a Facebook LIVE every Wednesday at 8pm'll need to like/follow me here to stay tuned. We have a great community of (mostly) art teachers that join our chat (nearly 200 every week!). We share our art room happenings, seek advice, offer kind words and join forces to make art teacherin' so much better, easier and funner. YES, that's a word. If you've not joined the fun, please do. If you are more of an IG person, I go live there as well. Frightening, I know. 

Without further ado, here's the transcript from Everyday Art Room, Episode 4!
I’m curious to know if you’ve had one yet. I have had several and each one has been more terrifying than the last. They cause me to wake up with night sweats and I’m deathly afraid to try to fall back asleep for fear I have another one. Can you guess what I’m talking about? The back to school nightmare. Is this something that all of us experience? Please tell me I am not alone. My hands are actually sweating just talking to you about my back to school nightmares. They look almost exactly the same every single time. If they made a horror movie based on my back to school nightmare, it would probably outdo Saw as far as scariness goes. In fact, that’s pretty much where it looks like my nightmare plays out. Imagine this, yes, I’m going to talk to you about my dreams.
Let’s hold hands and soul gaze, shall we? It goes a little like this. I’m in what looks like an abandoned auditorium with about 40 to 50, maybe 60 kids. I don’t know where the teachers are. It also appears there’s no heat and maybe a flickering of the lights. You know, true horror movie style. I’m standing there and I cannot get their attention, their focus or their respect to save my life. It usually is me saying, “Hey, guys. Hey, guys. Hey, guys,” getting progressively louder and more anxious without a single child even putting their eyes my way. It’s usually about that time when the zombie administrator starts to lurk in, getting ready to do their observations of course. Not just any observation, but the one that’s going to set the tone for the rest of your art teaching life.
It’s usually then that I wake up from the nightmare. I know. It only happens at that certain time of year, late July, early August when I’ve got teaching on the brain. I think you guys can all relate to my back to school nightmare. This is Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens. What is the one thing that we all have in that back to school nightmare or I should say what is the one thing we don’t have in those back to school nightmares? Classroom management. Every time I have one of those nightmares it’s always because I have zero control and classroom management. I think that kind of nightmare speaks volumes because without classroom management and without control, you cannot teach. You most definitely cannot enjoy teaching.
Even though it might appear as though you’re out of control, students are having the very best time of their lives, they’re not. They’re getting gipped out of a quality art education. Today we are going to address classroom management. Now in the last couple of episodes we’ve chatted about routines and rules and consequences. You’ve heard me say over and over again that you need to think about the three S’s, your set up, your situation, and your students before you start thinking about your approach to teaching art in your art room. I’m going to throw another S your way and I feel like this S is super important, self.
You need to think before establishing anything in your room about yourself and what your new established routines, rules and consequences will look like coming from you. For example, I think it’s important to know yourself. I know myself well enough as a teacher after almost 20 years of teaching art to know that I am not consistent. That is something that I struggle with in my everyday life, but especially in my art room. I also know that being consistent is vital in an art room and it’s something that your students need and crave.
Knowing that I’m not consistent means that when I’m establishing routines, rules, consequences and my classroom management plan, I can’t have a lot of things happening, meaning I can’t designate certain jobs to certain students or certain tables because I know that I’m not consistent enough to stick with that and to continuously remind students to do those jobs. I think that whenever you are listening to another art teacher speak like me or you visit another teacher or art teacher’s room, you might see some fabulous things happening, but also take it with that S grain of salt of self, will this work for you? Yourself? That being said, let’s talk about classroom management and today I thought I would share with you my three C’s of classroom management.
These three C’s are important no matter what your set up, your situation, your students and yourself. Here it goes. Calm, consistent and chaos free. Those are my three C’s of classroom management. Let’s talk about those three C’s. Let’s start off with calm because that is something that sometimes I struggle with. When you consume as much coffee as I do, calm is not something that comes easily, but it’s very important to your classroom management. We were talking in the last podcast about when you’re delivering your consequences to always do so in a consistent way, meaning using the same verbiage, and in a calm voice. Never raising your voice, never let your irritation at a behavior show is vital to having your students respond positively to you.
Now I know what you’re thinking. We want art class to be fun and exciting and joyous. Calm sometimes gets a bad rap for being the opposite of that. Take it from me. I can be pretty silly and pretty animated, but it surprises folks I think sometimes when they come to visit my art room, they’ll pull me aside and say, “You’re so calm.” It’s really amazing considering the amount of coffee that I take in, but here’s the reason why. Your students when they’re sitting in front of you or creating with you, imagine them being like little mirrors. They’re reflecting you. They’re reflecting your behavior. If you’re silly, they’re silly, which is great if they’re a good group of students that understand when to turn the silly off, which as you know is a little bit sometimes of a struggle.
If you’re calm and consistent, you might find that your students are the same. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Not always, Cassie. I mean sometimes my students come to my art room and they are a wild bunch.” Oh you all, trust me. Mine too. My students come to me from PE where they’ve just had a lot of fun and great activity. Sometimes no matter how calm I am, my little mirrors are broken and I need to fix them. There are some ways that you can bring a lot of calmness and soothing to your students, which will make your classroom management a lot easier and a lot more smooth for you to teach. Let me share my favorite one. This is called palming.
Imagine you have your students seated with you in your room whether that be at their tables or if you’re like me, they come in and they sit on the floor. If I notice that my little mirrors are not being as calm as I’m trying to be, then I know that I need to bring them to an activity called palming. Why don’t you do it with me right now and I’ll help you walk through palming. Take both of your hands and put them thumbs together so that the palms of your hands are facing away from you. Now, and I’m doing this with my students as well, what I’m describing to you is exactly how I would say this to my students. Now bring both of your hands together slowly and calmly as if you are clapping, but do not clap. Now slowly start to rub your hands up and down.
They should start to feel a little bit warm because of friction. When I say two, rub your hands together just a little bit faster so that that friction creates more heat. When I say three, stop rubbing your hands together and place the palms of your hands that are now nice and warm over your eyes and keep them there until you hear me say three again. Three. It’s at this point where your students are sitting with our little warm hands on their eyes. While they’re sitting this way, I deliver my message to them. I say to them the behavior that I’m going to expect when they take their hands off their eyes, what we’re going to be talking about when they take their hands off their eyes and how I want them to take their hands off their eyes.
I simply say, “When I say three, please put your hands calmly in your lap. Three.” When my students are finished calming, there is a huge difference in their behavior. It’s like they just finished meditating. They’re a lot more calm and it’s a lot easier for you to progress with your lesson. Another thing you can try instead of calming, which would be the opposite. Sometimes I’ve noticed that if my students are really a ball of energy, it’s difficult to do palming with them. They’re a little bit too hyped up. For that reason, well, sometimes I say, “You just got to ride that wave.” I’ll have them walk in and we’ll do a little controlled dance activity shall we say. I have them repeat after me. I always have my students repeat after me.
My signal to them when I want them to repeat after me is me to simply clear my throat like this, ahem. They all do the same and then they also know that anything I say or do as far as what action I do they will do the same. It’s at that point that I will say, “Let’s dance,” and they all say, “Let’s dance,” and I’ll show them a short movement of my body like let’s do the twist and I do the twist and they’ll follow suit. We do this for maybe two minutes where I’m doing just silly little dance moves or hand jives or anything I can think of just to help them get the giggles and the wiggles out. When we do the last one, we sit down. It’s usually at that point that they’re pretty calm.
They’ve worked those wiggles out, but if you noticed that they haven’t and they’re still a little giggly and wiggly, then you might want to try palming, but all that to say keeping your room calm will really help with your classroom management. I have noticed that if I start out on a calm note at the beginning of the school year and even at the beginning of the class period, I can still switch to silly, but I can bring it back down to calm a lot easier if that kind of tone has been established during the first few weeks and months of the school year. Now the second thing we talked about which I admitted I’m pretty miserable at is consistency.
Consistency is definitely not my strong suit, but it is vital to teaching and knowing that I keep such things as class jobs and rewards systems super duper simple. I cannot stick with sticker charts or having designated seats, be for designated jobs. That’s just not my bag, especially when I have 30-minute art classes. Those kind of things are very difficult for me to be consistent with. However, consistency is extremely vital and I build it into my routines. In the very first podcast, I chatted with you about my eight routines that I establish at the beginning of the school year. I am very consistent with those routines and my students know that. Being calm and consistent is extremely important with your classroom management.
What those two things will do is they will keep your art work chaos free. Now I know sometimes when I hear myself say these things, I sound like I’m sucking all of the fun and life out of my art room, but the flip side of that which I have lived is a cluttery and disastrous mess of an art room. I have noticed that if I’m not consistent and I’m not calm, then my room erupts into chaos and nobody enjoys that. It’s difficult to reign your room back in and make it a fun joyous creative space when there’s clutter everywhere. When there’s clutter everywhere, suddenly the students start appreciating and taking care of the art room and the art supplies.
Keeping your art room chaos free by being consistent and calm is very important to creating that wonderful environment where your students can really flourish and explore. It’s a struggle. I’m not going to lie. Like I said, I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I still have those nightmares that are all based on classroom management. The good and the bad thing about teaching is that you’re always learning. It’s the good because it keeps us constantly growing and engaged in bettering ourselves. The bad is that it feels like we are always learning and always growing and we’re never going to get to that point where we are the master teacher and that’s okay. Think of your art teaching as creating a work of art.
A masterpiece is never finished and trust me, my art room is far from a masterpiece, but with calmness, consistency, hopefully I can keep it chaos free and create a fun environment for my student’s art education.
Tim Bogatz: Hello. This is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. Thank you for tuning in to the podcast. We appreciate everyone that has listened, left positive comments and left reviews on iTunes. All of those things help us build momentum and build an audience for this great show. Also, check out the podcast on and get signed up for the Everyday Art Room weekly mailing list. Last week I talked to you about Art Ed PRO, the subscription service that provides on demand professional development for art teachers. You can check it out at the However, I want to tell you that a lot of administrators are supporting the service and a lot of schools have funds to pay for your professional development.
Just ask. You can send your administrator to where they can click on a PRO for Schools to see if it’ll work for your school. It doesn’t hurt to try and who doesn’t want to have control of their own PD? That’s your job in the next week. Make sure your admin checks out Pro for Schools at Before you do that, let’s go ahead and finish the rest of the show.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This first question is one I actually get quite a bit. It goes like it is, “Cassie, you make a lot of videos that you share with your students. How do you make your videos? What programs do you use?” I get this question quite a bit. In fact, on my YouTube channel, I even created a video on how to make videos that you can still find, but let me see if I can break it down for you. First of all, I think the misconception is that you need to immediately go out and buy expensive equipment. I’m here to tell you that the phone you have will work just fine to create video lessons for your students. All you have to do, especially if it’s an iPhone, is put the iMovie app on your phone.
If you have an Android phone, I do not have, you’ll have to look into what free app you could put on your phone. Trust me. They’re out there. Put that app on your phone and just film short clips of yourself demonstrating whatever lesson you’re teaching to your students. In iMovie, it’s very easy to edit those clips. I would recommend if you’re really interested to just watch a couple of YouTube videos that will simply show you how to make an iMovie for your students. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be something that will be engaging for your students and easy for them to see and hear. Trust me. Once you’ve done one, you’ll be excited to do more. Your students will absolutely love what a lot of people refer to flipped or filmed lesson.
Here’s another question, “Cassie, I noticed that you wear high heels a lot. How are you able to teach in those all day?” Oh boy. I don’t wear high heels anymore because I got some common sense up in my head. Who wears heels when teaching? I used to and my feet were never happy with me. To be honest, I now wear a lot of Chucks or Converse because they’re flat and I feel like I can actually move a lot more in my art room. I always keep a pair of back up shoes in my room, a pair of little comfy shoes, just in case I am crazy one day and decide to bust out the heels. I know I’ve got my backup shoes on hand. I know that seems so silly, but you know shoes are vital to teaching.
Finding a pair that are going to be comfortable is really important to your lifelong health, not just your day to day. I would say definitely go for comfort and not fashion unlike me. If you have a question for me, please feel free to send it my way. You can email it to I have had so much fun chatting with you guys today about classroom management. Here’s hoping we get a little bit more of a handle on classroom management, so we in the very least stop having those horrible back to school nightmares.
We chatted about the three C’s that I think are vital to classroom management, calm, which I know you’re probably surprised to hear that from me since I’m not usually very calm, but I do try especially at the beginning of the year to be that calmness in the art room. Consistency, which I admitted I’m not super great at. Think really hard about what works for you. Knowing that consistency is not my strong suit, I know there are certain routines that other art teachers have success with that I would not and that’s okay. The last one is chaos free.
It’s important to keep your art room clutter free and therefore chaos free and create a beautiful, calm and consistent environment for your students to really flourish as these creative little beings that they are and not turn into the crazy creepy zombie land nightmare that you might have during those summer months. It’s been awesome chatting with you guys. This is Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In the Art Room: Trying Something New

The Art Room Foyer...that's right, my room is so big it has it's own entryway. I'm totes spoiled, ya'll. You can learn more about the Smartest Artist Game (seen on the right) here and read about our day-to-day attempts at routines and procedures here.
You ever find yourself watching those amazingly terrible infomercials where you're all, "who would buy that?!" only to get sucked in a little further to discover that the 'mercial is speaking directly to you and that product they're pitching could quite possibly solve all of your life's problems? For example, how about the Better Marriage Blanket which, with it's activated-carbon fabric, a material "used by the military to protect against chemical weapons", can put an end to the silent and deadly problems which reek, er, wreak havoc in otherwise happy marriages? Or what about the Rejuvenique Electrical Facial Mask, which closely resembles Jason's Friday the 13th hockey get-up, but packs a nine-volt battery electrical shock punch to those pesky wrinkles. I just know in my heart of hearts that with 5 easy payments of $39.99, my life would be perfection, right?

Such is kinda the story of my life in the art room. I see a problem, I dream up some incredibly perfect way to fix it either turns out shockingly bad (like my facial mask) or super stinky (shoulda went for the blanket). However, in this here post, I wanted to spare you the stink and share with you the (so-far) successes. So here's a list of some new things I'm trying and enjoying in the art room this year. Enjoy and puh-lease let me know what new things you are giving a go this school year. Shake Weight Paint Brush, perhaps...?

I Can Statements. In my neck of the woods, my students are to be told several times just what it is they are learning and what it is they'll be accomplishing. I'm also supposed to tie that in to the state standards and put it in kid friendly terms. So just to the left of the bulletin board seen in the top photo is this miniature dry erase display of their current I Can's along with the permanent standards. When the children enter my room, they walk along a line I have taped to the floor. When the first student has reached the end of the tape and all have entered the art room, I have the students repeat their daily I Can's after me. This helps us all to focus and puts an end to the question, "What are we doing today?!"
Time Timer. I have Art Teachers Hate Glitter to thank for this. She made mention of using this in her art room and I was excited to try it out. With 30 minutes for art making, I am always watching the clock and I am also always losing track of time. More often than I'd like to admit, one class is cleaning up while I have another class walking in (at which point we play the "Let's Watch the Other Class Clean Up and See How Well They Do" Game...which is a totally boring game and Milton Bradley ain't going to be making a version anytime soon).
My students love this thing. In fact, when they walk in and take a seat on the floor, if one of them notices I've not set the time, they'll ask to do it for me. As time moves on, the red pie gets smaller and finally ends with a loud beep of the alarm. This has become our signal to clean up. What I love about this is that the children have become more aware of time management. You can find the Time Timer here.
See, Think, Wonder. After repeating our I Can statements at the door, I'll often pick a student to "be the teacher." This student will sit in my chair and discuss a work of art I have on my easel. The work of art will often be created by our Artist of the Month. The "teacher" is to ask the children "What do you See?" (note the camera icon) and they are to respond like they would with me, by raising their hand. After speaking with a couple of children the teacher can then move on to "What do you Think?"  (lightbulb) and "What do you Wonder?" (question mark). This game is great because it buys me a little time to get supplies out on tables and it allows me to pre assess students knowledge, thoughts and questions about a work of art.
Also on my board I have my I Can statements posted again for their viewing pleasure. By the way, the display on the right was created with the children's messy mats and a poster from Target.
Good Music. My husband and I love going to theme parks because they are magical. And I want my art room to be a magical place in the school. With all that often goes on in a half an hour, it's hard to stop and make a magical moment happen for the children. So good music helps. This amazing CD has been on constant rotation in the art room. It's calming, quiet, recognizable and, well, magical. Next on my music wishlist is the Star Wars soundtrack.
Choose Your Own Adventure. Did you all read Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were kids? I loved them. If you are not familiar, you read a short chapter and at the conclusion, you can decide, as in the case of this book, if you A. Want to invade a monastery, B. Go on a Viking raid or C. Fight in a Viking battle. From there, the book takes you on a wonderful adventure of your choosing. I've been reading this to my fourth grade students (I've deemed it inappropriate for those younger due to Viking violence) and it has sparked so much creativity with their Viking drawings. As a class, we vote on the adventures we go on. Even in my short 30 minutes, I can manage to read a couple of adventures. There is an enormous library of these books on amazon. In fact, just today I purchased Ninja and Samurai adventure tales. The kids are thrilled.
Snap Snap WOOOSH. I suck at clean up procedures. There. I said it. Mostly cuz we're running late. However, with the Time Timer keeping track, we are getting better. Our new procedure is that when you hear the alarm, you clean. Once your table is clean with everything put in it's correct spot (having a mini trash can on the table as seen on the right in the photo above really helps) and all of the students are standing behind their pushed in chair, they count down at their table and collectively snap their fingers and give me the "Snap! Snap! WHOOSH!" with a wave motion of their arms. They are to only do this once (otherwise they will do it repeatedly and drive me nutz) at which point I'll check their table for neatness. If they are good, I send them to line up. If not, they are asked to continue cleaning and give me the signal again when they are ready. So's working out pretty well.

Art Class Homework. They asked for it, I swear! In fact, they can get pretty grumpy when I don't have anything for them. So once a week, I'm making art homework available for the taking. My plan is to tie it in with our artist of the month and see just what they come up with. Once the art work is returned to me, we look at it and recognize those young artists at the beginning of class. I'm plotting a way to display these hard workers efforts and I'll share it with you soon.
Personally, I think an Ice Cream Dress is a FANTASTIC idea...and has given me lots of food for to speak.

And there you have it! Okay, you're turn...what are you doing in your art room that works? And if I Act Now! can I please get it for just 3 easy payments of $19.99...? Because that'd be better than a Better Marriage Blanket, ya'll! 

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the Art Room: A Day in the Life

Entering the Art Room: I have a long strip of blue tape on the floor near my doorway. I'll usually greet the students at the door with a "Please stop at the end of the blue line". While there, I chat with the kids for just a moment about what we'll be up to today. On this day there was a lot of, "why are you taking pictures of our feet?!" Duh, foot fetish.
As an art teacher, I am always super curious how other art teachers run their classroom. I want to know all about their routines, procedures, how they get the kids to clean up because Lordie knows I struggle with that. So I thought I'd share with you a glimpse into just how a 1/2 hour art class looks in my room. I'm hoping this will inspire other art teacher bloggers to share a similar story. I'd love to bring some fresh ideas into my world. 

So, let me tell you what you are about to see: I attempted to snap some photos at each phase in my art class. Because my time with the kids zips by at the speed of light, I wasn't able to capture just one class. This is a montage of a second, kindergarten and third grade class. Each has a fairly similar routine so I think you'll get the idea.
The Art Supply Store: Aka "the store". At the store I lay out all of the supplies that the entering class might need. Because I see between 8-9 different classes in a day, I usually have to change out the supplies right before each class enters. That blue line I mentioned before dead ends at the store. This way, I can tell the kids what they need to grab and they can collect it as they enter the room. Side Note: I try to keep all supplies needed throughout the art class at The Store. This way, whenever the kids need anything, they know they can find it there.
Going Shopping: This is what we call our supply gathering routine. On this day the kids were beginning a self-portrait painting lesson. Once at their seats, they drop off their supplies, write their name and teacher codes in pencil on the paper. As soon as that's complete, they join me on the floor. This takes about 5-7 minutes.

Meet Me on the Floor: On some occasions, no supplies are immediately needed. That's when I'll ask the kids to bypass the store and make a first and second row on the floor.  About this Mess: I know what you're thinking, "What a mess of stuff!" You call it messy, I called it organized chaos. Each of those boxes on the left is a different class, labeled and ready for me to pass back. My demonstration supplies for each class are resting on top of the boxes.
Demonstration Time: This is a group of kindergarteners about to embark on paper weaving. I have found that when teaching weaving a giant loom really helps if they're paying attention (yeah, I'm talkin' to you, Striped Shirt). After I have given a demonstration, I run through all of the directions again using call and response. Not sure what I mean? In my room, it goes like this: I'll clear my throat and that's the signal that anything I'm about to say, the kids are to repeat. It almost sounds like a little ditty with lots of hand gestures and voice inflections. I have found that this really helps the kids remember the directions they are to follow.
Working on the Floor: This doesn't happen very often unless it's an activity where I'll need to check on a lot of children at once. So with this kindergarten weaving project, we changed our two seated rows on the floor into one giant circle. While in this circle formation, the kids wove and I could walk around the outside of the circle and help those that needed it.
Peer Tutoring: Oh how I love peer tutoring. The kids love to help each other and are often better at explaining the concepts to their friends than I am! It amazes me. In this weaving situation, I had the students who successfully completed their weavings help their friends who were struggling. The key is that they are to help not do it for them. That's sometimes a concept they don't quite grasp.

Creating: Most of the time, the kids work at their assigned seats. Each of my tables seats four students and each table is assigned a color. On each table in one of the four corners is a star that coordinates with the color of the table and has a number on it, one thru four. During art class, we have "art jobs". You can kind of see a list of these written on the board in the demo photo. Sorry, should have taken a better photo. My jobs include: Art Room Sheriff and Deputy (in charge of keeping order and quiet voices); Table Caller (calling the best tables to line up first); Hosts of the Smartest Artist (the wrap-up game we attempt to play most days); and, everyone's favorite: The Clean Up Band...
The Clean Up Gong: If this doesn't motivate you to clean up your act, I mean art, nothing will. Hubs bought me this gong for our 10th wedding anniversary (yes, you read that correctly). The kids absolutely love it. Funny story:  I was running late (as usual) and so we were scrambling to clean up. My Clean Up Gong'er for the day was OTL (out-to-lunch) and forgot to do his job. So as the teacher walked in to collect her students, one little girl yelled at the Gong'er, "Hit the bong! It's time to hit the bong!" Yeah, I had a little bit of 'splainin'  to do that day.
Clean Up Drums: I don't play drums nor do I know how. I do know how to play a "fill" and that's what I taught the kids at the beginning of the year. So, when it's their turn to play the drums, they play that little beat. As you can tell, they kinda love it.
The Clean Up Chime: Crazy, right? But it's funny, the kids have this down. They'll usually play in this order: drums, gong, chime. They will all get in their places, look at me and when I say, "Hit it!" they have at it. Then I'll usually play "Celebrate" by Kool and the Gang. With all this racket, clean up time can be a little busy. Especially since we are usually down to the wire on time. Once the students have cleaned up, they are to stand behind their pushed-in chair. Then they wait for the Table Caller to tell them to line up.

Lining Up: This is the doorway which the students entered the art room. It's also the exit. What's not shown in this photo is that blue line of tape on the floor. You can read more about The Masterpiece Gallery here.
The Smartest Artist: So The Smartest Artist is this wrap up game we play at the end of class (if time allows). There's the host and hostess on the right with their microphones looking at the contestants standing on that blue line. In the foreground is our score keeper. You can read more about The Smartest Artist here.
At the End of the Day: I love my job. I don't love the clean up. Been trying to convince the book keeper that some of my art supply funds should go toward a housekeeper.

So there you have it, a peak into a half an hour of artsy'ness. I look forward to hearing what it is you do in your room that works like a charm. Because if it's one thing I've never been called, it's charming. Thanks for dropping by!
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