Showing posts with label art teacher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art teacher. Show all posts

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Biggest Secret about being an Artist and an Art Teacher

This photo was taken my very first year teaching, in a portable, some 20 years ago. It was field day and my room was being used for the face painting station. I was 23, clueless and completely freaked out about teaching art. I'd moved 6 hours from my home in Indiana to Nashville, Tennessee without knowing a soul or having any idea what in the world I was doing. I wanted to share my journey with you in this podcast episode. I'm not going to go into too much detail here as I want you to take a listen. Think of this blog post as the visual for that episode. What I have to share took me 10 years to figure out...and changed my art teacherin' and art makin' life FOREVER.
If you like to take a listen, here you go:
I attended middle and high school in a rural school in Indiana. If you are from Indiana, I attended Northfield High School, just outside Wabash. My graduating class had something like 70 kids. It was super small and, I would NEVER have admitted it at the time, I loved that it was small. 
I was the big, weird, sassy, annoying, artsy, drama kid back in the early 90's. There weren't too many of us weirdos at the school as many kids wanted to fit in. It's human nature. I wanted to fit in too until I realized I just never was gonna. And then I started to embrace that weirdo. As seen here. 
I had the lead role in most of our small productions. I was on the speech team and traveled every Saturday to schools across Indiana reading prose, reading comedy, doing dramatic pieces. It was fun. I found my people. We were all just a buncha kids who didn't fit in but had each other. 
I was pretty confident, for the most part. I didn't mind being me.
Until I went to college. College was very hard for me, especially my freshman year. I attended Indiana University which had a student body of 30,000. Suddenly, in my mind, every kid was more creative, better at acting and public speaking and more unique than I was. I clammed up. I stopped talking to people. I began to hate myself. When was I going to be as cool and confident as I perceived the people around me to be?
And then I took an oil painting class the summer of my sophomore year. I literally fell in love. I made big messy paintings full of stories. I don't think I ever finished a single painting! But I loved making them. Suddenly I found something I felt I was good at. I had a purpose...and confidence. Again. 
While I was in the BFA painting program, I was also pursuing my art education degree. And that's where I noticed something strange.
When my painting professors found out I was also getting an ed degree, they stopped taking me seriously...after all, I was not focusing solely on my art so why should they? And my art ed professors? Well, let's just say one of them, after coming to my art showing, said I should stick to painting. She was tired of grading my lame lesson plans. 

The read-between-the-lines I was getting was that I had to pick a side. I had to choose a team. I had to figure out if I wanted to be an Artist or an Art Teacher...because, according to their message, I could NOT be both. 
In August of 1998, I took a job 6 hours from my home in Nashville, Tennessee. I became the K-2nd art teacher at Hickman Elementary. 
I had a portable classroom that was under the flight path of the Nashville International Airport. I literally had to stop talking and hang on to something every 15 minutes as planes flew overhead. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so scared of messing up. The art education of these kids depended on me and I was CLUELESS. I decided to devote all of my time and energy learning everything I could about being an art teacher. 
It was then that I decided to join Team Art Teacher. 
And I spent every moment of the next seven years reading every book, taking every class, decorating my art room, making lesson plans, doing camps...you name it. If it involved teaching art, I was all in. I was gonna be the captain of the flippin' art teacherin' team. 
And I was miserable. 
You know what a miserable person is as an art teacher? A miserable art teacher. I had neglected creating art. I had gotten so far away from my art making side and allowed myself to only focus on teaching. The face in this photo, taken when I first came to my current school about 15 years ago, says it all:
Tired. Bored. Uninspired. Uninspiring. 

I knew I had to change something. 

I knew I had to create something. 

I knew that I had to rejoin team artist...but how? How could I give up my time to my students and (selfishly, in my mind) make time for me? 

You have to, y'all. You HAVE to do both. You HAVE to be an artist and an art teacher. You'll be happy. You'll be fulfilled. You'll be what your students need. But, most of all, you'll be who YOU need. I hope you enjoy this episode...and the many more to come. 

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Monday, July 15, 2019

My Experience on Nailed It!

As many of you know by now, I was on an episode of the Netflix show called Nailed It! If you've missed the episode, it is Season 3, Episode 3: Masterpiece or Disasterpiece. Over a year ago, I was contacted by Netflix to audition...and after some serious thought, I decided to give it a shot. Here's a sneak peak from the show:
Since appearing on the show, I've gotten so many questions that range from what is the audition process like, would you do it again, did you practice baking before hand, what's Wes like in real life and so much more. I decided to take all of those questions and answer them in this podcast. Here's a little taste:
The show was a tremendous amount of fun but I won't spoil it here. Click on the link below to listen to the episode in it's entirety. And while you are at it, you might want to give the other episodes a listen too. 

Episode 1: Welcome to Art Teacherin' with Cassie Stephens

Episode 2: Is this IT?! 

Episode 3: You're Hired! Now WHAT?!

Episode 4: What Teachers without Children of their Own Want You to Know

Episode 5: The Piano Story (for adult listeners only!)

Episode 6: Discovering Your Art Teacherin' Identity


Episode 7: My Experience on Nailed It!

Episode 8: Discovering Your WHY

Episode 9: The Biggest Secret about Being an Artist and an Art Teacher
Y'all might recall this dress I made last summer...what I couldn't tell you then was that it was for the show! AND what I didn't know was that they were gonna make me wear an apron the whole time, covering my dress. Dress blog post and details (with video, of course) here. 
The best fun with the best folks! I hope you enjoy watching the episode and listening to the behind the scenes details!
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Friday, July 12, 2019

In the Art Room: A Journey to Discovering Your WHY, Part 1

Images from the paintings created by the teachers in my school after I lead then in a PD to discover their WHY. You can read all about that and see videos of the process here. 

If you decide to do a workshop like this in your school or educational setting, please know that this was created by me and I would greatly appreciate acknowledgement. I'd also love to hear from you! My email address is cassieart75@gmail.com. 

Yesterday I released three new podcast episodes that I hope you'll take a listen to and enjoy. In this blog post, I want to focus on one of those episodes, Ep. 8: Discovering Your WHY

Before you listen to this podcast, I want you to know...it's what I'm gonna call a "working podcast". What I mean by that is I want you to carve a mere 20 minutes out of your day, grab some paper and markers, flair pens, crayons, whatever and sit down with me. And think. And dig a little deep. And create. Here's a little more info:
What we're going to cover are three questions. I'll walk you thru them a little bit here...but listening to the podcast is really going to take in all of what I have to share. Each of these questions only requires four responses. I would encourage you to unplug, settle back, and answer from your heart. Not how you think I want you to respond, now how you think your favorite teacher on IG would answer but YOU.
Me lookin' like a crazy person while presenting. I'm just a lil passionate, that's all. 

I did this workshop recently in a two and a half hour session at Get Your Teach On. We spent a lot of time thinking and creating and walked out of that workshop with a strong sense of WHY we teach. Discovering this is empowering for you. It will give you a sense of purpose on those days when you need it the most. Not to mention sharing your WHY with your students allows them to know the importance you place on spending your days with them. They will learn their value in your classroom. 

I'm going to be sharing a portion of my workshop in this blog post. I won't be sharing my responses to the questions with you here but you can hear them in my podcast. 

FINAL THOUGHT: I would love (and share!) to see your responses and creations! Feel free to email me or, if you post to Instagram, tag me in your stories or posts. In doing so, I'll assume you are okay with me sharing your creations here or on my Instagram. Okay! Let's get started!
You can answer this question any way you like, whether that be literally or figuratively. All I want are four little words. Don't over think this. Your knee-jerk answer is what we're lookin' for.
Again, same thing. There is no right or wrong answer, just YOUR answer. What YOU want your students to spend time with you doing. What's important to YOU as their teacher. 
You got it? You got your four responses to the three questions? Great. Now let's prioritize those lists with some colorful pie charts. This is where all of those random art supplies you gathered up are going to come in handy. 

Look at your responses to the question of what do you want your students to LEARN. My kids have 30 minute art classes. It's impossible to pack in everything that I wish. So discovering my Top Four and prioritizing them really helped me. I'm hoping it will do the same for you. Here are the pie charts I created. 
You'll notice that sometimes I answered my questions literally and, other times, figuratively. I also decided to make mine colorful because I wanted to make them attractive enough to hang in my art room. 
Developing these pie charts really got my wheels turning about my WHY. 
And I hope it does the same for you.
I'm going to end the blog post here and hope that you'll take a listen to the podcast. I feel that I have so much more to say on this topic...so I'm going to say that this one "will be continued...". Until then, I'd love to share with you a my WHY along with that of many other teachers. You can take a look and, hopefully be inspired, right here. 

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Cassie Stephens Podcast!

Hey, y'all! I’m so excited (and nervous with sweaty hands but mostly excited) to share with you the Cassie Stephens Podcast! Creating this podcast was one of the first things I put on my Summertime To Do list and I'm thrilled (and really rather shocked) that I am able to bring it to life.  It's been a lotta work and I am equal parts frightened and thrilled to share it with you. 

As you might know, I have worked with The Art of Ed for some time on the podcast Everyday Art Room. I learned so much from that experience and I am so thankful for that opportunity. This week will be my final episode with Everyday Art Room before passing the mic to Nic Hahn who I am positive is going to do an INCREDIBLE job (go, Nic!). I'm excited to hear what she has to share. 

While I have much more to share on all things art teacherin in this new podcast, I wanted a place where I could also speak about life: my bouts with depression, feeling lost, hating myself both as a teacher and a human, struggling to figure out just who I am, what I want out of life and how to love the person I am...it sounds dark and sad (but, y’all know me, it wont be for long!) but that is life. The part of life so many of us hide from or refuse to talk about. Well, I want to talk about it. Along with our day to day art teacherin life. Because that IS life: a mixed bag of family, work, feelings and figuring it all out. Here's just a bit more:
Many of you have asked about making the podcast available iTunes and I'm working on that. When it's available there, I will def let you know. Until then, you can find it on Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Spotify and Pocket Casts. I'm also trying to figure out how to make it available for you right here! 

If you'd like to listen from your laptop or whatever device you are currently using, you can simply click these links to my first six episodes!

Episode 1: Welcome to Art Teacherin' with Cassie Stephens

Episode 2: Is this IT?! 

Episode 3: You're Hired! Now WHAT?!

Episode 4: What Teachers without Children of their Own Want You to Know

Episode 5: The Piano Story (for adult listeners only!)

Episode 6: Discovering Your Art Teacherin' Identity

It's been a learning curve for sure as I'm doing all the recording, editing and the rest. You'll have to be patient with me...at least more patient than I've been with myself. You don't know how many times I nearly tossed this idea out the window. But what I want to share with you means so much to me...so I'm gonna keep on trying to make that happen. 

Love y'all! And I would love to hear what you think. xo!
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Sunday, June 9, 2019

DIY: Polymer Clay Earrings

What lengths will you go to in order to avoid unpleasantries? Me, I go to great lengths to dodge sewing. 

The thing is, I get myself into this sewing pickle every single time. It always starts with the super cute fabric. Currently, I'm in to BIG AND BOLD prints that I usually score at IKEA. Case in point: that bold orange print you see in the background there. I'm currently working on sewing it into a dress but I'm closing in on zipper and hem time and I REALLY don't like zipper and hem time. 

So, I made earrings to go with my yet to be complete dress!
Polymer clay (I like to use the brand Sculpey) is a clay that comes in a variety of colors and you bake in the oven to harden. I used it a lot in this book. When I wrote that book, I really wanted to include that kind of clay because my students and I love it so much. I keep a stash at home for when I want to work with it because it's so stinkin' fun.
 If you are new to polymer clay land, I thought I'd make a little video to walk you through how I made these earrings. Really the only supplies you'll need are the clay, some jump rings, French hook earrings and jewelry tools. 
 When making polymer clay earrings, just a couple things to remember:

* Polymer clay is self-adhesive. Meaning you don't have to use glue to get the pieces to stick together. Just press and go!

* Keep them light! You wouldn't think these would make for heavy earrings but they can if you aren't careful. In fact, the palette ones below, while my fave, are the most heavy and can only be worn for a short while.

* Don't put the hole too close to the edge of the design. I learned this the hard way. If you make it too close, the clay just might break when you are sliding the jump rings in.

* Don't make the clay too thin. Okay, it's a balance...light enough to be wearable, but not so thin that they break when adding the earrings.

* Allow the clay to cool completely. I have noticed that when I take the clay out of the toaster oven, it tends to still be a little bendy. It will harden as it cools.

* Bake at a lower temp than suggested if using a toaster oven. I like to use a toaster oven because they heat up faster and require less energy than my oven. That being said, they do tend to bake stuff a lot hotter...and I've burnt my share of polymer creations because of it. For that reason, I'd say bake at 200 for about 5-7 minutes.
 My little stash of polymer clay earrings.
I also dig using paint pens on them when they come out of the oven...although I have noticed that the paint does tend to rub off over time.
By the way, this here dress was made by me a while back and you can read all about it right here. And if you wanna see more polymer clay jewelry creations, you can go here to see some wild and wacky necklaces!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

In the Art Room: Chris Uphues Lesson for All!

 Hey, friends! A while ago, I created a Chris Uphues-inspired video for my sub to use. Because my classes are either 30 minutes in length or an hour, the video is broken up a bit. For example, as you watch, you'll see that my 30 minute kids learn about Chris and then do some sketching on dry erase boards before tackling paper. My older kids did this too...and then about 30 minutes in, met on the floor again to view the rest of the video. As I've said before, I LOVE having my students sketch on dry erase boards...it's their favorite because of the slick and forgiving surface. And it's mine as it uses less frustration and time with erasing and reworking. Here's that sub video...feel free to use it in your art teacherin' world. All I ask is that you give credit to lil ole me when you share your student's work or resources. 
Side Note: Jen and Chris Uphues are some of my most favorite folks on the planet. You'd be hard pressed to find two kinder or more down to earth people. I LOVE introducing them to my kids because I know that these are some seriously AMAZINGLY good people. And I'm super judge-y so you know I'm tellin' ya'll the true (insert winky-tongue face emoji). 
Meeting them this fall was one of the highlights of my school year!
When I initially created the lesson, I wasn't sure how I wanted the kids to finish their work...just this week did we dig the drawings back up and I started letting my early finishers work on them. All my kids are in the middle of some big projects that they all seem to finish at totaly different speeds. So this lesson has been a fun and quick in-between project. They kids love drawing these funny faces!
FOR THE FREE DOWNLOADABLE IDEA SHEETS, JUST CLICK HERE! 

FOR THE FREE HEART SHEET, CLICK HERE!
Have fun! 

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

What the Art Teacher Wore #211

I need y'all to say a lil prayer for me...as we are heading into a FULL week next week! That's right. While some of y'all teacherin' friends work a partial week, we are in it to win it, truckin' all the way until 10am on Friday morning. If I make it if the kids make it that long. Every last one of us is runnin' on fumes and hot chocolate at this point. BUT...we still makin' some masterpieces!
None of which I've had two seconds to blog about...so that's super awesome. My goal is to post a bunch of winter-themed lessons on this here blog super soon. AND I do believe I've been saying that for months but things have been cray around here. I'm inching closer to being finished with my new book (preorder here, eep!!) and having some time to actually create and catch up on this here blog is quickly becoming a reality. I'm so happy for it! In the meantime, if you follow me on IG, then you've seen a lotta these lessons already. I've even shared the details in my stories. But the plan is to create real live videos for you to share with your kiddos over my break. So...stay tuned. 


 One project I'm stoked to share are these here super cute first grade penguins. The kids and I are loving this lesson and learning so much! Bingo daubers were used for both this lesson and the third grade abstract name design shown above. 
 Since kindergarten is wrapping up their snowmen this week, I had to wear this here snowman dress, right? I found it on Amazon and it was both inexpensive and super cute, if I do say so. And I just did. But not as cute as these guys...
 These were all lookin' pretty adorable but adding the chalk around the edge and to the cheeks totally took it to another level. 
 That night, my good buddy Tamara hosted a craft night...and I made this cute lil toy soldier! She is the most amazing host. We had a wonderful dinner WHILE creating. Thankfully she had the templates for the solider all cut out so it was just a matter of picking my colors, tracing and cutting. She even had a frame for each one of us. I was pretty excited to finish...and have him match my bonus room so well. 
 Another week, another tree skirt. It's the most tree skirtin'est time of the year!
These second grade chalked background for an upcoming Wolf Kahn-inspired landscape has me really excited. Yet another lesson to share with y'all soon!
I have found that all the shops have the best tacky holiday sweaters right now! Target is where I scored this lil number and I love it. 
 Speakin' of love, that's what I feel when I stare at these fourth grade beauties. Stay tuned on this one, we'll soon be adding these to our snow globes. 
And would you look at that! We got all fancy for our nephew's wedding this weekend and I just had to share...we clean up pretty good.
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