Disclaimer: The above picture has nothing to do with note, but is simply used to draw you in by its adorableness. Mission accomplished?
Today is officially the final day of a class I'm teaching at the college. This is the second time I've taught an Art Appreciation class at the university level, and both times have been slightly humbling experiences.
Here's the thing... I slept through almost all of Art History in college - 1 AND 2. At the time I had better things to think about, like this really cute boy with blond hair (later known as Husband) and Days of Our Lives, which just happened to be on at the same time as above mentioned class. Let's not even mention those first few days of spring when going to class at 2pm is UNBEARABLE. Needless to say... I don't remember much besides sitting through billions of prehistoric slides that all looked the same to me.
But here's the other thing... The history of art is SO FREAKING AMAZING if you pay attention. Who knew?
I spent the first half of the semester teaching about color theory and art elements - things I am well versed in and love to expose people to. I thought the semester was going really well, so imagine my surprise when I opened up the book after the midterm and realized the first thing I was going to teach in the second half was about Mesopotamia and all things ancient. Cue the prehistoric slides that all look the same.
Here's something else... it's hard to learn about something that you need to TEACH TO ADULTS when your plan all along has been to keep your life chill and playful for the time being.
Needless to say, I was terrified. I read and reread everything a million times. I felt like I was learning it all for the first time, and although I LOVED it I was still terrified. I just hoped and prayed that none of my students would realize this.
The second half of the semester went just okay. There were a few class periods when I clearly knew little to nothing about what I was talking about, but I filled in the gaps with awesome projects that led everyone to express concern over "not being good at art". This is where the carefree, "Everyone is an artist" art-teacher chant can be played out, complete with twirling around the room in my gypsy skirt while swinging a paintbrush in the air like I'm painting the SKY!!!! To be honest, I love getting people out of the art comfort zones, and letting everyone believe I am a crazy artist that doesn't know better, so this part about terrifying non-art students was fun for me.
By the end I felt like I was practically apologizing for the way the semester went, without actually admitting that it went poorly. I refused to look at the teacher evaluations that have been done for weeks now because I'm just plain scared.
But this afternoon their final part of their final exam is due - a two-part essay. I was half-expecting nobody to turn it in. But I opened my mailbox to see not only the first half of the essays sitting there securely for my reading pleasure, but also a couple of lovely wonderful affirming notes from students.
Today I am thankful for the simple gesture of a kind word.
What took these students probably three minutes, actually changed the course of my day/week/teaching career. Never underestimate the power of a lovely and unexpected thank you note.
Or the power of fake it till you make it.