SchoolArts Magazine

SUM 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 16 of 54

I 'm afraid to tell you how well I relax. Our hardworking colleagues defend teachers' salaries by telling the world how hard we work in our free time. I appreciate them. I agree with them. I used to be like them. My life now though is evidence that relaxation is possible. All Work, No Play Before I became a father, I worked very hard. I stayed up past midnight to prepare lessons. I was always thinking about my next lesson. I jot- ted ideas into a book I kept in my back pocket. I went to craft fairs to seek inspiration. I tested my lessons on my friends. On a trip to Mexico, I collected Frida Kahlo trinkets with which to decorate my artroom. I spent summers teaching workshops and preparing for the coming school year. I could not anticipate how parent- hood would change me. For too many months, I tried to be a dad while working the way I always did, but I crashed. I crashed spectacularly. Everyone who loved me told me that I had to slow down and let some things go. If I didn't want to burn out, I would have to learn to pace myself. Work Smarter My favorite bit of advice came from a veteran teacher, who told me "Work smarter, not harder." So, every week, I scrutinized my lessons to see how my preparations could be streamlined. I wouldn't do anything for my students that they couldn't do for themselves. They could prep their own paper. They could bind their own sketchbooks. They could tell me about master art - ists. They could even grade each oth- er's work. It only took me a few weeks t o realize that my classes improved when I gave students more control. A t home, I resolved to do one hour of schoolwork each day—max—which forced me to work more efficiently. Suddenly, I had time to play with my children. To clean the house. To beg my wife to join me on the porch. Rest and Relaxation I started going to bed earlier. I expe- rienced firsthand how sleep improves o ne's life. I was happier and healthier. I came to school with more patience and compassion. Late nights could not be avoided entirely—I am a father after all. It was worthwhile, though, to note that frustration and exasperation came on the heels of every late night. Rest and relaxation, I now believe, are vital to a teacher's success. Do Something Fun I started to add, "Do something fun" to the top of my to-do lists. I read books, watched movies, and even played video games for the first time in years. My wife and I took turns going out on our own to visit friends or enjoy restaurants. My mom used to say this about the importance of recreation: "What does 'recreation' mean? To create again." My favorite activity has always been drawing. Artistically, the two most productive times in my life have been art school and fatherhood. My two-year-old son and I kept a sketch- book together. I doodled his toys and expressions. He perfected my draw- ings with carefree crayon razzmatazz. Rama Hughes Rest and relaxation, I believe, are vital to a teacher's success. The Art of Relaxation M A N A G I N G T H E A R T R O O M CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. Illustration by Rama Hughes. 12 SUMMER 2016 SchoolArts

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