Rain, Voting, Indoor Recess and Cleaning Up Paint

….an exhausting couple of days

Yesterday my grade 5 class finished, continued and started their abstract paintings. It was a crazy art class with 30 students all working on canvases and acrylic paint. It was the first time that the boys made less mess than the girls and they were really focused on their work. The girls on the other hand were silly, messy and a little too free with the amount of paint they used.

Just as we were ready to start, an announcement for grade 5 boys and girls who were interested in trying out for shot put were called to go outside. All of a sudden about half the class left. The remaining half were pleased to have more space but it didn’t last long because after about 20 minutes the students returned.

A half hour later we were well into our paintings  and wouldn’t you know it we had a fire drill. A few girls were literally up to their elbows in paint and I had to quickly cover their hands with towels as we made our way outside. I have to admit that I totally lost it with these girls, who are normally very responsible students but for some reason they turned into 5 year olds yesterdays.

When we returned to class we had another 20 minutes to work and then it was time to clean up. We started clean up a little earlier because last time we didn’t give ourselves enough time. A couple of girls volunteered to clean the paint palettes and they quickly went into my office where I have the only sink in the room. The boys quickly cleaned up their tables and put away their paintings.

The girls in the office seemed to be taking a long time to clean and when I went into my office I was assaulted with a mess like I’ve never seen before. The bell was about to sound off  so I sent them to the bathroom to clean themselves. I didn’t really appreciate how bad the mess was until I tried to organize it. I found an empty bin and put all the dirty palettes and brushes into it and then cleared the counter and emptied the sink. There was paint everywhere….. the backsplash, counter, drying rack, cupboard doors and the floor. Even my kettle was covered with blue paint. I spent the next 20 minutes just clearing the paint from the sink.

I had to stop cleaning when my kindergarten class came to the library for a story and when one of my colleagues arrived to continue with the class I went back to my office and cleaned for another half an hour. When the bell at the end of the day went off I went outside to do bus duty and when I came back I worked another hour cleaning. I left the brushes to soak and I bagged the dirty towels to take home and launder.

Today it rained all day which means that the kids had indoor recess all day. It was also voting day in the library. For the last four months we’ve been reading a selection of books written by Canadian authors. The program is called The Forest of Reading and at the end of April students across Ontario vote for their favourite books. Last week the entire school voted for their favourite English picture book and today the French Immersion students voted for their favourite French picture book. The older students (grades 3 to 5) belong to a book club that I run with the help of the staff and today was their day to vote for their favourite fiction, non-fiction and French books. Students came down during recess today and filled in a ballot and deposited it into the ballot box. A busy day.

By lunch time today the students were very restless and very loud. As I get older I find the noise unbearable and it makes me very grumpy. My class after lunch was no exception and after 3 warnings I told them they weren’t allowed to speak at all and they had to use sign language to communicate. I don’t know why it works but it was quiet in the art room for the next minutes. When they got too noisy again I insisted on the no talking rule again and once again it was quiet. This class was working on their weaving projects and they managed to get a lot done.

After recess I went to one of the kindergarten classes to pick up the class and take them back to the library so that they could vote for their favourite book. Like the rest of the school this class was busy and chatty but because I was changing up the routine they were anxious to clean up and see what they would do next. I explained to the class that when we walked to the library we were going to do some exercises to get our muscles moving and we were going to do it quietly. It was like a game of moving Simon Says. We organized the children into a line and I started doing lunges, high steps and large arm movements as we made our way to the library. One day I figured that it is about a 200 metre walk from the kindergarten rooms to the library. By the time we got to the library our hearts beat a little faster, especially mine and the children got rid of them of their pent up energy.

For the last period of the day I had the grade 5 class that I had for art yesterday. After voting I sat them down and complimented the boys for their cooperation and neatness during art and we discussed the problems that we encountered before, during and after the fire drill. I think the girls were a little uncomfortable when they realized that they were part of the problem yesterday.

At the end of the day my library helpers came in to help me clean a few more palettes and brushes, put away books, organize the shelves and count the votes. Before I left I was able to email the results of the votes to the Ontario Library Association. Tomorrow I’ll probably discover that a class forgot to vote or students who have been away want to vote. Oh well. C’est la vie!

Here are a few more finished abstract paintings and three finished weavings. When I see students’ finished work I can’t stay angry for long. In the end it all seems worthwhile.