Sounds like you have been doing it for a while. I am in my 27 year of high school art teaching.Actually, I taught elementary art for four years, but went back to high school. Those elementary teachers teach right until June 30! I'm in Canada, remember?
My question to you;"Are your classes multi-graded? If they were separated by grade, as in gr.9,then10,then11,etc., then you could build on proficiency.I have separate grades-two semesters. I have those students for 75 minutes a day. I have one Brent wheel, so don't spend too much time on throwing. We do a six week clay unit, as well as all the other media, like painting and design and drawing. I do five units a semester.
As for those bad kids, everyone gets them. You try to be tough and make the students understand that you have a serious course. I have thrown a lot of students out, after giving the written assignment, going to admin, calling the parents. I hate calling parents.
Because I have separate grades, as you get into the higher grades, you have less difficulties. Grade nine is usually the toughest grade, but most of the time they settle into it.
Did I mention that I was voted the Canadian High School Art Educator of the year for 2012? Been doing it a long time.
Elementary Art.....I love the kids, hate the projects. The concepts and techniques are too basic. I realize you have to teach the basics/ foundations, but that aint for me. Also, from my experience, elementary art classes exist to make holiday decorations for parents and props for school plays.
My classes are indeed multi-grade, 9-12. It is one of the two classes in the Art Department, with no prerequisite. So all of them, unless they have experience elsewhere, are at the same level, in terms of clay work, namely the potter's wheel.
Congratulations on the honor.
You asked about how I allotted time for wheel throwing? Tough one. I didn't , at least not in the Ceramics one classes. After teaching Ceramics 1 for several years, and having many students take it a second time to get more experience where they would work on the wheel-Ceramics 2 happened. It came about as an argument with audits, class requirements, and student needs. In the end I held them over a barrel with the fact that they had in the past allowed several students over several years to take an unscheduled, unnamed, Ceramics course-not a good thing to be on the audit. So I got a Ceramics 2 class, they got me to teach it at the same time as Ceramics 1. Class sizes were limited to 20 in the end, no matter what the mix. Ceramics 2 was held to 5 as I only had six wheels. You know, it worked out well. I would do demonstrations for the 1's, move into the wheel room and check on progress, make suggestions and adjustments to posture, hand position, grip etc. Then go back to the 1's, back and forth the entire period-50 minutes-5 days a week. I don't believe you can teach anyone the wheel, they have to learn it-like riding a bike. I started them with 9 inch cylinders with 3lb. Once completed-usually by 1st MP. Then had them choose an object they were interested in making. I did demonstration on the form, and had them research variations and present sketches to me. Then they were required to create 3 in series. They also had to create a slab and wheel thrown combination pot, and their final benchmark was a teapot form. We had done mugs, and lids as sides and the final demo was a series of pouring spouts. Kept them busy, kept me running, but I loved it.
Classes, that don't exist? I can't imagine doing something like that.....hehe.... I do "Independent Study" courses, for any subject I teach. The administration hasn't said anything about it yet.
I wished I had a higher level ceramics class I could teach, so I could have the students focus on the wheel, but alas, I don't see that happening. So my best solution, seems to be, cramming in as much as possible. Sadly this means, that I am somewhat tied, to basic forms. I do show examples of more complex, and multi-piece vessels, and I have had students make an attempt at those. I also have students sketch out ideas for their wheel projects, before they start on the wheel. I tell them, that I can't help on the wheel, until I know what they are going form.
I do definitely agree with you, that you can't teach the wheel. I tell the students that, when I'm doing my demo, especially with centering and pulling the clay. It's just something you have to get a feel for, and you can't teach that.
Yes "independent Study" covered a lot of good and ills. Our district was going for certification of some sort and had auditors in for nearly everything from class sizes, to budget, to grounds. If it could be quantified, they did it. It did get me the 2nd level class as I said, it also got me a second level of my animation classe. This day and age of budgetary constraints and lack of support when it comes to increases, can be beaten if you strike when the opportunity arises. The adult class helped as the director for Federal Programs was in the class many years, often unallocated money would find its way for equipment. I also had the head of personnel in the class many years. Think these things don't help-think again!
I also have my share of independent study students, but really only the one ceramics class. The problem is space, and the studio is tiny. Thus I only have three wheels. I simply require all students to make "something" on the wheel, so even the ones who don't like to get messy will try it. I give regular demos for inspiration (I hope). If I could get a bigger classroom I'd like to get more wheels, and perhaps try a ceramics 2 class, even if it had to be at the same time as 1. Thanks for the posts. They are helpful, as an art teacher's' dilemma often involves getting the most result from the least resources...
I was moved into the basement from upstairs in my regular room-they needed the space for Social Studies classes! I had a room that was about 15 by 20. Used 8ft melamine top cafeteria tables, kiln in same room with 2 wheels. No elbow room! I had a door in the back of the room that had a small hole in it. I kept seeing this large room cluttered with all sorts of janitorial stuff and other supplies. I lusted after that room! So I started building frame work to get it. "It really is difficult to store projects that are larger, and have everyone rolling out slabs on the tables do you mind if I let them do it on the floor in the hall?" "Do I have to take 25 students this semester< you've seen how crowded the room is?" "Is there another space in the building that would allow for the larger class?" Mind you this did not happen in a day, but in 3 years I had that room! This and the room I was presently in. The new space was 15 by 40 Room for the new Walker pug mill, a wedging table 6 work benches, lots of storage racks for projects, potters wheels in old room grew to 6. Maybe your building has a space. . . .
Yes. I lust after a mostly unused office accross the hall which would be perfect to at least put the kiln (has a wall to the outside for the vent) so that it isn't in the classroom, and perhaps a wheel or two. But I've asked for it and been refused. The office is only used to distribute yearbooks at the end of the year, grr! Ceramics is a popular class, and I'v reiterated that I could take more students if I had bigger space, but to no avail. I think the problem might be administrative, and space is quite tight at this school so if there is extra it is likely to go to an academic need...however we are embarking on a new strategic plan, so perhaps someday in the far off) future....
So the nest obvious question is-how is the kiln vented today? Is it? Do you have to fire an unvented kiln in a room with students? Is the kiln sufficiently separated from the student work areas to prevent accidental student accidents, is it separated from the wall by at least 1 foot of open space? Do you dare present this problem or do you fear the administration cutting the course completely. These are the things we deal with day to day in the public schools, and the compromises we make. Interesting problems