So, here I am finally, after a major hiatus. As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis last year in December, and my world turned upside down almost immediately after that. For those that have never heard of ulcerative colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, it is an autoimmune disease of the large intestine, directly related to Crohn’s disease. My digestive system, specifically my large intestine, is being attacked by my immune system. This was my first extremely severe flare. My symptoms worsened for months, and were unresponsive to treatment, and in April I was hospitalized for a month. For a few weeks I wasn’t allowed to eat anything, and I was placed on TPN, an IV form of nutrition that is delivered through a PICC line. When I was finally released to go home, I was still on high doses of IV antibiotics and corticosteroids, pain medication, and I still had the TPN/PICC line for nutrition.
I was on short-term disability from the time I entered the hospital on April 5th through the rest of the school year. At the end of June I finally finished the IV medications, and at the end of July I started taking Humira. I was scheduled for a total colectomy, but the disease started to respond to the Humira and I started to show signs of healing, so the surgery was canceled. At the beginning of August, just in time for my birthday I was able to have the PICC line removed, and I was approved to return to work at the beginning of this school year. And here I am!
The entire time I was in the hospital I was trying to stay in contact with my school, sending emailed sub plans when I could and trying to ensure that the long-term substitute was able to carry on with meaningful art lessons with my students. I missed teaching and my students so much that I realized right away that my art classroom is my happy place. All I wanted to do was be well enough to go back to work. Every day I remember how awful it was to be away, and I am thankful for every little quirk of my job as an art teacher. There is nothing like facing your mortality to suddenly appreciate all the things you used to complain about! I have enjoyed nearly every moment of being back in my classroom, and every morning when I wake up I feel thankful to get to go to work. It was a painful experience, but it made me emotionally stronger and it left me in a place of total gratitude for everything I have.
Now that I have gotten back to feeling 100%, I am ready to get back to blogging. I thought I would start with the exciting news that I have my third student teacher this year. April started a few weeks ago and is just completed her first full takeover week. She has been focusing her lesson development on fifth grade, and our students are completely engaged in her worldly objects contour line drawing lesson. When she selected contour drawing as a possible lesson I shared the artwork of Kristy Patterson. During my Enhancing Elementary Art Expertise course a fellow art teacher described using Kristy’s work as inspiration for a contour drawing lesson, and we agreed that this was an engaging way to get students involved in contour drawing. The seeds were planted and April has been developing the lesson to engage students in discussing and analyzing the work, as well as leading them through contour drawing practice.
I was blown away by the improvement in the students observational drawing skills after only one class period of practice. Here is a series of drawings by one student. This definitely show the amazing improvement thirty minutes of practice can make!
This week students will continue to develop their contour line drawing skills by bringing in their own personally meaningful objects and creating their final drawing. I cannot wait to see how the final drawings turn out.