Monday, February 3, 2014

On friendship, and the very best rewards

So I was feeling a little sorry for myself for a moment tonight.  The finalists for the Art Ed Blog of the Year were announced today, and I was not included.  It brought me back to high school.  I was (and still am) really short, just under 5' tall, and on top of that, I'm kind of pigeon-toed and wear glasses.  I was, to the casual observer, a nerdy sort, I guess, good at math, an avid reader, artistic, but socially insecure, and a total klutz in orthopedic shoes.  When teams were chosen in gym class, I was always the last pick.  I didn't get asked to the prom.  College was a bit of a chance to reinvent myself, though I was still short. I have memories of having hair down to my waist, being in a crowded bar where a lot of people were smoking cigarettes, and smelling that awful smell of burning hair. Yikes, it's mine!!!  One of the hazards of being short....  Here's me, circa 1972-73, SUNY New Paltz.

 I have felt like the odd girl out many times in my life, but as an adult, and in my career, I discovered I was good at what I did, and I gained confidence in myself.  I put myself in leadership roles, and became president of my school district's local teacher association.  I began teaching workshops at my state conferences, and discovered that I had workshop 'groupies'.  I began blogging, and I discovered you, my loyal wonderful readership. But there are still times when I feel left out.

Back a number of years ago, at the annual conference of my state art teacher association they would award the Art Teacher of the Year with a really fun gift: an Art Teacher Barbie.  I was smitten.  I am a member of the original Barbie generation, and always thought this would be an award that would really be special to me.  But I knew it was an award I'd never get, because, simply, someone needs to nominate you.  I was the sole art teacher in my building, and felt really on my own.  That story has a happy surprise ending, that I wrote about here.  Here's my Art Teacher Barbie, though not dressed for work.
 
 So I have learned that I get my rewards in unusual ways.  I have a great family, including a talented son who has become a fine young man (as well as inheriting some of his mother's quirkiness), and of whom I am very proud, and that is the best reward ever.  Here's my family:
 
And I have had, and still have, students who are the craziest, happiest, most loveable and creative  beings on the planet.  Here are a few:
 
 
And, I may not be in the Art Ed Blog of the Year top 10, or even top 20, but I have YOU, the best readership on the planet without a doubt.  Many of you have become SO much more to me than just casual readers of my blog and/or writer of your own blogs.  You have become real friends.  So to me, getting to know people such as (I'll use their blogger names) Art Project Girl, Cassie Stephens, Mr. R, Mr. E, Rina, Mrs. Hahn, Marcia, Christie, Artful Artsy Amy, Patty, Sharpiewoman (where are you, Pat?), and more, has been a real joy.  And those of you I haven't named - you who read my blog regularly, who talk to me via email when you want to pick my brain, who recognize me at conferences (the silver hair is a giveaway) and stop me to say hello, you cannot begin to know how important you have become in my life.  Certainly, having readers and friends like all of you is a 1000 times better than having an award badge to figure out how to stick on the side of my blog (which is too crowded already anyhow).

Note: the pics below are with blogger friends and more, at NAEA 2012 in NYC
 
 I expect to have a lot more smiling pics like this, from the NAEA convention this March in San Diego!  Maybe some of you will be in these photos!!


So no sour grapes here; after a little moment of disappointment, I realize I am no longer the goofy shy kid waiting to be picked for a team.  I am proud of myself, and I wouldn't change a thing!  Thank you, readers and friends, for giving me the best award ever.

Love and hugs to you all! 

15 comments:

  1. Two things I forgot to mention:
    1) Congrats to all the wonderful bloggers who WERE nominated. I don't begrudge you this honor, and I have already cast my vote!

    2) The drinking age was 18 when I was in college, and smoking was common and allowed in bars. I was 19 when the pic at the top of the post was taken, and it was not my everyday fashion, which was more likely to be patched up overalls or jeans, and shirts with oil paint splotches on my sleeves all the time or smelling like photographic chemicals. The truth is, I was wearing that dress because I had just returned from my wonderful grandmother's funeral. I swear, I wore that dress to a FUNERAL. It was probably the only dress I owned at the time, and I sewed it myself. Grandma would have liked it.

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    1. That seems like a perfect dress for a funeral celebrating your grandma's life. Loves seeing all your photos, Phyl! I missed the nomination deadline this year but I will tell you why I nominated you a few years ago- you were one of the first bloggers to find me and I appreciate the encouragement you offer. I remember you offering ENCOURAGEMENT to do more 3d projects instead of criticizing me for not doing more. I'm still figuring out ways to do that, by the way. :) Your positive attitude and leadership is appreciated. I've been adjusting to 2 kiddos at home and thus not as active in our blogging community but I wanted to make the time to leave you a comment. Have a great day!

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    2. Thanks, Katie!

      Meanwhile - taking care of your kids is the most important job in the world!

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  2. You are always number one on my list. You were the first person to reach out to me when I started my blog and it meant the world to me!

    Kim

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  3. What great memories! I WILL go to another conference in the next couple of years. You should get an "influential blogger" award because I know you have been a source of encouragement to lots of new bloggers. It's funny that you mention your height as being a way you've felt out of place. I feel the same way, but because I'm 6 feet tall. Anyways, those gigantic masks are awesome! Do they have an underlying structure of support? Also who are the other people (besides your husband and son) in your family picture?

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    1. Hi Marcia! It occurred to me that maybe I should have asked everyone who's in the NAEA pics if it was OK for me to post them again, so hopefully nobody minds.

      To answer your questions - those masks were made on large sheets of oak tag. I posted about the process here: http://plbrown.blogspot.com/2011/09/4th-grade-marvelous-masks.html
      In that post, I gave credit to blogger Lori, who's post inspired that project.

      And the people in the family pic - good question! There is, of course, me, my husband and son, and the lovely blond is my terrific stepdaughter, with her husband and two wild and crazy little boys! This was our annual goofy Thanksgiving photo.

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  4. Aw shux. Catch ya next time. Wish I would have caught your blog sooner. I do enjoy looking at your wonderful pieces.

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    1. Thanks! It's never too late to scroll through old posts - they don't go away!

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  5. Hey, Phyl. I've been thinking about your post for a few days now. I guess it brings up some of the pitfalls of awards, recognition, competition, etc. (all of which I have mixed feelings about in the setting of art). Positive recognition can be lovely, but as teachers, I think it is useful and important to think about how that acknowledgement is structured so that we don't end up having students with hurt feelings. I find these blogging "awards" that circulate from time to time interesting because they sometimes introduce me to blogs that are new to me and I end up following. When rankings are attached to the process (1st, 2nd 3rd, etc) I find myself being less interested and when campaigning enters the picture, for me, it is a complete turn-off and I generally don't read those posts. There is just something about that whole process that sort of runs counter to the sense of community that I identify with blogging. As far as our art blogs go, I'm guessing that most of us probably got started as a way to share ideas and contribute to the art teacher community out there. I am pretty sure we didn't get into it for awards. I think I have mentioned before that yours was one of the first blogs I stumbled upon during the summer of 2010 when I got started. I didn't even know what a "follower" was when I started out and you were my first follower!! With nearly 1000 followers now, you can be sure that plenty of us are tuning in (or maybe I should say clicking in) to There's a Dragon...daily to see what you have discovered in your corner of the world to share. And you are right, that is the very best reward.

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    1. Christie, you reminded me of a funny story. I have always avoided art contests for my students because of the way it pits students against each other, hoping that they are 'better' than someone else. I do not hang ribbons or awards on displays (unless EVERYONE gets a ribbon), at least for elementary kids. But, of course as the art teacher I would get asked to judge coloring contests. So here's what I did. I would pick the most exuberant, enthusiastic piece, not the one who neatly traced the outlines and carefully colored the sky blue and the chimney red. As a result, some kids got awards who never got recognized for anything else, and I was asked to judge contests less and less! Haha! ("Really?!?! THAT one is the WINNER?!!?").

      Anyhow, thank you for your comment, which is, like your posts and your lessons, very thoughtful and layered. Perfect. Thank you!

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