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Fieldnotes 3/28

abenjamin's picture

In between terms at the art center, there is a one week Spring Break camp, where students can sign up for morning, afternoon, or full days of classes for one or more of the 4 days (M-Th).

C (head of children's programs) asked me to come in and help out for Spring Break! I showed up on Thurs. morning, not knowing what class, who I would be working with, etc. C comes out, says theres a clay class and a jewelry class. I have more recent expreience with clay (I haven't done jewelry since I was much younger), but C mentioned that the Jewelry teacher seemed overwhelmed by the number of students who signed up for her class, while the clay instructor was okay with a large class, so I went to Jewelry.

She was very happy to have a helper. She hadn't arrived to prep as early as she would have liked, so she ahd a lot for me to do and put me to work almost immediately, to prep materials. I was super happy to be useful.

Older teacher, 50s maybe.

For the spring break classes, all ages sign up for any classes, so this class had a v wide range: 4-12. At first I thought it would be insane for 4 yr olds to learn to use jewelry tools, let alone be in the same class as 12 yr olds (and vice versa), but it actually worked out pretty well, each child managed to scaffold the activities to their own level (easy to do w/ each project).

One child was problematic from the beginning. She kept talking over the instructor, drawing attention to herself and making sure she was noticed/incuded. At one point early on, she stormed from her seat and sat on the floor hiding behind a table close to where I was prepping. I ignored her for a while, then told her to go back to her seat. it took a bit of pushing, but eventually she returned. Apparently she had been upset because she had been trying to get the instructors attention, but she wouldn't go over to her immediately. I explained to her that every student had to receive equal attention, so it was unfair to the rest of the class for her to make a scene. he had to be patient.

Later on, I was working one-on-one helping the students with a specifically challenging task using the tools. (Sketch of room/where i was standing). I was standing btwn two tables, with my back to her (my hand resting on an unaccompanied stool behind me) helping a student at the other table. While assisting that student, I could hear her asking over and over for help/attention. I ignored her for a while, then started to feel what I assumed to be her poking the nail of my pinky (resting behind me). After a while, I was getting annoyed, so I turned around to tell her to be patient and I would get to her next, when I realized she was poking/gently squeezing my nail with the jewelry pliers!

I was extremely surprised and upset. Somehow, I kept my cool, but sternly made sure she understood how not-okay that was: that these tools could be very dangerous and she could have seriously hurt me. I tried to repeat myself again, b/c she seemed not to understand the severity of her actions, but she just wasn't getting it, she only wanted me to look at her work. Looking back, I wish I had taken her off to the side to speak with her even more sternly.