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My homeroom class was 8H. At that time the district grouped students homogeneously by rank or GPA. The “lowest” ranking class was 8H and they were mine. I remember the first day I met them, I was full of knowledge after completing my Master of Art Education just a few months before. I knew just what to do, just what to say. Undoubtedly, the students would love and respect me, and I would inspire them and teach them to love art. They would use art as another language for learning, I would differentiate to meet their needs and identify their “intelligence” based on Howard Gardner’s work (I had his book handy, just in case!). They would become lifelong learners--, after all this was all part of my newly developed teaching philosophy.
Students began filtering into the room. “Who the “f” are you?” some of them asked. Most of them ignored me. Some brought coffee and snacks, one sat under my back table, a couple on the window stills, and a few quietly sat at their desks. I introduced myself to the kids that were listening, I tried to engage with kids that weren’t and somehow, I got through it. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.
I knew right away that I was completely unprepared for these circumstances. I felt like an impostor. Although I lived in the same city they did, I went to private schools. I was a 35- year-old white woman, in a racially and ethnically diverse school, with no, “street cred” as my students freely told me. I needed to figure out how to earn their trust and respect, and I needed to do it immediately.
St. Martin Pettenati, Rochelle
"Reflections, Relationships and Art Class,"
Artizein: Arts and Teaching Journal: Vol. 6:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/atj/vol6/iss1/7