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Art in a Public School During a Global Pandemic: Goldkind ’23 at PS 234 in New York City, New York

For my winter 2021 co-op term, I have been working at a public school in New York City as a teaching assistant in an art room. I work with kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. Although it is not my first week of working at PS 234, I am still getting the hang of everything: learning how to work with Madeline, the art teacher; learning students’ names; learning where the supplies are kept; etc. It is really helpful that I recognize a handful of students who I worked with previously but, holy cow, are they grown!

So far, I’m enjoying it… I mean, who wouldn’t like being paid to do art for three hours a day with a bunch of creative kiddos? Especially since, for the most part, all the kids are very sweet and so are my colleagues. 

First picture: This is a picture of the “Artitorium” as we call it! Two students sit every other row. On the projector is an example of an art prompt, which we begin each class with. 

Second picture: This is a picture of the trays which hold the students’ art materials. I am about to put three pieces of colored paper in each student’s tray for collaging. 

Third picture: This is a picture of an example of how to rip circles into the black and white pieces of paper for collaging. That day, we also went over ripping slowly and ripping quickly, as well as a happy versus a sad glue stick (hint: sad glue sticks break!).

I have also been managing to create somewhat of a routine for myself, something I’ve been missing since the pandemic went into full swing. Each weekday, I wake up at 8:45, get dressed & all that jazz, catch the bus around 9:30 (Exciting news! I have made friends which the bus driver, Al, and now I don’t have to pay a fare! Woohoo!), get a bagel & coffee from the cart and try to not freeze for about 30 minutes, check-in at 10:30 and do all the work things until 1:30. My time during work is scheduled similarly:

10:30-10:45: End of class (sometimes a remote class). Put away trays and other materials before putting out the materials for the next class. 

10:45-11:30: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and put out the materials for the next class. 

11:30-12:15: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and put out the materials for the next class. Unless it is Monday or Friday when I help out in the gym by cleaning the materials the kids are playing with, making sure the kids are playing nicely, and bring kids to the bathroom or the nurse’s office (doesn’t happen often, thankfully!). 

12:15-1:00: Help students and Madeline, put away trays and other materials, and get ready for the next day. Sometimes this looks like putting out all of the trays or putting in new supplies if they are starting a new project. 

1:00-1:30: Occasionally, I have lunch with Madeline. When I don’t, I go to the office and do whatever work they have for me, such as cleaning and organizing or running errands and answering the phones. More often than not, I have no work to do so I talk with my coworkers or I read or write. 

It’s been snowy recently so we’ve been building snow people and saving stray pieces of ice from the sidewalk.

Most days, when I get out of work, I babysit (among other things) for the rest of the afternoon. Although this is usually a really chaotic time of day for me (I have to get from West to East within 30 minutes of the second I step out of the school building), I really enjoy it! I babysit a really sweet eight-year-old boy named Tristian, who loves cats, turtles, sharks, and the Cars movies, and also wants to be a private investigator. Usually, when I pick him up, we go to the playground to swing until about 3:30. Afterward, we go to a local cafe where we drink cocoa, dance, and I read stories to him until his mama picks him up.

What my mornings look like!


S P E C I A L    M O M E M E N T S   W H I C H    M A D E    M E    S M I L E:

1. (Between a first-grader and Madeline)

Madeline: Okay first-graders! Before we watch a video on how crayons are made, what do you think crayons are made of?

*first-grader wearing hot pink and sequins raises hands*

Madeline: Yes?

First-grader: GUMBALLS!

2. (Between me and a second-grader, Lucas)

Lucas: *raises hand*

Me: Hi! You’re doing a great job! What do you need?

Lucas: I need to tell you a secret.

Me: *leans in and covers my ear* What’s up?

Lucas: Sometimes… I eat kibble… like dog kibble… My grandma lets me eat it when her dog isn’t home… It’s really yummy for dinner… but my mommy doesn’t let me eat it.

Me: Oh wow… You probably shouldn’t eat it too often. Do you have a favorite kind?

Lucas: Nope, I like them all!

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