Comic Strips: Complain, Complain, Complain

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  

Going back to work or school after winter break is difficult for many people.  Yet many look forward to getting back into a routine.  For some there are other reasons. 

I find it fascinating how parents underestimate their influence on their children.  Many think that playing with them, helping them with their homework or directly spending time with them is the only direct influence they have on them.  Yet it’s the times that they do not that might have the most influence.  Parents are always surprised at how much their children pick up when they think that they are not listening.  I have seen this in many classrooms.  You can tell right away when the students are talking about something in the real world, that there might be a parental influence there.  

I hope you enjoy January’s The Craziest Things: Complain, Complain, Complain.

Friday Two Cents: Small Contributions Bring Great Rewards

I had the opportunity to be part of a class’s expiration into the print media.  The regular teacher was doing an activity with the students on creating their own newspaper.  They would be creating the articles for the paper and a parent would be putting it together for them.  Yet the teacher asked me to create something unique for the paper.  She asked me to create a comic that highlighted the creative process the students went though to create their articles.  

I was flattered and I agreed right away.  It would be a great opportunity for me to help the students’ learning and to create an original art piece for the students to enjoy.  I told the teacher I could create a different comic for each stage of the process with a little humour thrown in.  

Below are the four stages the students went through …

Students working on together to create their interview questions.

The students interviewing a person. 

The students on a computer typing out their article from the information thy gathered in the interview.  

Finally the students reading their finished articles int he newspaper that they helped to create.

Once I got the four stages I went about creating a little comic for each.  I decided to create two students that I would use for each stage.  I started thinking like the students and how they would feel and from what I have observed, how would they react to the assignment.  After that, the words and characters came to life on the paper.  The teacher and parent volunteer loved them and were grateful for the creative and funny addition to the students work.  As well as the students.  I told them I was flattered to be asked and to help the students in their expiration and learning, even in a small way.  

You can see the final comics below.  

That’s what I love about teaching.  No matter how small your contribution is to the students learning, the greater the positive rewards are for all involved.  Even for me.  

Friday Two Cents: Giving Some Joy

Well the Christmas season is upon us.  For me that means decorating for Christmas at my home but there is one thing that I love to set up outside my home. No I am not talking about my outdoor light, which I do anyways.  I am talking about my Christmas Town and Train.  Yet at a public school it is a bit harder to show my Christmas spirit because we have to be sensitive to other cultures and be politically correct.

I hand-made and painted my Christmas Town & Train. It took me over 10 years to collect, paint and create a 19th century Dickens style town. That’s right no cars only horse and buggy, a blacksmith, shops, many Victorian homes, a steam train and of course I have a castle. 

Yet for some reason this year I had no desire to put out the town.  I cannot put my finger on exactly why I do not feel like putting it out.  Perhaps it is a combination of several things.  The constant labour dispute happening with the government.  The fact that I am still looking for a permanent position while others complain while working a full time position. The rampant selfishness of the students and adults in the schools I go into.  Thinking only about doing things for themselves without thinking of others.  Everyday I see this and it puts a damper on everything and I feel like nothing is getting better.  So when it came to my Christmas Town & Train I thought, “Why should I put this out for people who only care for themselves.  What joy do I get out of it? Just a lot of hard work that no one appreciates.”  That thought stayed with me for a few moments and then I thought of the joy it gives people when they do see it and those thoughts go away.  

So this past week I did mount my Christmas Town and Train and of course the reactions of everyone who saw it was joyous.  The students love the train and town and many said that they look forward to it.  The same can be said of the adults.  And with those happy comments the feeling of melancholy was wiped away with some simple smiles on the side.  

I have to remember that the Christmas Town and Train is not about how I feel during this time of year but me giving some joy and happiness to others. 

This year I added some new touches to the town but they are not in these pictures. They are still being built and painted but I will let you see them soon.

Happy Christmas.   

Comic Strips: The Policy

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  


The “Me Too” moment came out of the entertainment industry and has grown to span the globe.  Its effects can be felt in different fields and why not in the professional sports fields such as the National Hockey League. Students today are inundated with information on every media outlet there is on the ongoing developments.  Entertainment, politics and now sports.  How far will their minds push this movement and belief.    

I hope you enjoy December’s The Craziest Things: The Policy.

Friday Two Cents: Smarter Than Adults Give Them Credit For

This week I was supplying in a school where the teacher asked me to do an art lesson with their class.  The teacher knew of my artistic background and asked if I could teach their students to draw a self portrait.  I said sure and that it would go well with the math lesson on shapes and attributes I would be teaching them earlier in the day.  

The day went well and the students were very excited for the art lesson. I told them that they would be drawing faces in the style used by comic books like Marvel, DC and also by Disney to create their characters’.  They are grade 3s so I went through the steps of creating a face using shapes for each part.  Large circle for the skull and small for the pupils.  Ovals for the jaw and eyes as well as a triangle for the nose.  I also showed them the lines of symmetry in the face to help them place the different elements onto the face.  

During the lesson the students were asking me all sorts of questions.  Mostly about the different comic book characters.  “How would you make Captain America’s helmet?”  “How do you draw Belle’s hair?”  Additionally, I mentioned that they could also create their own cartoon character like Pokemon, or others like Bugs Bunny using the same technique.  That was when many in the class looked confused and did not know who I was talking about.  I mentioned, and showed images on the computer of other Loonie Tunes characters.  

They said that they knew who I was talking about but many said that they could not see them because their parents would not let them see it.  I asked why and they said that they were too violent.  I could see their point, the coyote blowing stuff up, falling off a cliff or or shooting a duck in the face.  Some of them did see those cartoons and I asked them “You know that those cartoons right?”  They said oh yes, that it wasn’t real.  So after that I moved on with the lesson.  

The rest of the day was fantastic and I dismissed the students at the end of the day.  Yet I could not help but think about what the students said about the cartoons.  It wasn’t the fact that many did not know the cartoons but the fact that their parents did not let them see them because they thought that they were too violent; and yet the fact that the students knew that these were just cartoons, not real.  

I remember seeing these cartoons when I was younger and I remember knowing that they were just cartoons, not real.  Many of the parents today were like me growing up with these cartoons but I do not remember anyone placing dynamite under someones chair or building a canon so they can be shot out of it.  We knew it was not real.  So what happened?  Did they grow up and all of a sudden they think their children aren’t smart enough to know that what they see on tv, YouTube and in movies are not real?  

No.  I think children are as smart as before.  Perhaps the parents want to shelter their children from these images.  Perhaps they think these cartoons will influence them in a negative way.  Parents, I’ll let you in on a secret.  If you did not think these cartoons are real I think you can trust your children to know this too.  Children are a lot smarter than many adults give them credit for.  It was the same thing when I was a kid and now I can see it in the students I teach.  

Parents think they know best and in most cases they are right.  But once in a while trust your children, give them some freedom to express themselves.  They can surprise you.  All they need is for you to believe they can make the right choices.  Heck we did.  

Comic Strips: I Can’t Wait

 Being a supply teacher and an artist, I sometimes have the opportunity to combine my passions.  Creating my comic strip entitled The Craziest Things is one of them.  The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I have observed from the students.  I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.  

. . .

These days the students are very aware of their place in the world.  With the internet, global issues such as climate change and pollution are things that they know more about than previous generations.  Yet for all their knowledge and limitless information they turn out to be as human as any child at their age from any generation. 

  I hope you enjoy November’s The Craziest Things: I Can’t Wait.

Friday Two Cents: Washing Off My Soul

 ‘When you create art, the world has to wait.’ Will Smith

This past week was a rather busy one for me, working with several hundred students as a music, literacy, drama and kindergarten teacher.  I love being with all the students yet I find myself mentally and physically exhausted.  I sometimes have to remind myself that as a supply teacher, unlike a classroom teacher, I have to deal with several hundred different children over the span of a week.  A classroom teacher interacts and deals with 20 – 35 students daily, where I sometimes have to interact with 18 – 20 different classes averaging 25 students each.  That’s 500 different people all with their own unique personalities.  When you think about it from that point of view, you can begin to understand why there are times I find myself day-dreaming of going away on a vacation.  

Lately though, I have been thinking of vacations where the soul purpose is to express myself artistically.  I find that I need to have that calming presence of art to relax me.  I don’t think anyone will ever understand the joy I take in creating things with paints and pencils.  To have a blank piece of paper or canvas transform into a comic book character, a medieval battle or a ballerina. 

For me I simply think of something in my imagination and I put pencil to paper or paint to canvas.  It could take me hours, days or weeks but doing the art is what gives me joy.  I think more than anything else that is what I enjoy the most.  Not the finished product but the process or challenge of creating it.  This is what allows me to let go of the world around me and create new ones.  

So for now I will push through and prepare for the vacation I will be going on soon.  For as Pablo Picasso once said …

‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’ Pablo Picasso 

I think I have collected enough dust on my soul.  

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