Staying Resilient (Ep. 179)

In today’s episode, guest host Sarah Krajewski welcomes on Caitlyn Thompson to discuss perseverance and how we can stay resilient through the end of this very challenging school year. Listen as they talk about how they deal with loneliness and negativity, how they draw positivity from their students, and how we can be successful through the end of the school year. Full Episode Transcript Below.

Resources and Links


Sarah: Hello, everyone. This is Sarah Krajewski. As you probably heard last week, Nic has decided to take a couple weeks away from the podcast. We are thinking of her and wishing her all the best right now in what is obviously a very difficult time. After all, we are first and foremost humans. Yes, not just art teachers but humans first. So, Nic, we want to send you love to you and your family. In the meantime, Nic has given me the opportunity to host the podcast for a couple of weeks in her absence and I’m really excited to be here with you all.

Just so you know a little bit more about me. I am an elementary art teacher in Wisconsin and have been teaching for 10 years. I also have had a few roles with the Art of Education University team including being a writer for about a year and a half. I also have created some PRO Learning Packs and been a conference presenter and currently, I host the weekly Instagram live chats on our art event Instagram page. So that happens every Monday in the evening and I host artists such as Jason Naylor, children’s book author, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and other amazing art educators. So if you want to learn more about what’s happening on Monday on Instagram, go ahead and check out @theartofed and you can see any of our past saved Instagram chats to IGTV.

Also in today’s episode, I’m really excited to be talking to one of my good friends, Caitlyn Thompson, who is an elementary art teacher in Natick, Massachusetts, where she teaches kindergarten through fourth-grade students primarily, and this year all virtual. So I am teaching in-person and hybrid. So that’s the model I know and she’s teaching one that’s very different. So we’re talking about today, how you can push through what your model looks like and about how you can make that resiliency look extremely cool. So I’m excited to have this conversation with Caitlyn because we’re all getting a little bit tired and it’s nice to get that reminder that we can build that perseverance, just like working out a muscle. So with all of that being said, let’s dive right in. I’m Sarah Krajewski and this is Everyday Art Room.

Hello. Hello. Caitlyn Thompson. I’m super psyched to host you today for Everyday Art Room. We’re going to be talking a little bit about how we need to push through the end of the school year because as we know this can get very draining. So Caitlyn, can you just tell us a little bit about how you’re actually doing your school year this year? What is your teaching model, and then also, what are you doing to develop your process of virtual teaching?

Caitlyn: Oof, so many different things. First of all, thank you for having me here. I can’t wait to chat with you. I, to start, am in the hybrid model and I have been for the entire school year. So the way that works at my school is that we have a two-week cycle. Half of the students come in during one week and the other half are at home and then they swap and do the same thing. So I teach the same curriculum essentially twice. So it’s one week same, one week same, but it’s two different groups of students.

Sarah: Sure, sure.

Caitlyn: Follow me so far?

Sarah: Yes.

Caitlyn: Okay. So knowing that was going to be the situation we knew that far, far early in the summer, so that has naturally created a lot of anxiety. So if you want to know about my adventurous process, let’s first start by saying last summer was a hot mess of anxiety.

Sarah: I think we were all probably there just buckling up for just whatever the year was going to throw at us. It was like, what are we expecting? I don’t know what it’s going to look like. Right?

Caitlyn: Well, because from the residual worry from the spring was we lost so much. There was so much to be mourned. So many experiences, so many projects that were just relationships that were cut short and so what happened to me, I started thinking about what’s going to be different everything I can’t do, supplies that may not come, what if the kids hate art? So all of these are bubbling to the surface, lost sleep. It was no good, but there came a point where I was like, okay, I kind of have to give myself the Coach T talk. Like, what would I say if a student, if a kiddo was feeling the feelings that I’m feeling, which I’m sure they were. So I just have to give myself that sort of all right, stop. What is being upset helping? How is it helping? It’s not helping. So what I did is as the year really closed in and I was like, I’ve just got to focus on the things I can control. I know you’re familiar with the circle of control.

Sarah: I am. You’re feeding me my own medicine, my friend.

Caitlyn: Right. But I was just like as I got excited to see the kids, I was like, you know what? I can’t control anything in this scenario except my attitude and if I come back with a really positive attitude and I am larger than life for those little babies, they’re going to feel it. You know what? They need it and you know, who needs it? I need it. I needed that more. So what happened was I decided to just let it go. So tips and tricks for starting your hybrid teaching when you’re on a computer. Oh, I forgot to mention that part. I teach the kids who are remotely at home, which means I go to school, I set up my computer and I stand in an empty classroom and teach to about 25 kids on average at a time on-screen everybody’s muted. They can unmute because it’s Google Meet, but I’m alone in my art room so that’s a lot. So I had to be like, all right, I really have to be the crazy person behind the camera who’s really, really giving all the energy. Right? So first step, let it go. Like Elsa on that hill swinging them hips, let it go. Let your worries go. They’re not going to help you.

I had to get real rational real quick and I feel like one thing that I just started carrying with me is something my yoga teacher would talk about all summer. I’m going to get some real woo-woo on you here was about being present in the moment you’re in. I can’t worry about last spring because last spring is over. I can’t worry about what we’re not going to get to do because it hasn’t happened yet. So it’s balancing that weird space between here I am. This is the only space I am in unless somebody else has a teleportation device or time travel. This moment is the only one I’m in. It sounds super woo-woo, but it really helped me just be like, just be here, be here for them. Be strong for them because again, they need it and I need it. So that’s step one.

Sarah: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like that’s all you need though because realistically, that’s exactly what they need. That’s the thing you’re focusing on, mainly for your students is about being there for them is what I’m picking up from that too and I love that you’re pulling it back a little bit too, because sometimes those kids that’ll ask, you’re teaching them how to paint, you’re teaching them how to draw. And they’re like, what happens if I go outside my lines or what happens if I can’t figure out what colors to use? They have all these, what happens if questions but it’s like, well, we don’t have to worry about that unless it happens. We’ll problem solve it when it comes to be. So teaching yourself to ask those same questions or to, I guess not ask those questions makes it so that we are practicing what we preach to our students.

Caitlyn: Which is really hard to do because especially with me, I’m a very organized person. So my step one is let it go. Step two is get organized.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely.

Caitlyn: And because lessons usually take what weeks to finish, right?

Sarah: Yes.

Caitlyn: I can’t take a break between lessons. So what I would do, I see each class twice a week and then I don’t see them for another week and a half. So any momentum is lost. So I have to keep it going within that week. So my whole lesson structure of doing a four-part lesson, out the window. So what I did is I made this… I mean, I got real creative in Google Sheets and made a lesson map grid that had every grade color-coded, of course.

Sarah: Naturally.

Caitlyn: Dates are there and then what you can do is you can see the progression of your lessons in the entire grid. It’s like Sherlock looking into his mind palace, for those of you who watch Sherlock–the Benedict Cumberbatch version, obviously.

Sarah: Yes, of course.

Caitlyn: Right. So that was really helpful because I’m visual. I need to see the larger picture. Can I get a lesson progression that makes sense with the elements, the principles, the standards, and what are the standards? How can we not lower them but shift them? Shift our standards, shift our expectations. I don’t like using the word lower because… Shift not lower, it’s different. It’s not better or worse, it’s different.

Sarah: I mean, you’re speaking my language because sometimes we put those expectations and we put kind of what we know we’ve done in the past on ourselves, but that’s not really always necessary and it’s all about reframing, right? It’s not like we’re doing less for our students we’re just honing in our skills, refocusing, reframing what we’re doing to really just give them the basics of what is important. So let me just ask you a little bit Caitlyn about how you teach and what you find to be most important for your students. How would you describe just briefly what your teaching philosophy is and then is that at all connected to why your students call you Coach T? Because I think there’s kind of an interesting way that you treat your students that might be evident in your teaching philosophy. So tell us just a little bit about that.

Caitlyn: Yes, indeed. Well, my teaching philosophy sort of it’s at least this year, especially too, it’s not about the process. It’s not even about the product. It’s about connection and trust and making resiliency look extremely cool.

Sarah: Oh my gosh I love that!

Caitlyn: Yeah. Right. So my mission really what’s my mission statement, it’s like something like coaching in a classroom of confidence, individuality and perseverance. You know what I mean? That’s where it comes from. We always talk about building our art muscles because I do not believe I can teach anybody to be an artist. Everybody is an artist in their own way, whether it’s driving the streets of Boston or Providence, terrible driving, my goodness gracious. Whether it’s folding laundry, cooking. Whether it is your athletic endeavor of choice, whether it’s an actual art form of singing, performing, visual arts, there’s so much of the creative process, but what needs to be addressed most is being unafraid to try something new. What my main mission this year and my teaching philosophy this year, it’s all about the growth mindset and letting them know you are way more capable and competent and strong than even, you know and if you have the tools in your toolbox to manage your mistakes, you’re going to be fine because you’re going to make mistakes. That’s what I like to say. I’m like, mistakes are going to happen. You don’t want to be… What’s that line? A good artist doesn’t make mistakes a great artist knows how to fix them.

Sarah: Yeah. Essentially, editing through and problem-solving as an artist.

Caitlyn: Yeah. And you’ve got to pivot and if they’re freaking out, you’ve got to be there to be like, it’s okay. We can take a break. I talk a lot because really what we’re focusing on this year, it’s like drawing with Coach T not art with Coach T because all my supplies got canceled, they never came. Next week. I’m on vacation right now. Next week, the watercolors have finally arrived. That’s what we’re starting but I ordered these back in August. So this will be a huge deal and is it terrifying? Of course, water near a computer, I’ll get some really angry parents if those goes awry. You know what I’m saying?

But really I think that what I want to be for my kiddos is a beacon of support of positivity, but also honesty. What I cherish most in my classroom is my ability to forge these really honest and authentic relationships with my students. Because if I’m there to Coach Them through those hard moments, they’re going to be able to coach somebody else through and maybe use what they’ve applied in a future scenario. That’s my dream. Use, whatever I have taught you about being resilient about being unafraid. Don’t look over your shoulder at somebody else’s project. Your practice is your practice. It’s nobody else’s and we’re not comparing each other to each other. We’re comparing our progress to ourselves. You know what I mean? It gets real. I mean, it sounds, again, I go back to the woo-woo, but I mean it, and they know it.

Even me being a personally injured human being with my back last year, I talk about this in my class all the time. I’m like, remember, last year when I couldn’t walk and you guys had to get everything for me in the art room and I was so sad and so weak and they’re like, “Yeah, you were walking really funny, Coach T.” And I’m like, “I know.” But now we talk about, “Hey guys, can I tell you that I just made some really cool lifts and they’re really heavy and I’m back to pre-injury weights?” Half of them don’t know what I’m saying, but half of them were like, “That’s so cool because I remember you said you were never going to be able to do that again and that’s really cool.” I’m like, “Yeah!”

Sarah: They’re celebrating your successes just like you celebrate theirs.

Caitlyn: Yeah. Be a human. Above all else, that’s what they respond to and then if you’re trusting, if you’ve created that awesome environment where everyone’s willing to share, nobody’s afraid. There’s no such thing as a, pardon me, stupid question. We don’t like to call them. There’s no such thing as one of those, everybody’s on this… I don’t know how to describe it, but this higher plane of like, “We’ve got this.” It’s an encouraging space. I mean, don’t get me wrong. People are freaking out and crying all the time. Let’s be real, we’re human. But the majority of the time we’re doing pretty great and it’s most evident in the kindergartners because I thought they were going to be the ones lost. They’re not going to know me. They’re not going to really get the Coach T experience. They’re rising to the occasion more than I could have ever imagined and it really is magical to see. So I’m rambling, but I’m so proud.

Sarah: No, I love it. I am really honestly really proud of you and all those teachers that are really just kicking butt, getting their virtual teaching, done, getting their in-person teaching done because no matter what it looks like, whether you’re feeling like you’re doing the bare minimum or whatever it is literally showing up and being there for your students is all that we need to do because we’re putting that energy and love towards them at a time that’s really hard. So I think Caitlyn, that is really cool to hear that you’re excited and proud of what both you’re doing and your students are doing because it is important to celebrate and realize the stuff that’s tricky and that you put the energy into creating. So that’s pretty awesome.

Caitlyn: Yeah. Because I can’t change. I can’t change. I can’t change a thing. I can’t do what I wanted to do so I’m just going to do what I can do.

Sarah: Exactly. Why bother fretting about that coloring outside the lines when it hasn’t even happened yet and there’s really nothing to do about it, right? It hurts too much to be concerned about something that won’t be an issue or you can’t control. So that sort of brings me to the next part I wanted to talk about, which is the pros and cons, because sometimes it is hard to get caught up in all that negativity, knowing that things are really hard and those cons start to consume our life. You like that?

Caitlyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). They do.

Sarah: But the cons, they sort of take over what we’re doing and it feels like that’s all we can think about, but there are certainly pros that are coming out of how we’re teaching, how we’re all forced to be resilient, how we’re forced to push through the things that are really hard. So I’m going to just pose this question to you and tell me how you’re both celebrating your pros and how you’re either remedying or coming to terms with or editing your cons because those cons can even be something to help you grow from as well. So how do you celebrate your pros and how do you come to terms with the cons?

Caitlyn: Right. Well, in my weird brain, I want to do the cons first. I want to do the negative first and end on a positive. Right?

Sarah: Me too. I’m always like bad news first. Let me end there.

Caitlyn: Right? Yes. Yes. That’s why I saved the middle part of the sandwich for last. The meatiest part. Unless you’re a crust person, then eat the crust last just best part for last. Anyways, I digress. Cons the first thing that comes to mind is the solitude. I don’t do well by myself and I’m very thankful this year that there’s a pre-K room, right next door to mine. They are the only young humans that I see on my… I can go to my classroom, to my car, to my classroom, to the bathroom, that’s it. So it’s very isolating and I am somebody who really thrives off the energy of others. So being alone in my room and teaching to everybody on mute. But even though they can unmute themselves, I work with Google Meet. I really wish they would make a host control. They could mute all the students for those little nagging on unmuters.

But they’re just excited. So I get it. It’s not the end of the world, but how to remedy feeling so alone. I skip out to bus duty, the happiest human being you have ever seen it is like I have won the lottery every day because I am that excited to see those kids. I name every single one who comes off the bus. I recognize them all, even through masks, which makes me feel really good and just saying all their names. Hello, Lou. Good morning, Maya. Hello, Grace, love those glasses. You know what I mean? Just being there and then if I have any prep time like when they eat snack outside, when it was warm enough to eat outside I would go outside and just during a prep time and just sort of walk by and be like, “Hey, it’s me. I exist outside the computer. I have legs. Look at my cool socks. What kind of snack are you eating? Hmm, popcorn my favorite.”

So it’s just making the time to peek inside other classrooms or even what I find really fun is I’ve started asking people… One little thing I do with some students is if I know their birthday, what I do is this is the only reason I have Snapchat and for some reason, this helps with my solitude. I will find out their birthday and I will record myself, singing them happy birthday in a really high-pitched helium voice. I’ll email it to their parents for their birthday and it’s just a riot, but for some reason, and then I get a message back and it’s really, really sweet. I’ve had fourth graders start to email me through Google Docs because their emails only work one way.

So if they email me, I can’t email them back. So again, for the solitude, I was like, “You know what, guys, if you know how to form a Google Doc, show me what you’ve been working on or send me a message. I’d be happy to chat with you.” So just find a way to see someone if you are in solitude somehow that’s con number one. I know that was a long-

Sarah: But it’s a legit one. Honestly. That’s probably the biggest one.

Caitlyn: It’s the big one. Yeah.

Sarah: That isolation is no joke, dude.

Caitlyn: No, it’s not, and when I was at home teaching because we went remote for a couple of weeks, fully remote. Everyone did due to a sub shortage and let me tell you not having the little shrieks and squeals of the pre-K kids next door, just silence in the house. It was really, really hard to rev up into the Coach T like, “Hey-ho-hey-hey,” because there’s no bus duty and my cats are not great conversationalists-

Sarah: Do they have white noise of classroom or something that you could just play next door?

Caitlyn: They should. I was thinking about it. I was like, maybe just get recess noise and just put it into a speaker right outside the door. It’s comforting just to hear those voices. It really, really is.

Sarah: Yeah.

Caitlyn: So yeah.

Sarah: Okay. Well that’s obviously a huge con but it sounds like you’re able at least remedy or come to terms with what that looks like and knowing that certainly, it’s not a forever thing helps, but also just any little snippet, those video messages, those hellos to all your kids in the morning, all of that stuff is a reminder that you aren’t in fact alone, even though it might feel like you are.

Caitlyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sarah: Okay, well give us some pros, unless you have more cons?

Caitlyn: The other cons would be you can’t do hand over hand instruction. You can’t have that really private if somebody’s freaking out, you want to give them your private attention where you’re like, “Hey buddy, it’s okay and we can take a break.” But they’re in front of the class so you don’t want to draw attention. So what I do is if I see someone struggling, I’ll privately email a family and say, “Hey, does so-and-so want to meet for a little short, 10 minute meet? And we can have a one-on-one, they can talk to me directly.” I know this is like outside the scope of what contractually we’re supposed to do, but that’s out the window. If I can create a connection and make a child feel better, I don’t care. It’s fine. I’m happy to… Of course, do you know what I mean?

Sarah: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Caitlyn: Then teamwork is kind of out, but so what I do is at the end of class, I leave time like, would anybody like… So we do this at the end of every class. It’s like, “Does anybody have some friendly words, thoughts, compliments for each other or how you felt about the process?” That gives them, like, “I really liked how so-and-so was doing this on their work and I thought this was challenging and I thought that I couldn’t do it but then when I tried, I really did.” I’m like, “Good.” It’s just a little time for some save time for that reflection at the end and then the only other biggest con is that we’re all starting from year one again.

Sarah: Yeah. Oh, for sure.

Caitlyn: That new curriculum, like, oh yeah. But that leads into a pro because we’re creating all these new lessons, think of the giant library of lessons we can call upon whether it’s a sub lesson or if you walk in and you’re like, Ooh, they had an assembly. I’ve got to have a day extra year. That one needs to catch up and that class is behind. Let’s insert that one-day project I did over the pandemic. Bing bada boom.

Sarah: We’re creating sub plans for years is what it is. Right?

Caitlyn: Oh, forever. You know what the biggest pro is, at least for me right now? We’re still creating, we still have our… I thank my lucky stars every day that I still… Art was not cut, music, PE, library, the specials are here in my district and I am very, very, very grateful for that. And being outside of the classroom there’s few to no behavioral problems and again, tons of YouTube tutorials. It’s just clutch. Let me just say, I’m sorry. I’m just getting into it.

Sarah: Get it girl!

Caitlyn: I love reading stories through my podcast. Mike, Sarah, let me tell you-

Sarah: It sounds pretty awesome.

Caitlyn: …the different voices. I use different accents. Oh my goodness. Oh, it’s so much fun.

Sarah: You need to just record them so that you can just play them during work time in your classroom or when you go back or over the… I mean, yes.

Caitlyn: Girl, you know, that’s on my summer to-do list because obviously, I have a summer to-do list already.

Sarah: Yes, completely. You got to just start strong and make that list 20 pages long so you can do a solid three things and by you I mean me.

Caitlyn: Yes. Honestly, anybody and if anybody listening wants to see a snapshot of my lists or my lesson grids, I am happy to help folks fall in love with making lists because I think it just really helps you push through when you need to.

Sarah: Well, you know what? Speaking out about list-making I wanted to chat with you a little bit about what it looks like because you are really good at organization. I think you have a good grasp on what organization looks like for teaching, but also just sort of reflecting and using it as mental health for yourself. So you and I have chatted just a little bit about doing bullet journaling and using that as a way to both use your actual artistic ability, but also use it towards something productive. So we know how hard teaching is, we know how hard life can be. Clearly, there’s things that are really putting stress and strain on us. So can you just tell us what you do to just push through those hard times, refocus your energy towards something that’s productive instead of negative?

Caitlyn: Right, right. Great question. Well, I’ll start with the bullet journaling. Definitely. That is something you introduced me to I don’t even remember when.

Sarah: You ran with it girl though and I’m impressed.

Caitlyn: Yeah. I talked to my sister about this and she’s like, “Oh, of course, you would love bullet journaling. It’s so meticulous.” I was like, “Well, yeah. I mean, I did book arts for two years after undergrad, it’s my jam.” So on top of creating a physical artifact of a book, now I have information to put in and as I was researching how bullet journals work and the freedom you can use to make it your own. I sort of just said, “This is an opportunity for me to get away from my phone for a minute.” Because one of my coping, not coping… Well, maybe coping is the right word, but just setting boundaries and shutting down, getting back into a reflective place as my phone goes on, do not disturb at 6:00 PM until 6:00 AM it’s pretty aggressive.

I don’t get calls, notifications for emails, anything, and then I pull out the bullet journal. My husband and I do this together and his looks nothing like mine and it’s fabulous. That’s what’s great about it is that the way you journal it could be long-term to-do lists. It could be just a goal of everything you want to get done that day, that week, maybe it’s just, and sometimes I go back in and I’m like, ooh, I’m going to create a bullet for something that I’ve already done and then cross it out because it makes me just feel productive and good. Then I can look back and be like, okay, I can drag this little item to the next week. It was just a fun way to do a little doodling.

I find meticulous detailed work, very therapeutic. So measuring out with my itty bitty ruler and discovering the magic of markers, like what? I never thought I would love markers, but oh snap. Those brush tip pens are smooth and velvety. So I find it’s lovely to just write and maybe I have space for two sentences. It’s maybe… Imagine a little two-by-three business card. It’s not much bigger than that and I write very, very tiny. So I’ll be like, “Hey, today was awesome, started going, didn’t stop,” or I’ll be like, “pick up retainer at 3:15.” That’s what I did.

Sarah: Right. It’s all business.

Caitlyn: Right. Then I’ll go back and be like, seeing Dr. Lasser was amazing. After 20 years, I still have perfect teeth. Yay me. It just made me feel good to write that down. But if it’s another day where I’m like, all right, prep for X, Y, Z, get lessons ready. Then it’s more of the traditional to-do list versus diary, but it goes both ways. But I find it’s just really nice to stop, mute the TV, the phone is away. I’m going to write down and think about what was the most important thing today that I’m happy about and I’m going to write that down or if something bugged me, I’ll write that too but I like keeping it as positive as I can.

So when I do go back and look at this, I’ll be like, “Hey, look at all those things. Those were good times.” I’m sure there were hard times and I print out little pictures each month and I put those in a separate part. So I have a little snapshot literally of what I do, but I just think it’s really fulfilling and reflective because you got to take breaks. You have to give yourself grace. This whole thing has really… There’s no good words for it. It’s been really hard. That’s what I’ll say.

Sarah: Yes. Yes. Thank you for-

Caitlyn: Yep. So I mean, beyond reflection, my biggest thing is of course I’m a big… Obviously, I’m into coach, my little private nickname of those who are nearest and dearest, and now everybody listening here. I am a gentle beefcake. I love building muscle. I use every weightlifting analogy I can with my students and it works, it hooks them. So finding a spot to be physically active, whether it’s stretching, foam rolling, doing yoga, take a walk. Obviously, I’m a fan of the strength training, something to get that physicality, that physical part of movement, get moving. That’s what I’m trying to say. You know-

Sarah: You’re just trying to put it in this beautiful little package-

Caitlyn: I did but we know I’m a bad package wrapper. You know me. I’m terrible at wrapping. As the most meticulous bookbinder and detailed oriented person. I am the worst gift wrapper in the world.

Sarah: You just find what works for you. It’s perfect.

Caitlyn: I put my efforts elsewhere, but again, ask for help, ask for a hug, talk to someone, don’t keep it inside. Say, “I’m anxious. Today was the worst.” Be were like, “Let’s get it out.” Get it out of your body and then refuel your body by doing a jumping jack and asking somebody for a hug or snuggling with your cat, your dog, your lizard. One of my students has a lizard named Bob. She got stuck in a vent. It was an adventure, but Bob is okay.

Sarah: Oh my gosh, that’s so dramatic and I love it.

Caitlyn: It was a lot. But remember again, I go back to a yoga teacher. She talks about the best example to use is when you’re hungry. I am hungry. Well, you’re not defined by your hunger. You aren’t hunger. You have hunger. You’re feeling hungry, but that doesn’t define you. So if you have anxieties, but that’s not what defines you and it doesn’t have to last. The best way for me is to talk about it, get it out. Again, get moving, pay your body back, pay your brain back with those movements and just take care of you. You got to take care of you to take care of them and they need us and we need them.

Sarah: Completely, completely and just to piggyback off that a little bit too. I know so many teachers, but parents and people and anybody we’re getting to that point where, and I feel like this happened months ago, but getting to that point where it just feels like, okay, I’m over this. I’m done with it. I’m over it. I thought I had patience but I don’t and I just need it to end. But I think that pushing through that and persevering is really giving us that sort of cool resiliency like you’re reminding us of, but that it is essentially teaching us that we can do it.

Caitlyn: Yeah. Thing is, we’re only halfway through. We’re only halfway. We’re a little over halfway through in my end. The kids have started to get real comfortable. So going into the next half of the year, it’s like, “All right, what can you change up? Is it your outfit? Is it introducing silly hat day? Silly hairdo day? What can you do to amp them up and keep them distracted from the fact that this has been really monotonous?” That’s what we have to hide. I’ve been drawing and reading. I’m like, “All right, what else can we do?”

Sarah: But honestly, does it not make you sort of get out of your monotony as well? That’s what it is, is making it so that you can in fact be successful for them. But in turn, you’re making it more interesting. It just becomes a better place for everybody. Because-

Caitlyn: You have to. You have to keep going.

Sarah: It doesn’t have to be terrible. We’re just going to persevere and push and make it the best we can. So Caitlyn, I know we could talk forever, but I do want you to just share with us before you tell us about where people can find you on social media and whatever else you want to share. Can you just give us a little parting advice about as we gear up for our final push through those remaining months of a very strange year, just give us a little bit of parting advice as far as how you plan to move forward and what we should sort of think about.

Caitlyn: Parting advice. Oh, what pressure.

Sarah: Better be wise. Just kidding.

Caitlyn: Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s where the most growth happens and you know what? Sprint through the finish line. Cut that ribbon. Don’t look back, outrun the bear. That’s what I’ll say. Yeah.

Sarah: Outrun the bear, man, I want that on a big… I want it painted on my wall let’s be honest.

Caitlyn: Out run the bear. I want that T-shirt. Yo, let’s get started. Let’s make that T-shirt happen, outrun the bear. Because don’t jog up to the finish line. You’re out of breath. You’re going to be out of breath no matter what. Cross that line-

Sarah: Yeah. Go right from busting and running. Yeah.

Caitlyn: Honestly, reach out to friends, talk to people. Again when you say you can find me on social media, talk to me, I’m happy to chat on my messages. You know what I mean? We’re here for each other. I’m not shy about sharing lessons. It was free for all to use. I don’t care. Adapt them. I want to see. Be a community here because it’s not about us. It’s about them. I believe in all of my energy has been focused on the 410 kids that I teach over a period of two weeks and the day we can get back in the art room and they still feel like they know Coach T. They know and I know them, even though they all might be a foot taller and I’ll be like, oh stop growing.

Sarah: Right. Completely, completely, and trying to set up that vibe so that they can know you in whatever context that looks like no matter what. I think that’s got to be the goal. That’s got to be the main focus this year and sort of pushing through that. Caitlyn, I’m so excited to see how you end the rest of your year. It’s going to be super awesome. Can you just tell people real quick where they can find you on the Instagram or YouTube or wherever else they can find you if they want to know more?

Caitlyn: I am Art With Coach T on Instagram and YouTube is I think it’s Art with Coach T Caitlyn Thompson because it’s through my work. So that’s my name? Caitlyn Thompson, C-A-I-T-L-Y-N. Please don’t ever call me Katie. That is only for my father. Yep.

Sarah: Got it. What about gentle beefcake is that acceptable?

Caitlyn: Y’all can call me GB. That’s cool. That’s CT or GB. I’ll go for yo, what’s up beefcake? Next conference we’re going to be at, everyone’s just going to be like beefcake and I’m going to be like cake and beef. I feel like Joey from Friends. Remember that episode with the Shepherd’s pie.

Sarah: Of course.

Caitlyn: Beef. Good. Cake. Yes.

Sarah: Oh God. Way to end on a positive note with a Friends reference. That’s so good.

Caitlyn: Thank you so so much for having me. It’s always great chatting with you, my friend.

Sarah: Absolutely. My friends be sure to give Caitlyn a follow and go check out what she’s up to a rock in the virtual world and the rest of you I will chat with you later.

What an amazing conversation. Thank you so much to Coach T for taking the time to talk to me today. Every time I chat with Caitlyn, I leave with a few more tips, tricks, motivation, overall energy to succeed, and of course, a bunch of laughs. I also wanted to extend a huge thank you to Nic Hahn for allowing me to host the show this week. It was a great experience and I’m so excited to do it again next week. So I hope you’ll join me. Keep persevering my friends and remember to keep showing up exactly where you are by being resilient for your students and making resiliency look extremely cool. We’ll see you next week.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.