What’s in a name?

I have over 2,000 students (not including teachers who are also, technically, my students) spread out over three schools.  This is a daunting task for many reasons, but only one of them irks be to the point that I’ll mention it at the start of this blog post:

I can’t remember that many names.

Oh, I’ll make valiant attempt.  There’s a handful of students whom I do know by name, but there’s just no way I can learn who everyone is when I see them so rarely.

They do know mine though … well, most of them.  To some of my students I’m “Mr. Smith.”  To others, I’m “The Art Guy.”  At the insistence of some teachers in one of my buildings some call me “Mr. Aaron,” though I’m not too keen on that.

artguy128In any case, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my “Art Guy” moniker.  Originally it was a name given to me by a student, and it sort of stuck.  It smacks of just enough irreverence to make it amusing to me even though some classroom teachers who don’t know me try to correct their students when they hear it.

It’s a great nickname to have when you’re the only art teacher around, or failing that the only one that’s a guy.  For that very reason when I started my first forays into edublogging and podcasting to find there were no other art teachers playing with the same technology that entertained me so much (at least none that I saw…), “theartguy” seemed like a perfect screen name for me.

Art_Guy_Shirt.jpgAnd it has been.  I have found countless friends and joined more Web 2.0 sites than I can remember using that screen name.  It’s how I’m identified by pretty much anyone on the internet who knows me.  My target audience has never been limited to just other art teachers – far from it in fact, because in the beginning it was such a rare occurrence to find one of us blogging.

But times change.  These days I’m far from being the only artsy person out there with a blog/podcast/vidcast/and so on., and I think that’s totally awesome.  When I got started I brought an art teacher’s perspective to these new technologies with which we were playing, because in some cases it was quite different from a [insert any other content area here] teacher’s perspective.

Now, the art teachers that are blogging have their own little corner of the internet to form their Personal Learning Networks.  Networks where they don’t have to start off by saying “As an art teacher…,” because their target audience is other art teachers.  Again, this is awesome.

But it also means I’m not the only “art guy” out there.

If I walk into a room full of 30 students ready for an awesome painting lesson, I have no problem calling myself the Art Guy.  If I walk into a room with a decent percentage of other art teachers … I hesitate.

There is more I want to say, but this post is long enough for now.  Expect another installment later.