I am a really lucky Mad-Art Teacher. Even though this is SUCH a difficult time of the year for me: I have some of my favorite seniors ever graduating, my rooms look like a bomb has gone off in them, I'm always behind in my grading...... I still get little gifts from kids. Most of the little gifts are not physical gifts. However, today, I was blessed with a gift of stones.
I had Kindergarten first down in the "Elemental school" as I call it..... the HS students think that is a hilarious thing to say, and then they ask what I call the HS! hehehe. They are called the "Dark Side", and they are not so sure they like that, but it is fitting, believe me. :) Anyway, I digress, I had Kinders first thing and we made these cutout dandelion things on light blue paper. Like a Dandelion portrait! I lined them up and took them outside to "find a dandelion" so they had something to look at while I showed them how to cut up yellow squares to make a three dimensional dandelion. Seemed like a great idea, I've done this before! So while out there, for the first time in about 15 years of doing this lesson, there were actually TWO kids who swore they couldn't find one!!! SERIOUSLY????? So we took a little stroll, oh, I don't know, about 2 inches away from where they were standing and found a badillion of them. I don't know if they thought they were looking for one that had a little halo of light around it, or a pot of gold near it, or just wanted someone to pick it for them, or what all.
Anyway, things went south pretty quickly and there was a lot of neediness and other normal kindergarten behaviors, and they did not get their dandelions done- which is fine, they can finish next week.
I was walking around the room, telling them what a great job they were doing cutting their squares into circles (they have made great strides in their small motor abilities this year!), and looking at their progress. A sweet little boy looks up at me and says that he has something for me. "I have some stones!" Oh, ok. He digs around in his little pocket, looking at me with some HUGE, liquid, brown eyes that can melt my heart in an instant. He is one of our Micronesian children and to say that they are gorgeous is the biggest understatement of the year. AND those kids are amazing artists, they have a very strong tradition of drawing and it shows. At least the ones in Park Falls do! So, he says, "I brought them for you!"
Oh wow. I took them and he has the biggest smile ever. He is a shy child, so this was a pretty neat event for me. I gladly took them, thanked him profusely, and put them on my desk which is where they were when I took a quick photo of them. This little gift of rocks makes me happy! It represents a lot of things- mostly though that I have a connection, and a trust, with my student that is a joyful thing.
I have been getting a lot of intangible gifts lately, lots and lots of little kid leg hugs, children YELLING my name across the cafeteria, multiple stories in the hallway and lots of "when do we have art?" And my High School kids give me gifts, also, just a little less loudly!
I am fortunate to teach a subject matter in a way that is so different than what any other person in the district does, or at least few others. I grade them on their creations that come from their own personal expression and ideas, not he reproduction of facts on a paper, or writing, or the juggling of numbers. I evaluate them on their efforts, their vision, their ability to learn new ways of thinking and seeing. It can be very painful for some of the kids to make their art, it often lays open some raw emotions that are hard to examine. And it is all based on a foundation of trust in me. They trust that I won't belittle them, that I will help them find a good way to show the picture that is in their head, that I won't betray the words that are so often spoken in the art room atmosphere, which is unlike any other room. I have been getting the words- You are my favorite teacher, Mrs. O- a lot lately. It is a selfish pleasure, but I take those gifts and tuck them away in my soul. It gets me through this really hard time of the year!
The trust starts when my kiddos are little. The beginning of this trust is shown with a little gift of stones!
May you get a little joyful gift today!