Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wednesday warm and fuzzy.

Sometimes in the art role I don't get the feeling that I'm affecting any change or that I'm inspiring children. Art is one of those subjects that most kids like because it's a release and because they finally get to do something creative and fun. It's not about drumming it in until you get it right. When you teach in the classroom you see development and gradual changes in their learning throughout the year. That is probably the thing I miss most about the classroom role. Last year was especially amazing. I won't ever forget that moment little R finally wrote his first sentence. I almost cried when I read it: "On the weekend I went in the spa with mum and dad and played piggy in the middle". His little face was so proud looking up and me and I just grabbed him and was all excited like he'd won lotto or something. I can't even begin to express that it was such a hard slog for a long time for him finally to do that. He'd gone from writing random backwards letters across the page to a full sentence. I suppose that doesn't really mean much to a non teacher but when you start the year with 23 odd kids who do not know what a letter is, or a word, or how to write their name - then it's such an achievement to finally write something and for those children who struggle behind the others, watching from the sidelines while their classmates find their feet - it's like climbing Everest. It is like winning the lotto actually.

Then there was the moment a few years ago that D finally answered to his name when I called the roll. He hadn't said anything for the whole year despite encouragement, prompting, therapy and his last teacher never had a conversation with him for the whole year and then finally out it came "I'm here". The whole class started clapping and cheering. Gradually he developed the confidence to come and tell me little whispered stories about his day and now he talks - not like the others, but he's getting there. I know I was the perfect teacher for him, because I don't get frustrated with children like that - I really put my heart into getting their needs sorted. But, anyway that moment was just the best too.

There was also the triumph two years ago when despite advice to the contrary I gave the silliest, most unreliable. low self confidence baby in the grade the lead role of Austin Powers Santa (long story) in our Christmas play. He totally rose to the occasion and stole the show with his "oh behave". I had so many parents come and tell me how much they enjoyed watching him and after that T's self confidence grew and he really started to knuckle down in class as well. I saw a twinkle in his eye that the other teachers didn't see and so I gave him: a chance and some support so that he didn't give up on himself. I've had lots of little moments like that, that make teaching worthwhile but not so much in art.

I've had lots of personal achievements in art. Parents come and tell me how much they enjoy seeing the new displays and how excited their children are about coming to art every week and how they're more inclined to keep their children's art work this year. I've had a lot of professional achievements too - like the mural project and the movie project. Prin has been especially happy and I've learnt to manage and coordinate a whole school program on my own. All commendable and all good things. But it's not the same.

Yesterday as I was staring at a cupboard trying to visualise what I wanted to do to it to make it look prettier (what paint can you use on a metal cupboard? Do you have to prime it?). When I was interrupted by a group of girls in grade 4. The ringleader told me that our lessons on wire construction had inspired her to take it up at home. I remembered her work and how much she struggled with getting the beads through the wire and how difficult it was for her to bend and manipulate the wire into exactly what she wanted it to do. She pulled out this absolutely goregous piece of wire work - intricate and delicate - and original. She looked so proud of herself and I almost didn't know what to say. She confirmed that she had done this by herself and that she was going to start making more things and developing her own little range of work. She was absolutely shinning with happiness.

I'm going to go ahead and add that one to my little list: My first art warm and fuzzy.