The Impact We Make

It’s the end of the year.  I am packing up my classroom, cleaning sticky goo off glue sticks and throwing unsalvagable ones away.  I am giving portfolio contents to students and asking little children to show their parents their work. I am also asking them to ask their parents to frame at least one piece.  Just one.  That’s not too much to ask, right?

Sometimes I hear stories from my kids about what happens to their artwork when it gets home.  They tell me they don’t want to bring their work home because it just gets thrown away. This breaks my heart.  Students love creating, and they take great care in their work.  I don’t know if it’s cultural or if parents are simply overwhelmed by all the stuff they get from school.  I’m sure a lot of it looks like junk mail after a while.

But for every story that ends with trash can full stop, I have many more in which kids come out the hero of the hour.  Parents have told me their children perform shows for them displaying their work.

I remember one afternoon I had to go to someone’s home to buy something that was advertised in the classifieds.  I walked into this person’s home, and artwork from all three children (who I had taught) was plastered wallpaper style in their kitchen.  I bought my item, left quickly, and broke down crying in the driveway.  I don’t know why.  I just felt so overwhelmed by emotion.  Maybe it’s because everything I did, all my energy, was right there on a stranger’s wall staring back at me; and it gave me validation.

Today one of my students went home and displayed her art in the kitchen.  Then her mother filmed her explaining the work and posted the video on Facebook.  Eight minutes long and I watched the entire thing, simply because I was curious what she’d say.  I caught myself a few times.  “Oh, she didn’t say the right medium for that piece, ” or “she’s not really describing the types of lines she used in that one.”  The teacher in me started analyzing and pondering what I could do for next year.  Should I send home a form for parents to fill out, almost like an end-of-year reflection?  Should I make sure my little ones know the names of the lines (memorization)?

Then I realized I don’t need to do ANYTHING.  Back off inner critic! My kids are great.  They are happy, full of pride, and love their art.  That’s all that matters to me.

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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