Switching from a classroom of 28 to 800 students has been a whirlwind, but the most important life lesson I’ve learned is how every interaction I have with a student makes an impact. Every wave, smile, look, and nod is everything in making a student feel nurtured and loved. Just recently, I had a wake up call from an ambitious, hilarious, sweet fourth grader. When there is an upcoming contest, I sort through portfolios, pull top pieces, and students work on their pieces in small groups. The first day A came in, he was ecstatic, “Oh, Ms. Lopez this is the best day of my life! I can’t wait to tell my mom I was picked! You have no idea how much I love art and your class!” Moments like this are what makes a teacher glow, but he was right, I honestly didn’t know how much he loved art because we never had a one on one to chat. It has been a challenge to adjust to so many students and I try my best to learn every name or at least their face. I hand wrote every child’s name on a portfolio. As I walk by I can peek at their name and call them. The smile on their face when I call their name makes me melt, but I know it’s not enough. I got to know A more; we had the same taste in music, movies, and similar family background. He asked me for paper because he didn’t have any at home and needed to show his brothers what he learned. I handed him his first “real” sketchbook. “This is your journal, take notes, draw everyday, and write everyday.” I could see the inspiration brewing through his eyes. The next day, A made me cry; first, he made me feel terrible, then amazing. I want to type this in Spanish, in that, it made a tremendous impact to me in our home language, but this is the translation, “Right you never knew who I was before this? It’s okay, you don’t have to lie, I know you have a lot of kids and I’m only one, but I‘m really happy you saw me. This has been my best week!” Then he comforted me, “I just want to say thank you for teaching me to draw. I never thought I could do work like this until your class. I can’t wait to show my family. They’re going to be so proud of me! Am I really going to be in a show?” I held back tears, “You had it in you, that was all you, I just showed you techniques, that’s all you.” I was speechless. “No, Ms. Lopez, you helped me; I’m so happy.” Then my perfect world bubble burst; another student announced, “I wish someone would kidnap you, so I could go to P.E.” You can't win them all.
Talking and collaborating with others have always been two of my favorite things. Sometimes I teach adults too.
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