I took the leap this week and decided to give my students an opportunity to draw with charcoal. With the plan in my mind the difficulty was implementing a small classroom with up to 15 students. Ugh. I’ve been putting off the messy stuff because that’s what it is, messy. But what I discovered is that the reward was so worth it. It took me twice as long to set up the room, I had to buy wipes, and kleenex, I had to get out three different sets of paper. I had to lug still life objects that would be hard, but not too hard from home to school. And I had to be a nazi about when they could start.
My high schoolers eyes lit up with joy (and fright) at the mess they were about to make. The personalities started to show through. The talented control freak, the joyful learner, the over-thinker hard worker, the fearful and insecure, and the black-sheep that has a little secret (he’s got a style all his own). Faces that came in yawning left after an hour and half with fingers black with work. And I, their teacher felt 18 again, that Art Room feeling, you don’t ever want to leave, “Let’s just make some more stuff!!” Now I know how much stuff costs and I hope we have enough paper for the whole day.
My little class of 3 grade girls chats about the neighbors cats and dogs and talks about the boy, Carter, who is missing from class. These girls are 8 years old and they are sitting around talking about THE BOY. I am in awe. They create beautiful tigerlillies and I sit and listen to their simple joys. One of my highshoolers came in to return something for me and he stops to chat with the little girls and complimented them on their flowers. It’s amazing to watch these little girls melt with crushes over the 17 year old boy who pays them the littlest bit of attention. Again, they’re 8! I say crushes, but really, it’s just that their body language changed and they’re unstoppable chatter became giggly silence once Reid entered. What a trip.
Then there’s my class of 15. I shoo the early birds out so I can make sure I have time to clean up and replace scrap paper. But God gave me grace to let go of the stress and grapple the chaos with joy. After my 3rd graders left, I let a brood of 5th graders bumble in, thankfully they were kind and left their monster bags in the hallway (they’ll be the death of me yet!). I asked them to please not touch the charcoal until we’re ready. They did their exersizes well and I am overcome with hope as I see some of them improve not only their attitude, but their technique! I am learning to love these personalities, and help them understand concepts that are forever old. The charcoal is a hit and they coat their hands with it. Dutifully they return to class after washing hands to get their homework pages. One of the 4th graders stays behind, tardy for Drama and she chats with me and helps me clean up. And what a clean up it was. I am greeted by my two happy children who see the bowl of fruit that the students have been drawing. Eden exclaims, MAMA! MAPPLE! Yes Eden, you can have an apple. Josiah and Eden eat the still life. It was a great day at school.