Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Flourishing & A Mr. Bingley Apron Moment

     The quote that I picked to go with my "One Little Word" for this year is "The only point is to Flourish and to aid in the flourishing of others." As a teacher I know I sometimes get so caught up in "teaching" my students that I sometimes forget the other all the stuff they have going on in their lives. Now I've been at it for 5 years and I know that I can't "Fix" it all but I can do some. This is one of the reasons that I picked this quote. I didn't just want to focus on my own flourishing but I want to play a part in helping others. Whither it's through a kind word, a small gift, of just letting my students know that I care. I want to see them not only do well in my class, but well in life. It's especially been a rough school year for our little school. We have seen some tragedy and experienced some events this school year that have rocked our little family. A few of my students in my classes are going through rough times and dealing with things that I wish no child should have to experience. Some days I can see the sadness and I know that they are just getting through. I pray for my kids, but I want to do more than just that. I want them to know I care, that I'm there for them, and that it's ok for them to have a bad day, but to not dwell in it. I have shared with a few about my word for the year (yeah, I'm that teacher that sits and chats with my kids while we work). A few have asked me about my bracelet with my word Flourish on it and have shared with them what it was about. Today was a day that I got to put actions to helping one of my students flourish and I have to say it felt good! 

     So for my Birthday my friend made me an awesome apron. I have a nice collection of them that I wear at work (still never fails that I end up with paint or something else on me, apron or not). Here is a picture of my Mr. Bingley apron and the live inspiration for it.
The kids Love it! They of course love Mr. Bingley and love the apron. Oh, the eyes were just little lines at first and the first time I wore it the kids all told me that he was lacking Mr. Bingley's big eyes and that googlie eyes were a must! A kid digging through my supplies found these and they declared that he was truly a Bingley Big Eye look-a-like LOL!!! Man they crack me up!!!

     Anyway, this morning at the beginning of my 2nd hour as I was putting on my apron one of my students was going on about how her morning was so terrible and that her day was going to suck and that her life sucked (yeah, she's a bit dramatic but come on...what kid in High School isn't??) So I was telling her that I was sure it wasn't that bad, that I wish she would have a better day, and I wish there was some way that I could make it better. So I asked her if she wanted to wear the Mr. Bingley apron to cheer her up? Now I kind-of said it off hand thinking she would be like, "Oh, Ms. Latham..." But she looks at me and says, "Really?? I can wear it??" Of course I happily handed it over thinking she was just playing with me. She was so happy and put it right on and wore it the whole class. One of me other students that was in the supply room when this happened later noticed she was wearing it and was like, "What are you doing with Ms. Latham's Mr. Bingley apron on?? Does she know you have it?" To which my now smiling student replied. "Yep, she let me wear it to cheer me up...isn't it awesome!!" It amazes me the little things that can mean something to a High Schooler. Yes, this was a high school kid, but I've learned that they enjoy sometimes the little things almost as much at the little kids. It was even funnier to me when another student in one of my other classes came in to class and said, "I heard you let ____ wear your apron!" 
    I have to say that I've had some really funny/cute/proud moments with my classes so far. One of my students who just lost his mom was working on his project and was sharing with another student how he didn't have his mom to call anymore when he made a good shot in basketball. To which the other student replied, "Man...ya got me, you can call me and tell me about your awesome balling." And I loved that he sat and let his friend talk and was an ear to hear (yes, they were working on projects the whole time). At one point my awesome listener told the student sharing (it was really sad and at one point I had to step into my storage room because I was tearing up), "Man ya choking me up! But I feel ya." I let this kid vent to his friend while working on art because that's what he needed. And I've never been more proud of a student then I was of that kid that sat there and was a friend who was willing to listen.
     These are the reasons kids need art classes. They come to my class and some days its like a cork is unstopped. They let lose of all the energy, talkiness, and stress that they can't in other classes. I feel so blessed to be able to be the class that so many tell me is their "De-stresser class." I realized how much of a responsibility I have to create an environment that allows them to do that when a student made a comment yesterday that really got me thinking about how they view me and my classroom. 
     I'm pretty crazy in class, it's just what works for me. Plus if they think you're a little crazy it tends to keep them on their toes. Anyway, I was floating around my classroom, coffee cup in hand and crazy apron on, laughing and joking and maybe throwing a little shade (Seems my kids say that I'm a master at throwing shade which means to talk trash) when one of my students made this comment. He told me that I enjoyed life way too much and that I was just too happy! He said, "Man you really like your job...oh, and I think you may have a little bit of a chemical imbalance...just saying, no disrespect or anything. Your just kind-of weird, but we like it. And your class always goes by so much faster then my others classes and it's the one class I wish didn't!" 
     Well, let me tell you I pretty much felt like super teacher at that moment. But later, as I was still basking in the glow of the fact that my class was still better loved over those stinking core classes that get all the glory, I realized that I had to keep that. I had to make sure that I kept that fun learning enviroment, that I had a smile on and my craziness (my freak flag flying as my sister says) to brighting their day. 
Just like the girl with the apron today, they sometimes need the fun and zany craziness to cheer them up, or at least make them think, "Wow, I thought my day was nut but this teacher here is crazy and doesn't even know it!" It also got me to thinking about my past student that nominated me for the "You Make a Difference" award that I got from Nicholls State University. The school sent me a copy of the note that the student had submitted to nominate me with and nowhere did she ever mention that it was the Elements or Principles of Art that I taught her, or the way to analyze a painting, or even to paint that made her nominate me. No, it was that I,  "Gave great advice, was a good counselor, had a great personality, awesome teacher, and caregiver." Wow talk about really make you think about what you do in the classroom and how it counts!!

 I hope that I can continue to Flourish and in the process help the students and people that I come in contact with to flourish as well. Remember, we never know what others are going through and how what we do can change that. 

~Till Next Time


Green said...

Another awesome post. You always remind me why I became a teacher and that's getting harder to remember lately. So, thanks for sharing Syl! Our kids are lucky to have you.

syllatham said...

Thanks Green you comment means a lot!