Last night, I awakened thinking about my students. Teaching has been rough this year. “In your face” defiance, disruptive behavior, and verbal outbursts occur daily. I understand that many of them suffer from the ill affects of gang violence, foster care, and other challenges; but, knowing this does not make my blood pressure lower. Nevertheless, hopes to provide artistic opportunities found me pondering next week’s dough sculpture day.
Last year, students thoroughly enjoyed this creative project and so I wanted to do the same once again; however, until yesterday, I doubted whether this year’s classes could handle the freedom. Then, several of the most hardened students began to show signs of softening. One who used to yell at me calmly asked to go to the nurse in order to settle down. Another actually opened up and smiled, talked freely, and remained in class (I didn’t have to have her removed by a duty aide).
I know not all battles of the will have been won, but a growing classroom culture of caring is slowly spreading to hardened hearts. So on Wednesday, we will squeeze salt dough between fingers and shape to our hearts’ delight. Those who have never made a craft will giggle and squeal. This opportunity will bond as we exit the regular classroom ritual and pretend we are around a kitchen table. This is “Real World Creativity!” Some of the best that I have discovered in life!