Class is in Session

My first week of virtual teaching this year went well. I have 285 students this semester alone which is double what I had last year for each semester individually. I was happy to see several of my old students as well as all of the new faces. They were happy to see me too. Just like in “regular class”, they did not want to get off of zoom when class was over. We did have a few hiccups earlier in the week with technology glitches and some parents were frustrated. I understand their frustration, but I also saw that they cared which is what I focused more on while assisting in the best way that I could.

While virtual teaching may be easier to do in terms of classroom management and such, I honestly feel that having class on zoom is low key boring. I miss interacting with my students in person. I miss them all coming up to tell me their stories. I miss telling them to “sit down”, “don’t pour that paint like that”, and my favorite one of all, “I love y’all”. I also can’t help but miss the busyness of the day. do understand that their safety comes first and I am glad that they can be home with their families during this time. Most of them even told me that they like being home because it’s safe, which gave me peace too. Overall, I am still happy that I get to see them, even if it’s just on camera.

The highlight of this week was on yesterday when I had a new student show up late on zoom. He introduced himself and asked if I knew his sister. This has been a common question from new 6th graders that have older siblings that I have taught. I asked his sister’s name and he responded. Of course I knew her, she was one of my favorites. He told me that she said “hey Mrs. Williams.” I smiled and told him to tell her that I said “hello” and that I missed her. He said “she’s right here!” and put the camera on her. I was super happy to see her and we started talking. I thought for a second, connected the dots, and asked her, “Wait?? is this the brother that you told me about?” She said, “Yes maam!” with the biggest smile on her face.

Here is a little backstory behind her big smile. Before the pandemic interrupted our semester, we did a full moon release healing session before we did our last painting. I did this specifically with 8th grade. I told the kids to release anything that had been bothering them by writing it down on paper. I noticed that something was really bothering her, so I went over to talk to her. She told me privately how her brother was in CPS custody and that he was with a family that just wanted the money for him. Her dad was fighting to get custody of him. I encouraged her to process her pain that day and write a poem about it. She did. I told her to visualize her brother living with her and her dad and them being happy. She did. I stood in the gap with her about this and we talked a little more.

On yesterday when I realized that my new student was the brother that she had told me about, I couldn’t do anything but cry tears of joy right in the middle of the zoom. I couldn’t hold the tears back so I had to make them promise not to tell anyone that I cried on zoom. Seeing them back together and happy made my heart smile big. I was glad to know also that she was doing well now that she’s gone on to start high school. She told me that she would peep in on days when her little brother had class with me and that she would do art with us too if she didn’t have class at the time. Another win, because she’s a talented artist and I definitely wished that we would have had our full semester together to create just a little more. Now we will.

This whole experience is and has been more than just teaching art for me. It’s purpose and I’m thankful that I was chosen to do this work. Stories like this are my “why” and they continue to confirm why teaching children how to heal themselves is more than necessary. Check out my latest episode of my podcast, Backpacks and Hairwraps. Episode 4 is about Education Reform and the need for change when it comes to how we educate children. This is by far my favorite episode of this season, listen here.

Also check out my latest YouTube video. I made a welcome video last week for my students “to meet me” and I ended up painting to process the mixed emotions that I had about the way school was starting. Check it here!

I don’t know what is to come of this year but I know that it will all be divine. I’m giving thanks in advance as the magic unfolds. Until next time, peace and love!

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