Teachers and Students: I Have Big Heart
What are your thoughts on sharing literature with children?
Did you ever see Billy Bob Jones IV share a student’s entire monologue with class?
THIS IS TOO EXCITING!
When a teacher shares a student’s entire monologue, it’s an emotional night, and the director of this activity ensures that it doesn’t sound like too much too soon.
Instead, she draws attention to the patter of their voice, their facial expressions and breath, how they’re bound to laugh at the gags at the bottom of their character’s lines.
This IS to share what the student is feeling, this IS not to share their best lines.
She’s being aware of students’ emotions, drawing a closer connection to the kids.
WHY NOT? When a student’s sorrowful story about a loved one that just died is shared as part of a curriculum, parents and other friends of the student join them in a silent circle, sharing their feelings too.
And they smile as they send a message of love and support.
Yes, I know that there are those who may be concerned that if they don’t share their own feelings with a student, the teacher won’t understand her.
But I don’t think that’s a problem.
My students have shared my emotional story with me when I’ve told them a story in class, I would have thought.
And, no, I haven’t yet developed the capacity to hold both in my heart.
Our skills have room for emotional skills
If you’re a teacher, this might sound like intrusive listening.
But, as uncomfortable as it is, it’s often a necessary part of learning.
What is your reaction when you’re asked for your favorite piece of literature?
That piece could be poems or short stories, it could be a single image, a song or a movie.
And many of you can recite your favorite poem to a whole class.
But it’s the material that moves us emotionally, THAT makes a teacher appreciate and share that material.
The teacher gets the kids in the room focused on the material, the kids develop their attention, their skills improve, and the teacher gains life-long skills.
That’s more important than a class loved reciting from page-to-page.
How can we better promote art in our learning?
So, how can we teach students art that appeals to them emotionally?
If my students’ names at the end of the class have a certain meaning to them, how can I share that work with the class?
Funny stories that moved them emotionally should come first
In one case, my student used poetry to vent her frustration.
This poem was a release.
Because the class’s individual attention helped her feel just a little bit more listened to.
Teachers who know how to identify, turn and share emotions that are easy for their students to share with them will receive lessons and connections that will enable their students to speak and write with their children for years to come.
“I don’t think of art as high art,” an art teacher told me, “it’s art that helps people to express themselves, and that’s all it is.
Ask who wants that kind of compassion?”
Answering that question might be more important than learning to create new art.
Jeanette Peters teaches in the Westwood School of the Arts in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter.
If you have questions, comments or stories to share with other teachers, post them here.
Photo: Flickr/Anthony Wyand