Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beware Students Bearing Gifts?

Today is the last student day before Christmas Break and the school is filled with the excitment and anticipation of a thousand students looking forward to an epic holiday break. These days, I like to retreat to the fortitude of my artroom swiftly. As I turned the corner to my artroom, I was greeted by students bearing gifts and immediately the wisdom of Laoco├Ân came to mind(as well as memories of standing in front of one of the most acclaimed sculptures in the Vatican's collection). After I collected my thoughts and got Italy "off the brain", I gave the students a quick once over and realized none of the gifts were constructed from wood, or large enough to hold an army, so I let them into my classroom.

I cheerily, opened the first gift. Chocolate! Definitely not meant to bring down the walls of the art room, but it will certainly lift the spirits of an art teacher after an hour of working with 32 ninth graders and 50 pounds of clay.

Next gift, a book, titled The Art of Doing Nothing? Now, I could take this two ways. Either, I do far too much and my student feels I need to be less of an over-achieving, perfectionist, or I have accomplished the art of doing nothing well and this is their stamp of approval. The book however, is beautiful, and full of inspirational imagery and verbiage which is in no way meant to procure a queen of Mycenae.

The third gift of the morning, another book. Oh, how I profess my love for the written word in class. The World According to Mr. Rogers, again, nothing to be wary of with this book. Mr. Rogers was a Guru of Good for the masses and as I look at my teaching and lifestyle, he was a Guru of Good for me. A quote from Mr. Rogers, "The purpose of Life is to listen-to yourself, to your neighbor, to your world and to God and, when the time comes, to respond in as helpful a way as you can find from within and without."

More gifts, a candle, some hot chocolate. And then, stealthily, a student from the hall delivered the coup de gras of gifts. The arrow to the Achilles heel of this art teacher. A hot, fresh, cup of coffee straight from Caribou, brought by a student's mom. Collaboration. Coffee. Clever. The Greeks have nothing on these kids. The artroom falls. Mrs. Steffl breaks down with a heart full of joy, and a tummy full of goodness.

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