Friday, December 14, 2012

Teaching as a soul soother...

My day job is working as a violence prevention educator.  Specifically sexual violence prevention.

Today, I was in an all staff meeting with other members of my agency completely until late afternoon unaware that 20 school children had lost their lives.

Drawing given to me by a child in a class...
Yesterday, I spent the day working with elementary school children, talking about personal space.  The school I was working in is listed as a "failing" school.  The children are taught to the test, measured, sent to intervention and tested again.  The lessons on violence prevention that I teach often seem as wing nuts in the structure of the day.  In some schools, it seems as though the children have no space to themselves.  My introduction of personal space sometimes seems as attainable as travel to the moon for children in this culture.

But yesterday, I changed my lesson a bit.  Other groups of children in this school weren't "getting" the lesson even though it was easily "gotten" in other schools.  So yesterday, I removed as many transitions as possible and allowed the 8 year old children to draw pictures of whatever was important to them.

This drawing was made by me when a child walked up to me with a frown and blank pages.  He didn't know what to draw.  The two other children at the table were engaged in the activity but stopped to listen.  I told the young boy that he could draw anything he chose.  After this drawing, the group of three happily drew and chatted for the class.  The child who was at a loss before filled several pages with drawing and was beaming.  He said, "This is ALL my personal space!"

The children made books, pictures of Christmas trees, images of pets and best friends, flowers and video games.  For 40 minutes, the children owned the time.  They could chat together about their images, share crayons and markers, or just draw.  The drawings were THEIR OWN PERSONAL SPACE...something they were in charge of.

I received a couple of images from the children.  These drawings are precious.  I hope that the children know that they were seen and valued.  This evening in this time of tragic loss that is all I really can offer.

And on Monday, I will get up and go teach more children about personal space.

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