Before I was a teacher, I was a business woman.
My background taught me to look at the overall flow of a business: it’s health, teamwork, schedule, tasks, effectiveness of those tasks, and systems to see whether or not it was thriving and what I might do to get it to a better place.
Now in the classroom, both my students and I are aware that I’m not your usual teacher and that has taken some grace on both our parts.
Here are some things that I’ve noticed in education that I naturally want to tinker with and improve: Students with ADHD and the way we make them test. Students not knowing how they learn and not being told that everyone is a unique mix, therefore each person needs to learn their own way of meeting the benchmarks.
We have a cookie cutter system; you take 4 years of math, 4 years of science, and 4 years of English and you come out a high school graduate ready to do life. Hmm…what about life skills and character traits? Are we sure we’ve prepared students to be adults? Have we taught them who they are? Have we taught them how to think and question things? Have we given them the tools to have original ideas?
Breaking old systems
I am not the answer to each one of these problems. I happen to notice, though, I am a fan of breaking old systems and making new ones as is my generation. Little by little, choice by choice, each day I hold loosely these puzzle pieces and ask myself if I can make a difference.
There is a beauty with being an elective teacher. The pressure to produce isn’t between the relationship of student and teacher. Therefore, it’s easy for those students who want to process to choose to come in on breaks and linger in my classroom. It’s an easy place to speak into the lives in front of me and I am thankful, as this holds an important place in the decisions I make.
There are some students who want to grow up to be professional creatives. There are some who are taking these classes to meet their graduation requirements. There are some students who process emotion in what they create, and there are some who don’t understand the relationship mood and color can even have.
To step up and serve the need
I’ve been asking myself how a classroom can have four walls and all these different people categories inside and I can see it would be easy for some to fall through the cracks, tick the box, and leave. Thankfully, I also have been in enough teams to know there is a reason we are placed with the people that we are with and so I look daily for those clues and combinations to be able to step up and serve the need I see.
This week, for example, was first week back from break. I could have chosen to leap into a painting unit straight away, but I wasn’t ready and I kept having this pause cross my mind. I think these moments are the Holy Spirit chatting with me.
I then had this idea to make a week of inspiring stories of people in creative careers. In each story, there was a seed I hoped specific students would pick up and lessons like, don’t let relationships fall apart while your chasing your dreams, or even - work hard, don’t give up, and take a business class…it will help you!
I have some hat tricks from my previous career that have helped me as an educator.
Assess the team - what their strengths are and what they can actually do vs what they tell you they can do. Then get close and learn how they think and what inspires them. This helps me pick relevant projects and shows me how to train them up. For the record - I have a Justin Bieber shrine in one of my classroom closets as a result of this method, but I won some key people.
I have also found grading to be a helpful platform for relationship building. It’s easier to lead people where you want them to go if they trust you. Grading is a monthly platform to assess artwork, and also personal style, thoughtfulness, and identity.
Here is where I’d like to land. I was listening to a podcast about the Helser’s property and school in North Carolina, The 18 Inch Journey. Jonathan David mentioned that in the school there is a flow: they teach people who they are in Christ, how to hear God, and Fathering, and then turn them loose on a creative element to learn and process.
What would happen if we taught in regular educational institutions such simple progressions? Teach the person first who they are, how they learn, how they work, their unique thumbprint so they can then take the classes to get where they were created to go.
Could we not change society if kids knew their programing and how to walk with God prior to the moment they become collegiates?
Kalli Hendrickson is a Press Service International young writer from Brisbane and now in the USA.
Kalli was born in the beautiful State of Montana, USA. She works doing freelance Graphic Design, and is a teacher studying to gain school counseling licensure.