When I was a teacher, I found it very easy to get my message across without saying a single word. If I saw a student doing something inappropriate, I would beckon to him with the wiggle of my finger. He already knew there was trouble before he ever reached my desk. That simple gesture, coupled with my raised eyebrows said it all. The offending student would usually hang his head, apologize, and shuffle back to his seat. Sometimes, a gesture is worth a thousand words.
“Come Here”–Pencil and Watercolor
When I was an elementary school teacher, there would be one student every year who knew all the answers—literally. After I asked a question, his—or hers—would be the first hand to shoot into the air. It would wiggle wildly, willing me to look in its direction. Its fingers would stretch desperately toward the ceiling. It was a flashing neon sign begging to be noticed. It wouldn’t be fair to let that one student answer every question, but it wouldn’t be fair to ignore that kind of enthusiasm, either. I would smile, nod, or wink at my genius, giving that “I know you know” acknowledgement before calling on another student—perhaps the one who sat in the back of the room and was often too shy to raise a hand. Everyone deserves a chance to shine.
My life runs according to lists. There are lists on my calendar, lists on my note pad, and lists on post-its all over the house. If I write it down, I will do it—eventually. If a task has to rely on my memory for completion, chances are good that it simply won’t happen. For months now, I’ve been thinking that I should volunteer at the assisted living facility in my community. My plan is to offer a watercolor pencil workshop so I can teach the residents to use art as a vehicle to find peace and passion. I knew I would need to stop by the facility, fill out an application, and talk with the Activities Director. I didn’t put that visit on a list, so I never went. Yesterday, I went back to my dusty mental filing cabinet and transferred that thought to a post-it. The next thing I knew, I was in my car and on my way. I picked up an application, and today, the number one task on my list is to return that application. This teacher is ready to get back in the classroom. I’ve written it down, so I’m bound to make it happen.
“Apples for the Teacher”–Colored Pencil