To me, the art for social justice camp was the most incredible and reassuring experience. It has been forever since I had the opportunity to be there when a lesson was introduced and to help students formulate ideas through the planning stages. I think what amazed me most of all was the difference I felt when teaching at this camp compared to teaching in Gadsden. Although Gadsden was a more realistic scenario because students may not have necessarily wanted to be there, it was great to see the best possible scenario during our time at the camp. It has reminded me of why I wanted to get into teaching art in the first place, a memory that seemed to get lost a little over time.
During our time at the camp, I wanted to see if I could overcome one of my biggest fears: reaching an unreachable student. Every one gave me advice in handling this student, especially Sara and Mrs. B. If the process of helping this student get out of their shell a little bit has taught me anything, it is how easy it is to give up. It is so easy to look the other way when a student isn’t being cooperative. It is so easy to be insensitive in terms of willingness to understand where a student is coming from and say something blunt like “Well, you’re going to fail then” or something like that. Even though that sort of response couldn’t be used in a summer camp, it is easy to pass kids that don’t cooperate as “bad” or speak to them as if they have a bad attitude or are trying to wrong you on a personal level. Sometimes this is not the case at all. It is so important to be understanding in these situations and to lead your actions with an open mind and heart. If anything, I understand this student’s situation well because I can relate to him. I was there before, and art camp has changed me drastically in the past. When teaching a real art class, it may not be as easy to reach a specific student in a matter of 4 days, but it is still possible to reach them in a school year or even a semester.
I have also learned that students are way smarter and more perceptive than I could have ever imagined. Every one of the kids at the camp was so incredibly smart and aware of the world, who they are in the world, and what they can bring to the world. I was so impressed. I was also extremely impressed with every one of us. I have seen the art teacher in every one and it makes me so proud to learn alongside such strong and caring women!