By Vanessa Sanchez
During planned possibilities, I observed a child in our art studio, expressing his feelings to Rebecca. He was reflecting on his behavior from the past year. He mentioned how that has affected his friendships at the beginning of this school year. The more I listened to him and watched his facial expressions, the more I wondered how the other children see themselves.
In my journey to find out and to also connect with the children differently, I planned a self-portrait activity where the children could have a calmer environment to work. Before starting the self-portraits, I gave the children information that these self-portraits were going to be different. That it was about creating a portrait of how they see themselves, without a mirror. The focus was for the children to bring their personalities, feelings, and characteristics into their self-portrait.
When they started to choose the colors, Zelda observed some of the children taking a long time selecting the colors they wanted to use, and she said, “Remember, it’s not about how you look on the outside, it’s about how you are feeling on the inside.” With that, the children started to create their self-portraits.
Once they were finished, I would have a one-on-one conversation with each child where I would ask, “How do you see yourself as a person?” Some of the children understood the question and were able to answer it with ease. A few of the children needed more detail in the question. I knew this question was going to be challenging for them, as it was just as challenging when I asked myself that same question. It takes a moment to reflect on your being and the impact you’re creating around you.
For all children to participate, I broke down the question and asked the children, who were having a challenging time answering, “How do you care for yourself? How do you care for your friends, family, and your environment? How do you take care of your feelings?” Hearing their answers, I was able to connect to many of them, therefore, strengthening our relationships. When other children listened to the answers, they were able to communicate with each other, sparking conversations between them about how they feel and who they love. As I display the children’s self-portraits and quotes in the classroom, I wonder, will the reader ask, “How do I see myself?”