Why do I teach kindness in my virtual art class? Well, it was another Saturday morning and I had just logged in to my zoom account and launched my virtual art class. Usually it is an easygoing and fun class where my little artists laugh and enjoy their 30 mins of creating. It was January and we were painting a snowman. The class went really well.
However, teaching a virtual art class in front of little people can be worrisome. As a non-native English speaker, I often wonder: “Am I making sense? Do I speak too fast? Is this the way you say it correctly?” These are all the questions going through my mind. But not that Saturday! I felt very comfortable and confident in my own skin.
Until, let’s call him Matteo (who was 4 and had his father by his side), began to correct me as we were about to paint a few more snowflakes on the paper. “It is a snowman” he said. “Yes, we are painting a snowman”, I said in my strong Eastern European accent.
Suddenly he shouted: “Speak English” right there in front of my little artists, I was speechless and gasping for words. We all got quiet. Even Matteo did because his father pressed the mute button. Don’t get me wrong: I know kiddos say things they have in their mind. They don’t pretend and that’s what I love about children – their honestly and purity. Yet this was harsh.
I quickly made a joke about it and blamed my accent for it. Yet deep inside, I was hurt and wanted to end the class ASAP. I finished it with a big smile on my face and thanked everyone for their attention. “Accents are beautiful” they say, yet it did not feel like it.
After that class Matteo never showed back up. I never heard from his parents either.
Teaching Kindness Virtually
Since that class, I see the importance of reminding and teaching children to be kind. I tell all my little students to practice kindness to everyone they meet, regardless of culture and color. We all live in one melting pot and I believe I should not have to apologize for my accent, culture, and/or color. No one should.
We teach kindness to our children starting at home. Accept and embrace different cultures. It does not take much! And do you know what’s interesting? Nowadays my students finish the sentence for me: “be kind to everyone you meet”.