erin ahnfeldt

Listening to Life

Hey everyone.  It is my great privilege to introduce to you my first guest blogger!  This story you’re about to read is written by my new friend Dana Romualdi.  She teaches 3rd grade, and like me, enjoys writing about her faith and her experiences with her students in the classroom.  If you’re interested in reading more of her stories, you can check out her blog at www.littlelessonslearnedbydana.com.


 

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” ~ Josh Shipp

Many years ago, I had an experience with a certain teacher I’ll never forget.  I’ve had many positive experiences with teachers throughout the years, but sadly, this encounter was clearly not one of them.

Art was never a strength of mine.  Still, elementary school does not give little girls the ability to opt out of subjects they’re not good at.

On several occasions my artwork was ridiculed by this teacher in front of the class. I was often used as an example of what “not to do” while the teacher laughed, centering me out in the worst way possible. For this reason, I hated art class and was always nervous. Despite my lack of talent, I always made a valiant effort with each assignment.

I remember praying that this teacher would recognize my effort over my abilities, but still, I was continuously the recipient of merciless criticism in front of my peers.

Even at that early age, I knew I’d never treat a child that way, ever!

I’m a teacher now, and I always praise kids’ artwork, giving kind suggestions to those who struggle like me, remembering how I felt as a kid. I did not fully realize how profoundly I had been affected by this experience though, until I entered teacher’s college.

In teacher’s college, I had a wonderfully kind art teacher who was so different than the one I had experienced in elementary school.  She was a glass-half-full type of person, who overflowed with joy and affection for her students. This art teacher had an infectious presence and wanted to convey her love for art to everyone she met.

Our first assignment was to draw a dog. While others worked happily on their canine creations, I sat literally frozen with my pencil in hand.

After a short period of time, she kindly asked, “What’s wrong Dana? Where is your dog?”

I nervously replied, “I don’t know where to start? What type of dog should I draw?”

“Any dog you want!” she sweetly replied with a sparkle in her eye. “There is no right or wrong here!”

Really? Wow! I thought. What a different attitude than what I was used to.

I hesitantly began and drew a wiener dog that was not half bad. It was so different to have someone believe in me, instead of criticizing. Her faith in me got me started on my assignment.

A favorite read aloud of mine is Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. In this story, Ramon loves to draw, anything anywhere, but his love of drawing is crushed when his brother laughs at his creations. It leaves Ramon rattled and discouraged, ready to give up drawing until his kind younger sister reminds him that drawings do not have to be perfect to have value. This notion liberates Ramon as he realizes that he can draw pictures that resemble things; his fish drawing could be “fish-ish”, or his house drawing could be “house-ish.” By looking at his artwork through this new lens, Ramon sees himself as both talented, and capable.

What a beautiful story! I sure can relate to Ramon. Now, I can make “ish” drawings too. I also know I want to be like Ramon’s sister and help bring out greatness in people, not squash their hopes and self-esteem.

Recently I’ve discovered a wonderful resource called Art for Kids Hub. Through this magical and life-changing YouTube channel, you are taught to draw adorable pictures step by step in a process called directed drawings. My students love doing these drawings, and believe it or not, so do I! When the task is broken down into tiny steps, even the most struggling artist can create something beautiful. As a third grade teacher, I was shocked at what my students and I drew in the end, and very proud as well I might add.

Something I once dreaded was now something I looked forward to doing with my students. I must admit, I chuckled to myself when one of my kiddos said, “Wow! Mrs. R. You are an amazing artist!”

I thought… Wow if you only knew!

We are all a work in progress in so many areas, and that is perfectly ok. We all have areas we excel in, areas we struggle a bit in and areas that are clearly not our forte. That is what makes everyone so beautiful. I’m glad we are all blessed with different talents and abilities. Acknowledging our strengths and limitations makes us relatable and authentic.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, we are God’s masterpiece. He sees us flaws and all, yet He loves us still so dearly. Our brokenness and imperfections make us that much more loveable to Him. We never have to feel that He will deem us unworthy, untalented or an example of what failure looks like for others. On the contrary, He looks beyond our damage and sees His dearly loved child. This is so reassuring and comforting.

So, my friend, maybe you feel “ish” in some area of your life. Don’t worry about it. Keep working, but in the meantime, know there is still profound beauty in imperfection.

Until next time,

~ Dana

1 Peter 4:10 (NLT): God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Little Lesson Learned: Be open to learning and growing. Self-awareness is a wonderful thing, but don’t forget you are perfect just the way you are.


Dana Romualdi is a Canadian elementary teacher, blogger, author, social worker and speaker. She has a passion for helping others and spreading much-needed encouragement. She lives in Canada with her husband and two grown children. When she is not working in the classroom or writing, she enjoys drinking coffee, watching Netflix and reading great books.  Want to read more from Dana? Check out her website at www.littlelessonslearnedbydana.com.