Comic artist and educator Taylor Dow has been running youth arts programs for 13–18 year-olds over Zoom since the pandemic ended in-person after-school programs in the spring. During a recent Creative Virtual Teaching Solutions workshop at foundry10, Taylor shared good, bad, and beautifully awkward stories from teaching in the virtual classroom.
“We all have to see ourselves on Zoom. Imagine being a teenager and having a mirror in front of you while you talk. It’s brutal,” said Taylor.
Several foundry10 educators agreed with this sentiment over Zoom chat. Taylor paused the lecture to read the Zoom chat comments aloud and laughed, prompting more foundry10 team members to share idiosyncrasies of online teaching in the chat box:
“I’m always checking to make sure there’s no glare from my glasses,” wrote foundry10 Digital Audio educator Chelsi Gorzelsky.
“I can’t stop looking at my own mouth,” wrote foundry10 Artistic Design educator, Jon Garaizar.
Encouraging side conversations in the Zoom chat box is a core tenant of the unofficial Taylor Dow teaching philosophy.
“Those in-between spaces; the experience of looking at the back of someone’s head; the experience of wanting to make friends; the experience of being in a hallway; the experience of eating together — it’s all gone,” said Taylor. “Finding ways to fill those spaces is very important for students.”
Taylor designed a virtual classroom that lowers the stakes and tries to fill the social void left in the wake of COVID-19 by providing access to playful, engaging virtual learning experiences.
“It’s not so much about what they’re making, not even so much about what they’re learning, but more a question of — can this place be a respite?” said Taylor. “We’re all so worried about what’s coming next, what came before. Try to give your students some relief from that.”
When the sun doesn’t shine and it’s too wet to play, and you’re stuck in the house on a cold, wet day, it’s time to get creative with paint, glue and clay! Here’s how three local families and artists make the most of Seattle’s rainy season.
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While expecting her first baby, Redmond mom Sarah Fong assumed that she would one day post precious photos of her child on Facebook and Instagram just like everyone else in her social network. But after her daughter arrived, Fong reconsidered. A number of family members were randomly sharing photos of other relatives’ children on social media without permission. She realized that once you post a photo online, you lose control over it. “I didn’t want some weird creeper using her picture for lewd and salacious acts,” says Fong.
Her concerns may sound paranoid to some, but they aren’t unfounded. On any given day, over 17,000 devices in Washington state are being used by predators to trade images of children. The Child Rescue Coalition (CRC), a nonprofit organization that tracks over one million unique pre-pubescent abuse image and video files traded on the Internet every day, reports that child predators actively seek out popular hashtags such as #bathtime, #pottytraining, #nakedkids and #toddlerbikini to find photos of children in states of undress. Unfortunately, with the rise of the internet, pedophiles are now able to easily trade photos, tips and techniques on how to seduce and lure children into sexual encounters. A secondary consequence of this horrifying anonymous social sharing is that it gives the offenders the mistaken impression that this behavior is normal and therefore acceptable.
“The demographic of the child predator has shifted from the creepy old man in the basement to young men between the ages of 17 and 36 years old,” says SPD Internet Crime Against Children Task Force Commander Mike Edwards. “Often these men are married or in a relationship and have professional careers.”
Raven Juarez first developed an interest in art while drawing on a yellow legal pad under her mother’s desk. The child of two busy lawyers, Juarez had to find creative ways to entertain herself while her parents finished up work at the office.
“I used to make up stories and characters and draw them doing different things,” says Juarez. “I always felt that I had a closer relationship to myself through drawing than through spoken or written words.”
Today, Juarez is a professional artist and shares her love of creating with her early-education students at an infant-toddler program in North Seattle. Her teaching philosophy is grounded in the Reggio approach; cultivating a space for curiosity and development through play and art-making.
“Just like kids babble before they learn to talk, they also scribble before they develop their own pictorial language,” says Juarez. “Art is a language that can be used for something deeper and more important than just something that looks nice on a wall.”
Last Christmas, Anthony Battiste and his four sons — Chris 9, Anthony, 5, Abraham, 4, and Alvin, 2 — spent the holiday in a homeless shelter. After he and his wife separated and she moved to California, Battiste was left with one income and too many expenses. Though he tried to make ends meet with his earnings as a roofer, after a couple of months the family was evicted from their rental in Tacoma.
There were many times when Battiste had to choose between providing food for the children and paying for a hotel room. Despite his best efforts, the family sometimes had no choice but to sleep in their vehicle.
“It was trying, but at the same time it was binding,” says Battiste. “It presented an opportunity for me and the boys to become a strong cadre, leaning and depending on each other to get through the hard times.”
When Tripat Singh and Jasmine Marwaha were growing up together in North Seattle in the early 1980s, there were only about 20 other Sikh families in the area and a single gurdwara (place of worship). They fell in love while Jasmine was studying law at Harvard and married soon after. The Central District couple are now raising their 4-year-old son, Kabir Singh, and 4-month-old daughter, Sahiba Kaur, in a large, dynamic Sikh community.
Sikhism was born in the Punjab region of northern India during an era of extreme class inequality. “The turban used to be worn only by kings and royalty,” says Singh, a clinical practitioner of Eastern medicine. “Sikhs started wearing it as a way of giving the finger to the government. The circumstances you are born into aren’t what you have to be relegated to for the rest of your life.”
A day in the life of Seward Park children’s musician Eli Rosenblatt sounds downright idyllic. After a morning spent in his garden with a famous florist (his wife, Kelly Sullivan) and lively 3-year-old (his son, Elian), Rosenblatt takes a stroll through his neighborhood to teach music and movement at three local preschools. Though some might find engaging a room full of 4-year-olds exhausting, for Rosenblatt it’s nirvana.
“There are moments when you can feel so much love in the room,” he says. “Just seeing the parents seeing their children and the children seeing their parents. It’s really special. It feels really joyful.”
Whether baking family recipes, crafting decorations, or dressing up as dinosaurs, these local families know how to put the happy into the holidays. From an “A-Team”-inspired celebration to a Sikh musical tradition to a recently homeless family making merry in a new home, the holiday season in Seattle is as multifarious as it is memorable.
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