Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Talking About Art

I know better. I walked over to where "H" was drawing on the white board. I saw him drawing and said the fateful words, "H, I wonder if I could guess what you are drawing."

I looked at the image on the board as he continued to draw. "Is it a target?" I asked. "No."

I looked and watched his work further. "Is it a whirlpool?" "No."

He glanced at me and said, "It is a bunch of circles."

In a recent Teacher Tom post, Tom blogged about praise and talking with kids about what they are doing. I know how to do this. I often make comments only about what I see ("You are drawing around and around. You are making lots of circles. You are using the blue marker to draw.") Or I ask the child to tell me about his process or his thinking. ("I see you are drawing on the easel. Tell me about what you are doing.") I could have said any number of things to "H" but I sought to label his drawing. I didn't even ask my stand-by question: "Are you drawing something or making a design?" (It's okay just to draw a design without anything particular in mind, Mr. Scott!)

"H" helped me remember how to talk about what the kids are doing - not just art but blocks or dramatic play or working puzzles. Be specific in what I observe and allow the child to tell me more. Ask and listen rather than talk and label. Lesson learned, H. Well...at least until I forget again.


  1. 'Ask and listen rather than talk and label' ... probably the greatest challenge for ALLl teachers I think Scott!
    Donna :) :)

  2. Great post Scott, and a great reminder. I still catch myself doing this - and I should know better too! The other day in the block area I said "Oh wow, look at your zoo". It wasn't a zoo. It was a spaceship for animals.

  3. I appreciate your honesty, Scott. It's hard to remain objective, but one of the very best things to do when looking at a child's art work. Lesson learned!!

  4. Our local ECE group is having a presenter in on this topic tonight.
    It is something that I constantly remind myself to stop and think before I talk when approaching a child and their art.

  5. It's nice to see someone willing to admit that they may mistakes. None of us are perfect teachers, myself included. It's a great reminder.