Friday, October 14, 2011

Teachers and Kids at the Art Table

I love to interact with kids at the art table...or wherever they are creating and working. No matter what the materials or the activity, there are some specific principles I try to remember (and sometimes fail to remember).

I want kids to use their own ideas. The important part of the activity is the doing--the experience. That's where kids learn how materials work and develop concepts and understanding. So, as the teacher, I must let go of my own ideas of how it should be done...and allow the ideas flow.

I want to be open to what the kids are thinking and exploring. Creating (and the learning environment in general) should be geared for kids to try their own ideas. Different children may explore in different ways. A great activity allows each child to explore from his own perspective and his own preferences. As a teacher, I can encourage a different approach.

A big part of our activities are the conversations that happen, when we talk about the art. I listen in as kids talk about what they are doing or thinking (to other kids or to me). I ask questions and talk about what I see. The best observations from me are ones that state what I see: "You are using lots of red." "I see straight lines of different colors." "You used green paint first and then purple paint on top." I can also ask questions about how they did something. As a teacher, I can listen and encourage conversations about their thinking.

Of course, sometimes I forget and comment in the wrong way. But kids will remind me what to do. As a teacher, I must constantly evaluate my own work and recommit to doing what's best for the kids, not what works best for me.

1 comment:

  1. The kids do seem to remind us, don't they? I used to hesitate to write the kids' dictation on their work because I didn't want to ruin what they've made. After a few weeks in school, the kids will often remind me, "Will you write my words on my work?"

    I love the examples you give for commenting on children's art! Great job, Scott! :))