What will the kids say?

My 7th period art class at the high school is the most difficult to manage (as is the 3rd period at the middle school.) These two classes are my largest, so it’s understandable that they are more of a challenge than others. Each additional child invites a potential behavior problem. Also, one child who may be easy to work with on his own may become a demon when he is with another. This occurred with two boys in 3rd period who joined us a month or so ago. The first boy was fine until the second one arrived a week later. Now they egg each other on.

In drama today, we finished blocking the school play. With the time remaining, I asked the students to write a reflection on the blocking process. How was the experience for them? Were students cooperating well? If they were director, what would they have done differently? I asked them to be honest. Of course they would not be marked down if I did not like what I heard – so long as they thought analytically and offered suggestions when criticism was given. I’ve read a few so far and I’m very pleased with their repsonses. Many of them thought I was too controlling as a director, and I didn’t listen to their suggestions enough. I’ve worked a lot in theater, and the first thing you learn is to be quiet and pay attention to the director. The director calls the shots and will ask actors for suggestions if he wants, but usually does not want them shouted out to him. Nevertheless, it was useful to hear what teenage student actors thought should happen.

Now I’ve got an idea to try on 7th period art. I’m going to stop everything and have them write one page, double-spaced but at least two paragraphs on the following topic:

“How can we maintain a classroom where everyone enjoys art, gets all the assignments done, and follows the rules? Give specific suggestions.”

Then I might even try some of their suggestions and have them write or talk about whether the suggestion worked.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE, beginning of 7th period.

Wow, everyone seems pretty engrossed in writing on this topic. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that students enjoy being asked what they think. Of course, there are those asking about why it has to be two paragraphs instead of all one huge one.

One student said when he arrived (and saw the topic on the board), “what if I already enjoy art, do my assignments, and follow the rules?” I made sure that the students wrote about how we could achieve that for everyone.

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

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