Sunday, April 22, 2012

Decorating together

A few weeks ago I was reminded of one Responsive Classroom recommendation- that instead of displaying the work that you the teacher decide to display instead you should display the work that the students want to display. When this was mentioned I kind of remembered learning about it, thinking it was a great idea, and then  never thinking about it again. It is something so simple, and yet something that calls for a massive teacher mind shift- stop planning cute murals or art displays that show all the same work. Instead create a space in the classroom where students can display the work they are proud of.

Something so simple but so powerful. Instead of putting up one art project that usually shows how creative you are as a teacher (even if we don't want to admit it that is what we're thinking when we put up our art displays- right?) send the message to the children that when they are proud of something they can choose to display it. It means not thinking of cute and witty titles for bulletin boards but instead giving control over to the students- letting them decide what is display worthy.

I happened to have already hung a string up in the classroom with clothes pins. It had previously been displaying all the same work- whatever art project I decided would add enough color to the room. The next time we did an art project I asked the kids whether or not they wanted to put up the new project and take down the old one. Then the next week I did it again. Everyone decided something different. Some kids didn't seem to understand or care but I went through the motions of the choice anyway.

After doing it twice I started to notice something. They WERE thinking about whether or not they wanted their work displayed. They were putting more effort into their work because it if was good they would use it to decorate OUR classroom. Not my classroom- but theirs. One little boy started asking me to put up some of his other drawings. Not all of them, but occasionally he'd show me a drawing he'd worked hard on and ask me to put it up. 

It is so simple- we're doing the same activities anyway, I just need to release control and allow myself to be ok with not putting up everyone's adorable work. Then I just need to give myself time during the day to quickly ask each child if they would want their art displayed or not. 

Of course I have other murals and bulletin boards that do show the assigned art projects. But for right now I'm enjoying my clothes line of work we're proud of. 
(Currently displayed: leprechauns, city scenes with buildings in order from longest to shortest, and one poster of what a child will look like when he is 100). 

1 comment:

edthoughts said...

Wow. This is a cool idea. I even have a space for this in my room. I also like the string w/ clothespins so kids can just put up the work on their own. That really increases the ownership.