“I trust you,” I told one of my students when she explained what she wanted to create in response to a project prompt.
I am proud that I have built a culture of mutual trust and respect in my classroom, and I would not have been able to do that without building relationships with my students. I genuinely enjoy learning about my students’ families, cultures, after school activities, likes and dislikes… I even refer to them as “my kids” when I tell stories about my classes.
Relationship building is an essential foundation for a culture of trust. Because I know my kids the way I do, I am able to trust that when they want to try something new, veer a little from the path I was planning to take them on during a lesson, or even use completely different or nontraditional materials than what I have prepped, I let them travel that road. I trust that they are making creative decisions to express themselves and taking risks because they want to learn more deeply. I even trust that, for the most part, they will clean up after themselves. It’s a simple thing, but knowing that they will take care in their use and organization of shared materials is paramount in an art room.
This trust has led to many incredible class discussions about the world and our place in it. It has led to inspired products that would have never been created if I didn’t trust my students. We’ve had great debates about what art is, is not, and can be. Kids are comfortable asking for guidance from their peers, and kids are comfortable giving guidance respectfully and constructively.
I’m okay with things not going according to my plan all the time, because it means I’m empowering my students to take ownership of their own learning paths.
#IMMOOC Week 4