Making Changes; Learning From Changes

Last week, I went to visit a Full-Day Kindergarten class at Rousseau School as part of the NTIP Program. When we were there, the Kindergarteners showed me a piece of art work that they created together after being inspired by Aelita Andre’s work.

I was so impressed by what they did, that I really wanted to try something similar with my students. Today, we started exploring and planning for our artistic piece that we are going to collaboratively create tomorrow.

As I was getting ready to leave school at the end of the day, I realized how my approach to this activity really highlights my changes as an educator.

  • In the past, I would have set everything up for painting. Now, I let the students get organized. When we watched a segment of Miss Fanjoy and Mrs. Raymond’s collaborative art video, my students noticed that the FDK class taped a tablecloth to the floor. I didn’t have a tablecloth, but I had two full bags of newspaper. Students thought that taping it would ensure that it didn‘t slip as we painted. So we decided on the size of our painting, and then the students did the taping. They filled in any gaps. They ensured that the newspaper was secure (with the help of our awesome EA, Mrs. Wedgewood). The students took ownership of getting prepared.
  • In the past, I would have mixed the paint, got it out on the plates, laid out all of the materials to use, and ensured that everything was placed around the paper. Now, I put together a pile of some possible materials, and I let the students decide what to do. The students developed the plan today. They came up with ideas that I never even considered. They had me searching for supplies that I didn’t even realize I had. They’re going to mix the paint. They’re going to set-up. And they’re going to help clean-up. They’re the ones creating the art work, and it’s important for them to own the process.
  • In the past, I would have directed the discussion. Now, the students worked in small groups to watch and discuss the Aelita Andre video. I listened in to what they said. I asked some questions. I let them decide how they wanted to reflect and share, and I tried to be comfortable with many different options (from drawing to writing to just talking). I thought back to my blog post from the other day, and the value in this small group learning versus full class sharing.
  • In the past, the small things would have bothered me. Now I ask more, does this really matterI think back to taping the newspapers on the floor. Yes, we have some newspapers there that are probably not needed. And yes, the area taped was slightly bigger than I expected. But tomorrow, when we roll out the paper, the students can reflect on the area of the newspaper versus the area of the paper. The students can see what’s needed, and what’s maybe not needed. The students can experience this instead of me telling it to them. Maybe then, this new learning will make even more sense to them.
  • In the past, an art activity like this one would have me worried and considering questions such as, what will the final product look like and will this project work? Now, I’m just REALLY excited to see what tomorrow brings. I don’t know if our collaborative painting will work. I don’t know if the paper is thick enough. I don’t know if the tools will rip the “canvass.” I don’t know if we’re going to have too much paint. I don’t know how the colours will work together. I don’t know if our final work will even come close to resembling what the FDK class did. I do know though that the process matters, and working collaboratively, solving problems, and experimenting with the elements of design, all have tremendous value regardless of what becomes of our final product. 

I wonder what would happen if we all thought about something that we did in the classroom, in the school, or at home. How would we approach a similar situation in the past? How do we approach it now? What’s the impact of any changes on kids? Change is good, but the learning that happens as a result of these changes, I think is even better. I’d love to hear about your learning: new, old, and everything in between!



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