I allow my students to choose
what they work on,
what goals they would like to explore,
and where they would like to work.
My art room looks different.
So does the artwork.
The work looks like my students’ work.
It looks like them.
It doesn’t look like them doing my work.
My conversations are different too;
more relevant to my students’
interests and work.
We no longer bicker about them
not doing the work I want them to do.
We talk about how they can successfully do the work
they want to do.
In doing the work that is meaningful
to them, they explore a ton of standards.
I introduce them to new ideas, concepts, skills, artists, and techniques
that now are related specifically and directly to their work,
to their ideas, to their interests.
It makes them more receptive.
One fifth grader said,
“I’m kind of new to this good drawing thing.”
By giving him choice, he was able to find a subject and a style
that worked for him. He was learning about himself as an artist
and in doing so, now sees himself as one.
I also have less artwork getting thrown out.
Students don’t care as much about doing my artwork.
They like to do theirs. Even if it doesn’t look as polished
as what I used to make them do.
By no means do I mean to make it sound perfect.
I feel lost sometimes.
I still have students who struggle.
I struggle to help them some days.
But the struggle is always about them now.
It’s about struggling to help them find their path.
It’s not about them struggling to be on mine.
We are both learning how to do that.
When I am learning then I know my students are learning.
My students and I
are learning together,
I am learning who they are.
I am learning how to help them be them.
They are learning to share their ideas.
They are learning to express their ideas.
They are learning to use their interests
to do meaningful work.
As a teacher, this is what I always hoped to teach my students.
Now, I am.
I know I made the right choice
by giving my students choice.