Student Choice

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.

It’s not.


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,

exploring together,

discovering together,

growing 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.




4 thoughts on “Student Choice

  1. Choice is so important for building ownership! I bet your students are more invested and work longer on their art. It doesn’t seem like ‘work’ to them because they are doing what they want to do.

  2. So perfect! I thinks it’s what we,as teachers, want to do but feel so boxed in that we forget what’s really important! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. This is great Trevor. One way I allow my students to author their work is to sometimes pose a question, typically a broad question. I’ll ask them to create an additional 2-3 questions that stem from the original question or original thought- and the only guide is that their questions need to be genuine and of interest to them. Then I invite them to investigate their questions by using materials or process, or both. The power to author, create, investigate, and to relate to self is really important.

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