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My fourth-grade class today started out with a confession and an apology.
Let me explain.
Last week, I had an AMAZING lesson plan all ready for my kids. We had been examining art, pinpointing interesting details, and articulating the emotions art brought us. The next step was to introduce a simplified guide to art concepts. The vision was clear and simple: bring things together in a way that kids see for themselves that:
1) art makes us feel things
2) that’s not by accident
3) artists make craft moves on purpose
4) knowing those craft moves helps us talk about art
5) and create it
6) and we can transfer that idea to our WRITING
These are big ideas, and they are thought-provoking and exciting.
Unless I ruin things.
Which I did.
Because all of the above things do NOT fit into a single lesson. And somehow, I had it in my brain that my lesson was so well-designed and efficient that I could.
Those poor kids. They were bored to tears and I felt so sorry for them, having to sit through that grind. They really did try so very hard, but it was just way too much to try and put together in one go. Really, they were such good sports.
I went home that day feeling small, swearing that I’d redesign the lesson in a way that brought both the fun and enthusiasm back.
So today, I started class with a confession. I fully admitted that last week’s lesson didn’t go the way I saw it, that I felt terrible for them, having to sit through such an experience, and that I was hoping to try again if they were up for the challenge.
You know, I think my kids appreciated the apology. I think they appreciated my acknowledgement of their experience, and the fact that I wanted to do better by them. So they gave it another go.
We examined Morgan Russell’s “Synchromy,” art concept guides in hand.
I decided to just let the kids talk to each other about what they were seeing. And they dug it!
At one point in the lesson, the kids accidentally zoomed in too closely on the painting. True to Bob Ross’s “happy accident” wisdom, we discovered how much skill went into these seemingly simple shapes:
Friends, they did BEAUTIFULLY. Would you believe this one piece held their attention for over a half an hour? They couldn’t believe it, and neither could I. It was just what my teacher soul needed.
And in the coming weeks, there will be more to learn and more big concepts to connect. We’ll just…try to enjoy the journey just a little bit more thoughtfully…