Walking the line between a lesson that allows students to assert choice and their own creative voice and managing supplies and expectations can sometimes seem a bit difficult to wrap your head around. But what if it doesn’t have to be? Students don’t need to determine every aspect of their artwork to reap the benefits of having some creative freedom, which include taking more pride and ownership in their artwork.
Here are 3 ways to encourage student choice in your art room:
- Start small
If you’re used to teaching lessons where students all come to the same outcome, that’s okay; it’s still a valid way to give your students a wonderful art education. But if you’re ready to branch out a little bit, start small. Allow students to make one choice at a time or even one choice per lesson to start out. Let them choose their paper color, which animal they’d like to draw out of several choices, or if they’d rather use crayons or markers for a certain lesson. You’ll be surprised how their individual creativity shines when they have a say in their artwork and how simple it is to allow for these choices.
- Choose a framework, not a final outcome
While every art teacher’s philosophy is different, I’ve found that by offering a structure, or framework for the lesson is a great starting off point, then students can make decisions on how to execute the artwork within those constraints. Sometimes that might be a theme of a lesson, like a rainforest landscape, for example. Students have the constraints that they will draw a landscape, but they have the choice in what they include and how they include it. Perhaps some students will be drawn more to exploring the flora of the rainforest, while others are interested in the animals within the landscape. You can also offer choice in the support materials you offer, letting students decide whether they’d like to use a drawing guide or a source image to draw from observation. This allows them not only to have a choice, but also to gauge their own skills.
- Embrace spontaneity
Have you ever had students who, no matter what directions you give, go off in their own direction anyway, adding extra details or their own touches to the lesson you had planned? What if instead of being focused on what the artwork “should” look like, you turned your focus to what it “could” look like? Yes, students need to learn the elements and principles of art and art techniques, but is it really the end of the world if after they complete their artwork, they add a silly face or extra element if that’s what lights them up and engages their interest? If you stifle those small moments of spontaneity, you might miss an opportunity or idea that will make the lesson even better than what you’d planned.
If you’re looking for lessons and curriculums that offer both a framework for success and opportunities for student choice, join us in the Sparklers Club. Enrollment is opening in August and we’d love for you to see how we can help you plan your school year with less stress. Click here to join the waitlist.