How can you tell when your students are successful? Is it aesthetics? Displayability? Winning the art show? These might be the signs that are easily spotted but they are also a shallow measure.
Success in my room this week looked like:
- A kid who has missed weeks of school making it to class for three days in row.
- Students clapping for the artist when I wore the shirt she screen printed.
- Art 1 kids begging to bring their paintings home to show their parents.
- An autistic student who was able to participate fully in a group critique.
- The student who's been struggling with participation who engaged and made an awesome meme.
Success in art is anything but generic. It's not dependent on what adults like or even value. It's different for every student.
Success is malleable - definitions of success change as students develop and grow. It's personal and deeply connected to what learners are passionate about.
It's our job to provide content that gives students an opportunity to connect, to stretch and to grow and to do this we have to differentiate for their individual needs.
In other words, provide choice, differentiate and celebrate whenever you can. It's easy to get locked onto the value of the final product, for us as well as students, but the journey is just as important.
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.