Motivation is a slippery thing. Some students have it in spades, working outside of class, coming in at lunch and always challenging themselves. Others do the bare minimum, or decidedly less.
How can we help unmotivated students find their passion?
In a TAB classroom, one obstacle to motivation is the unknown. It makes sense - a student in our educational system's teach to the test culture can easily have almost no experience with generating and developing independent ideas. When we ask students to do this it's uncomfortable. It's so uncomfortable for some that they shut down instead of running the risk in investing in a task they perceive as hard. These students need a framework. The one I use is Artistic Thinking Process.
I created Artistic Thinking Process, or ATP, to scaffold working through the creative process. I use it as the structure for all my lessons, building skills and independence incrementally. Early on in a course I teach the options under each category, later students decide what will work best for their creative needs and preferences. When students are stuck, which most often happens in the Inspiration and Design phases, I refer to ATP in conversations with them. We read through the options and talk through possible next steps. Using ATP makes the design process tangible and accessible instead of overwhelming.
Emma, a student that I had in Art 2, is a good example of how ATP can be used to scaffold for creative independence. She was frequently stuck in class. I'd often find her not working. Instead, she was on her phone or doing homework, which looked like she was unmotivated. However, when we talked I realized she was stuck and had no idea going about making decisions. She had an idea - to make a watercolor painting for our sequence of events project - but she had never used watercolor and had no idea what to do next.
After talking, we decided that she needed some new skills, so I did technique demo for her. Next, after talking it through with me, she decided to find resource images of sunsets, then experiment with technique. After lots of practice and support from me she ended up creating a successful painting. More importantly, she learned a process to make decisions with through our ATP conversations. By the end of Art 2 she was able to do this mostly on her own. Sometimes what looks like motivation is just having the right skill set.
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.