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.
6/24/2016 09:03:34 am
Melissa, this is simple and brilliant. I think I have been doing something similar, but I have not had the clarity to put it in this form. I know I repeat myself, but I am so appreciative of your generosity in sharing your great ideas. Thank you again.
6/25/2016 08:19:19 am
Having never been trained in TAB I lack confidence in knowing how to ask the right questions to nudge the students in the right direction to get them unstuck from all the many interferences that create obstacles in completing a piece. I'm also looking for more projects like your sequence of events project, projects that work well with TAB and projects that motivate students to want to go through this design process to complete a final work.
12/23/2017 01:09:38 pm
I used to sit back or get mad at kids that were on their phone or doing their homework until I learned to make it easy on myself. I start off with getting a chair and sitting with a kid. That’s the hardest part for me. Then I say, “What’s up?” They usually will say nothing. Sometimes they will tell you which is good. Then I have to remember these few words... “what can I do to help you get to the next step of this project?” Works well for me. Simple. Which is what I need.
6/25/2016 08:59:15 pm
Thank you for sharing, great way to work with students. I work in a similar way but with young children
7/13/2018 03:50:15 pm
May I use this with my students, Melissa? I’ve been using the design process cycle but this is art specific and I teach elementary... I think this would be easier for them to grasp. I also read your plans to switch up your boot camps to explorations and love it. I’ve been having similar struggles with my kiddos. They’re either busting at the seems with ideas or stuck in quagmire. They can do the skill builders but stall with the actual application in their own work of art. I’m going to provide some more support with prompts and possible themes to explore. I like the way your planning on having the students formulate their own questions. Keep us posted on how this approach works for your classes!
7/14/2018 04:52:19 am
Please use it! I think it does make understanding the process easier and I hope it works well!
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I'm interested in creating a student student centered space for my high school students through choice and abundant opportunity for self expression. I'm also a writer for SchoolArts co-author of The Open Art Room.