Saturday, June 4, 2011

Classroom Motivation and Management

"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now, With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful." Mark Victor Hansen 

      Artifacts under this MoStep also demonstrate how the appropriate application of behavior management directly influences the environment of the art classroom and the general attitudes students have towards authority figures. Teachers who consistently use appropriate communication skills and affective disciplinary tactics can influence students' intellectual, social, and personal development for many years after they graduate. I have listed below nine positive motivational tactics and one negative motivational tactic that help me manage my classroom. This is because I believe children are best shaped through preventative measures not punitive ones.
  1. Choices motivate art students; they need to feel as though they are directing some of their own education. The choice should be about subjects that the students enjoy or subjects that they assign special significance to. I've included here an art survey that helps me to collect data from my students. Surveys can be a rich resource for determining "how" to make choices about lesson plans and also classroom environment.
  2. Students are motivated when teachers give them some power/responsibility. Assign and rotate classroom responsibilities; this will teach students to value the maintenance of the facilities and resources. Connections between authority and care must be established early in a child's life otherwise, students will associate power with bullying. Bullies want all of the privileges that come with power but none of the responsibility. This is why they enjoy degrading and wounding those they can control.
  3. Skill and age appropriate challenges motivate art students. Teachers must know what most students in certain age groups are capable of learning before they introduce materials to them. Evaluate your students' skills before assigning a project. Make sure students can do some of the assignment on their own. Choose to give new challenges along with familiar ones at the same time. Expanding old skills while introducing new ones will nurture confidence in young artists. Young people can be made to feel as though they are being disrespected when educators "baby" them too much. Never dumb down the materials. If students have difficulty with the assignment, simply break it down into more manageable pieces for them to study.
  4. Most students love to interact with and engage their peers during art class. As long as they can keep their socializing to an acceptable volume and keep their minds on the work, I let them speak freely with each other during art class. Art, like music and sports should have a different set of demands from other academic pursuits. People are not like robots! They need a variety of activities to stimulate their curiosity. They need to be seen for what they can create, not just for what they can conform to twenty-four-seven. Creativity happens when children are given some measure of independence without always worrying about too many rules and restrictive disciplinary tactics. The art room is a natural "safe haven" for this kind of exploration.
  5. If students give meaning or assign purposes for creating art themselves, they will feel more inclined to persevere with their assignments. There should be a balance between my opinions and those ideas my students have about the creative process. Because my students have many experiences and beliefs of their own, it is by far more advantageous for me to design lessons that give them license for broader interpretations. I never hesitate to superimpose an academic perspective of issues when their education is at stake, however, I do try to make room for their personal opinions as well.
  6. Students love to see excellent results! Sometimes this is more important to them than anyone else. They are their own worst critics. Frustration and impatience are the constant companions of young artists. I often find myself lecturing and correcting bad attitudes in my classrooms. It takes time for students to mature in the arts and it is important for their caregivers, peers and teachers to nurture and protect them from low self-esteem. I often try to choose lessons that I know my students will achieve some measure of success in the process of doing them. This builds the confidence they will need in the future to attempt harder assignments.
  7. Cultural influences and practices will sometimes motivate student enrichment more than anything else. These are similar to those intimate choices students apply to their work. However, they are also different from personal motivations. This is because there is a period of time in which young people must walk apart from the things they have been taught in order to examine and appreciate "what" they have been taught. This is a natural transition into adulthood. If the parents/teachers have taught valuable lessons based in truth, their adult children will then return to important traditions and unique culture or at the very least be appreciative of their community's culture. Every adult will eventually accept or reject lessons taught in childhood on the basis of their own personal experiences. Children will accept their parents culture and value systems with fewer conditions because they are more dependent on their parents for physical, mental and emotional preservation.
  8. Students are motivated when they feel safe and accepted in the classroom. No student ever enjoys feeling or actually being ostracized by peers and or teachers. I strive for this emotional safety factor in my art classroom. Students need to know that even if their opinions or ideas don't seem to be similar to their peers, they will be kindly welcomed and listened to during lessons in my classroom.
  9. Students are more motivated when they understand the behaviors that are expected of them. The discipline must seem fair and the punishment must fit the crime. In this short but concise paper I describe my classroom policies concerning inappropriate behaviors.
  10. Last but not in the least bit least, students are motivated by enjoyment. Most students are required studies in subjects that are not always fun to learn. But, art should be different. Most students believe that there is simply no reason to create art if it can not be an enjoyable prospect. Even art that is about serious topics should be somewhat pleasurable to produce in the eyes of a young person. This simple fact needs to be taken into consideration when teaching art to the masses. 
 
 all articles, photographs and lesson plans are copyrighted 2011 by Grimm