This picture does not look like much to anyone else I am sure, but it represents a lot to me and my class.
This is the first project my class created collaboratively. My only requirements were that everyone was included, that it was done with process (not product) as the focus and that it was completed safely. I helped them to decide on roles and responsibilities and they came up with the concept, the design and completed the work themselves. There was no "issue" driving this work as much as it was designed to help them practice to work and create together because it was clear they were not yet skilled in that area. I guess you could say then that the issue was their lack of collaboration skills. This was an issue identified by me though and not them.
The window on the left features a skating rink with all the students pictured skating together, as well as below there is a fireplace with a fire in it made of all the children's hands. These were both student concepts. This piece was inclusive of many ideas and viewpoints, as well as mindful of one participant who is Jehova's witness and wanted to participate in a way that did not compromise her values.
Areas of growth for this project are:
- Knowing my kids strengths and weaknesses and trusting my intuition when assigning roles: two kids were interestingly manipulative in this process trying to get what they wanted through older kid temper tantrums (when they did not get what they wanted they pouted and visibly showed their upset in unproductive self serving rather than collectively beneficial ways) and instead of shutting that down through focusing on others displaying more prosocial behaviour and emotional maturity, I tried to help the upset participants get what they wanted and helped them to advocate for themselves. They unfortunately had a much different view of their leadership abilities then was in reality their capacity and because I did not catch that, they ended up being in a leadership role that they were not capable of managing well. This caused more problems for them when people would not listen to them as they were being unreasonable. This was a relatively minor issue in the project itself and what ended up happening was a great learning experience for these students and myself. The effects on the emotional safety in this project were minor as the other students just went about their business working on the project, but this issue and process between these students and myself played itself out over and over again until I learned where they were really at emotionally and in terms of their maturity level and leadership skills. In larger projects I no longer trusted them with bigger leadership roles based on my experience, and gave them direct and honest feedback as to why I was choosing the people I chose for specific roles. When working on democratically choosing leaders for things these students were often nominated to lead but never chosen by the others which was good data and feedback for them as to their level of earned authority with the group. The self confidence of these two and their self awareness grew immensely over the year and I learned to take my cues from the students "doing" and not their "saying" when assessing their abilities and skills levels for leadership but for anything else really.
- Ability to somehow engage everyone in the process because many chose not to participate but to play games on their own instead. This was fine in general just did not have the same level of engagement I think I would like to try to have moving forward if possible.