It’s interesting how the pupil / teacher relationship can be balanced or unbalanced in one direction or the other and the way that pupils may influence teacher practice and the projects being completed in class.
For example, a search of photography terms may result in a pupil looking first at timelapse and then moving on to photography timeslices. A discussion with the teacher in turn may spark insight for a teacher’s teaching practice, in-class exemplars or their own personal practice. This happened last week with a pupil who is particularly reflective, but doesn’t necessarily appreciate the positive impact he has on others around him or the way he might spark the imagination of others and his own imagination.
Getting that level of engagement and balance right seems to lead to better engagement is class. Again, where pupils are given the option to paint in a process-led way, they may come up with ideas and outcomes that they had otherwise been limited in creating. To an extent you can follow a class’ lead then by giving them a little more freedom and by nurturing a culture of trust in the classroom.
Pupils were working on a tattoo design creating abstract, painted colour backgrounds and enjoying experimenting with colour, wetness and painted media in a way they haven’t been able to build up their skill before. That in turn, inspired me as their teacher and allowed a basis for their project to be restricted visually with design development led by the pupils themselves. Again, this seemed to lead to better engagement overall, at least on an anecdotal class level.
Sometimes the balance can seem one sided, either where the pupils behaviour defines what the class can engage in, or where the teacher’s lesson or project is deemed uninspiring by pupils. As a teacher you can feel like you are on to a losing battle and this can begin to create a negative relationship with a class. Process as well as subject and content can be used as way to engage pupils, but there is also the argument that any process ought to be skills driven.
It’s not just about creating opportunities for a socially constructivist classroom where possible, but about getting to a point where there is a process-based back and forth between pupils and teachers and their work can impact on each other’s practice.