I recommend to always discuss norms with students at the beginning of the year. It can take some time, especially with eighteen classes on a three-day rotation, but I know that having this student made document is very essential to the studio. It will be a driving force in all other aspects of the studio.
First and foremost, I believe that including students in this process will help in developing relationships with them. I found that the first time we did this process my students were surprised. Why?! I realized that it was not usual for a teacher to ask them for their opinions and ideas. (This practice is becoming more recognized with responsive classroom, SEL, and other education trends.) This is a great starting point to letting students know that their voice matters. They will see that you appreciate and care about them. In addition, having a set of studio norms that are student created, will not allow your students to hold a personal grudge against you. When issue arise students will be reminded that you did not create the studio norms…they did. This will take resentments out of the equation.
Furthermore, TAB classrooms are student-directed. That doesn’t have to mean that students only have choice in their art. “The classroom is their studio” is a part of the TAB philosophy. What other ways can students make decisions in the studio?
Students can help with deciding routines.
Students can decide studio organization.
Students can create clean up jobs.
When I transitioned to TAB, we had an end of day discussion. This discussion was to decide how we can set up the studio to run smoothly. They impressed me so much with their ideas on how to organize the materials. I still ask my students to help make decisions in the studio.
This year I used three categories: take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of the studio. (I believe these are from Julie Toole. Sorry I can’t remember who- Diane Jaquith maybe?) We have a class discussion by sitting on the rug. I just start with one category and write answers on the board.
Some usual responses I might hear are: “Don’t hit.” and “Don’t break art materials.” I instantly rephrase their sentence to remove the word don’t and what to do instead: “Keep your body to yourself” and “Use art materials respectful”.
Young children do what they hear and see. Words and modeling matter!
When all classes give their input, I create a nice typed document for the wall. I present it the next time they come to class, and we review quickly and agree on them.
Studio Norms by Jessi Ruby
A place where I keep all of my thoughts on teaching an elementary Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) classroom.
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