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I teach middle school also and even though your students are older, Lorena,
I think the same rules, in a sense, apply here. They will give you EXACTLY
what you expect of them. If you let them get by with all that "stuff" about
whining, complaining and general excuse-making, they'll do just that. If
you present examples, maybe, of what other elem. teachers have done in the
past, they might get a better sense of what's possible. They're probably
just too afraid of risk-taking. Isn't that what we're all trying to do with
creativity (in-a-nutshell!)? I expect a tremendous amount of quality with
my students and I generally get just that! Keep your expectations
high...there is definitely a super reason to do so. Talking about their
individual goals and quality of their individual pieces aloud and in
writing makes each project in succession easier to comply with what you
want them to attain. If they talk about "why" they did something, they'll
"think" harder about the next project/goal. It still amazes me what my
students "tell" me about their artwork in writing/orally and all the
"why's". Their thoughts and emotions just blow me away!!!
Ken Rohrer had (don't know if he still has) a great write-up of students on
his site (THE INCREDIBLE ART DEPARTMENT) who are collectively missing arms
or legs, etc. and still accomplish incredible challenges in the artworld.
When I get "excuses" from kids, I generally refer to these artists and it
stops the whinin' to the quick!
Los Cerros Middle School
Danville, California 94526