As we prepared for this week Anne and I debated wether we would have enough time to actually create an authentic student driven inquiry lesson. The more we thought about it the more we realized that we might have to prompt them a little more than in an actual inquiry unit. So we decided we would create an arts collective that centred around the theme of bullying. Using the poem “To This Day” by Shayne Koyczan we will introduce the topic of bullying and the art as a response to social issues. In the end I think that this decision will work in the time frame we have and the students ability to choose their own method of response will give them a chance to respond authentically.
Both Anne and I felt good coming into this weeks lesson. The goal was to create a lesson that was engaging and fun but still challenged the students and met curricular outcomes. We thought that an arts collective and a chance to share their responses would be just that. It also seemed like a nice way to finish our time in the classroom. The collective pulled together many of our lessons and gave students a chance to showcase their talents. The lesson started really well but we knew that using a powerful piece like “To This Day” had a risk of triggering some deep emotions. Unfortunately it did– one of our students started to cry quite heavily during the poem. This was the advantage of team teaching a challenging lesson. Since Anne and I knew the lesson inside and out I knew that either of us could step out and the other could continue. So I took the student out in to the hall to have a moment with them. Once we were in the hall I let the student tell me a bit about why they were so upset. Once they had a chance to calm down and told me a bit about how they have struggled with bullies since they were young. I let the student know that part of the reason we were creating this work was so that we could share our experiences and help each other and people who are struggling. This particular student is a great visual artist so I challenged them togo back in and create something that would have helped them get through their experiences of bullying when they were young. There was one group of boys who all chose to work together that I probably would not have grouped if I was making the groups but because this week was about choice, freedom and expression that is the risk we took. They found it very difficult to stay on task and had this been my own room or not our final day I think I would have asked them to do something else instead of participating in the class. I know that it is a bit selfish but I wanted to end on a positive note so I encouraged them to produce something to show and didn’t push them too hard.
This lesson went really well. For the most part students were engaged the whole way through and they produced art that they were really happy with. The time to share at the end was great and the students were really engaged with each others products. There was a really nice and very unexpected moment where the students who started the class feeling emotional and not wanting to participate showed her poster to the rest of the class and presented it in a very mature and confident way. It was the most well spoken I had seen that student all year. I knew there were risks broaching a subject like bullying in such an emotional way but in this case the risk matched the reward.
For Next Week:
I’m going to miss being at Lakeview a lot. I’ll go visit before the students leave for the holidays!