Over the past couple of weeks I have learned a whole lot about teaching and leading in a classroom setting. My classes are 3 hours for 5 days and how I fill that time is completely up to me. Woah, that is a lot of freedom and responsibility...
I teach with one main goal that my students are creative, expressive and make something they are proud of. I like to allow for choices and freedom which may mean they face obstacles and mistakes. They may get upset, with me or themselves or the silly tiny piece of wire that just won't bend the right way. Then they figure it out. It is that shining, spectacular light bulb moment that I teach for.
Balance is the little piece of wire I have been struggling with all summer. I want to find the perfect balance between freedom and direction. I like to give demonstrations and guidelines but that can also limit my students' creativity because then they will simply copy what I am doing. They will probably mimic me perfectly without mistakes and then no light bulb moment. Where is the creativity in that? On the other hand if I give my students complete and total free reign, my classroom will turn into a chaotic war zone, glue, wire and paint flying everywhere. They will not be able to focus on one thing that they could learn and grow from, so again no Ah Ha moment.
I have turned to simple demonstrations followed with free make time to find a pretty good balance (pretty good, as in nothing is ever perfect. I am only human). At the beginning of the class I outline the project, give an example and show them the techniques they need to know. Then I always give some suggestions on how they can explore the material and personalize their work. Then its Go time! You can see the knobs and wheels turning in their heads as their tiny fingers start moving and the room gets quite. The quite never lasts but hopefully their drive and focus on making something they are proud of does.
God is our great teacher. No I am not comparing myself to God in my classroom. Not even close because God is perfect, with never ending patience and mercy. He gives us free will to make and do things which sometimes means we run into obstacles because we make mistakes and this world is not perfect (that is an understatement. Have you seen the news lately?).
Life is tough, sometimes I wish that God had just not given me so much free will and that I just mimicked him and did everything perfectly all the time. But free will is love. Love is God watching His children make giant messes until they fix the problem and experience the light bulb moment. No free will would mean no light bulb moment and no personality or individuality. That would be pretty boring and sad. Our Heavenly Father is the great teacher who is with us always, guiding and supporting us so that we can be the best we can be and make something we are proud of. He also gave us a demonstration on how to live in the world, that demos name was Jesus. He was flesh but also perfect and holy. He loved without boundaries and was selfless and humble even when surrounded by temptation. Like any good demonstration it shows us the end product goal, shows us how to get there and then lets us go and create!