© 2019 by Sarah Cornette

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Considerations for Educators

When I tried to think of what I would tell other educators about this project, in my head it ended up sounding like a list of tips.  Very efficient. If you try this project or one like it with your community or one you are visiting, consider this:

 

  • Get really clear about your purpose.  When you are at a critical decision-making point, ask yourself, does this achieve my purpose or undermine it?  Be ready to allow the project to look like kids made it--your purpose will shine through that much more clearly.  

 

  • If you don’t know the students already, educate yourself about their special needs.  Especially if you are working with traumatized populations--there are best practices that will protect you and the children, and help you make this experience positive for them.   

 

  • If you are not already a teacher for the children, identify and recruit adult collaborators who have an established relationship with the kids.  This is critical for many reasons: they become a bridge to quickly establish trust and rapport, they can help you locate resources, and they can help you better understand the impact your project will have on the community.

 

  • Real collaboration requires plenty of time, if you want a satisfying outcome for everyone. If you run short, make sure you let the group know and allow them to make choices.

 

  • Have a plan AND be ready to be flexible.  It is scary when things go off track. Have faith in your skills and in the power of the art making to support the process.  When you allow it to be, the act of creation is incredibly empowering for everyone in the group.

 

  • Consider saying yes when other people are inspired to join you, even if you have to change your plan or expand your thinking about the project.  

 

  • Lead from behind.  Don’t solve problems too quickly for the children, even if you become uncomfortable and anxious.  Breathe, remind yourself that these experiences are part of real creative problem solving, and make sure you point that out to the children.  Your fallback question: What other solutions can we think of to solve this problem?

 

  • Take time to talk with the group after the art making is finished to collaboratively create a narrative of your journey.  You will find their depths surprising.

 

  • No matter how tired you are or how persistent you have to be, get direct feedback, written or recorded if possible, from the children.  You will find their words invaluable later as you evaluate the impact of your work.