I am taking a watercolor class. Like most art classes I’ve taken, the first few classes are frustrating for me. I feel defeated. I criticize myself over and over. This is very unattractive behavior, and my teacher is patient. He doesn’t praise me, though. He tells me that these techniques build upon each other. I am learning. It’s a process.
On Tuesday, I had my 4th class. It has taken me a while to create something I wanted to share with others. I finally pulled together the techniques into one art piece that I actually liked. My teacher pointed out the things I did well. The thin lines for branches, the shadows, the light. But still he held back. I said I was pleased with it, but he did not give out a great deal of empty praise. In fact, he told me to practice.
Sound familiar? How we try to lead our students through the writing process. We teach techniques. We look at models. We praise when we see a craft move. These lessons build a writer, but the process can be slow. It can be frustrating. Eventually, the writer will feel good about the product.
The motivation has to move away from teacher approval. The writer/artist must own the process to feel success.
My students have started the classroom Slice of Life Challenge. They are practicing. They are trying craft moves. They are noticing techniques in each other’s slices.
The creative process is a curious thing. We need to learn techniques. We need the guidance of teachers. But in the end, it’s just you and the paper. I believe in techniques, but I also believe in magic. Sometimes magic happens when you continue to show up.
I invite other teacher-bloggers to participate in this weekly meme, DigiLit Sunday. Link your posts up below.