January 12, 2014


collaborative circle painting
Sometimes we all just need time to practice and make mistakes with no judgements.  There are days in my art room called NO JUDGEMENT DAY. This means no one (not even the teacher) can say "that is great" or "work on this" because just like constructive criticism, positive enforcement can be a form of judging. Kids in the older grades understand this and look forward to these practice days. It is interesting to see how many times you are ready to say "Nice Job" and have to stop yourself. Even the students catch me sometimes during these "no judgement days." It is great for the kids who seek constant praise as well, it helps them focus on their process and not worry about the product.

I forgot about how important this was until a student reminded me. Here's a recent story of why NO JUDGEMENT days are important to kids development. 

Long after I introduced NO JUDGEMENT DAY my quietest student said 

"My last teacher used to hold up my work all the time and tell everyone it was good. I like that you don't do that."

"Didn't it feel good to know your teacher liked your work?" I asked thinking maybe he actually missed this positive praise.

"It would make the other kids feel like their work wasn't as good and that made me feel bad. I just like to make art. I don't want my friends to feel like they're not as good as me." 

I felt bad all around. The teacher probably thought he/she was doing a great thing by showcasing his work. Meanwhile, this quiet, sensitive, kid who I hardly knew myself was probably not gaining much favor with friends. 

It's really important to be careful how we talk about students work. We are all guilty of rushing our comments, me included, so let's make a point to slow down every so often. Even positives can be damaging when they are not used in a thoughtful way. Try a no judgement day for the fun of it, especially with the older students. It's harder then it sounds! Most importantly, talk about a NO JUDGEMENT day before you start it! You'll be surprise what a weight is lifted from classroom and how better communication will be developed when we are all forced to go beyond positive reinforcement and constructive criticism!


cassie stephens said...

Wow. I love this post so much. And what a sensitive and thoughtful child! To think of his friends feelings, that's a unique individual! I agree, I say, "nice job!" a lot which then inspires about 10 kids to hold up their work and ask, "do you like mine?!" It's tough...you want to praise and encourage but you have to choose your words carefully. Thank you for reminding me and for this great post. Love the idea of NO JUDGEMENT DAYS!

Lauren said...

I love this idea! I am guilty of holding up a students work and saying how awesome it is, not realizing it could hurt another child! Out of the mouths of babes!
Thanks for posting this, I think I will have a no judgement day soon!

Xo, Lauren of www.cornwellfam.com