Friday, November 4, 2011

An Easy Fix

Sometimes a student completely misses the mark on an art project. When that happens, I usually try to figure out if it is a learning disability, a behavior problem (willfully not following directions), or something else I can learn to deal with. Over the past few weeks, I have gotten to know which students have disabilities or special needs that affect their success in my class, and have tried my best to help them overcome their obstacles. Today one of my kindergarten classes was completing a project on primary colors. I got this lesson plan from my cooperating teacher when I was student teaching last year. Each student was supposed to paint a gumball machine in primary colors:

A few students didn't quite follow the directions, and ended up with some secondary colors (i.e. green) in their gumball machines:

But one student completely missed the mark and turned in a painting that was completely black:

Since I had reviewed the directions and the primary colors over and over again for two weeks, I knew something was very wrong here. I decided to ask his teacher how he was doing in other subjects. She said, "He's doing great! He's very smart." That surprised me because he had completely messed up the subject and the requirements for color. I explained to her exactly what he had done in my class, and asked if she knew why that would have occurred.

She explained that this little boy is emotionally handicapped, and he is not comfortable with me yet. She said he always has a terrible day at school when there is a substitute teacher. However, the solution was easy: all I need to do is support him and encourage him frequently, talk to him a lot, and give him hugs. What an easy fix! Next week, I will make sure that he knows that I care about him and think he is doing an awesome job, and hopefully he will respond by doing well.


  1. I think you handled this situation well by talking to his teacher but I don't quite buy her opinion. I have worked with emotionally handicapped students attending art class with the "normal" students for 35 years and have not seen this kind of reaction in a student. If his teacher says that he is very bright, one would think that he could comprehend something as simple as the primary colors. More to the point, kids LOVE gumball machines. If he sees them as a black, muddy mess, he has bigger problems than his teacher thinks. I'm just sayin'.........

  2. I was surprised too, but I am going to try her solution and see what happens. It sounds like if he doesn't feel encouraged, successful, and at ease, he closes up.

  3. Interesting. How did he get the black paint?

    By the way - nice blog! I just discovered it via a comment you had left on mine. Unfortunately yahoo had sent some comments (including yours) to my spam folder - luckily I discovered them before they were deleted!

  4. It was watercolor paint, so every student had their own 8-color set. I purposely did it that way to assess if the students really learned what the primary colors are!

  5. To everyone who is interested in what happened with this student:

    I had him in class today, and I told him "good job!" frequently, and he did very well with every step of the project. He's very unsure of himself, so if he doesn't get positive reinforcement, he thinks he's done something wrong and changes his picture. During the black gumball incident, I had spent a lot of time with students on the other side of the room and didn't notice what he was doing until it was too late. I think he probably did paint his gumballs, and then felt like he did it all wrong when I didn't shower him with praise, and painted over it. Today he did a great job, and got lots of compliments from me. I took his picture as soon as it was done so he wouldn't ruin it. He's a very sweet kid, and now that I understand him, I am really enjoying having him in class!