Recently one of my classes took on the monumental task of creating a cardboard “city”. I had shown them a photo I found on Pinterest. I asked them if they were interested in this and they said they were and were excited to try and build something in the same vein. I knew that it would be difficult. I save cardboard for ever it seemed. I also knew the skill level of my students. I would never had expected them to rise to this level. But I did expect more.
My students originally thought they would make a ship, but somehow they changed it to a castle. I thought, that is going to be great. They will cut out brick and make it look like a bas relief. Wonderful. One of the students even said she would make a dragon to go with it.
As time went on and I checked on their progress, I grew more and more disappointed with the castle. It had a great basic shape, but other than that…it looked like something I would order out of one of those catalogs for prom. The covered the whole thing with craft paper and drew squares. These were my seniors, my advanced sculpture students, and they had over 2 months to work on this. How could this be what they created?
Now it is over a month later and I have had time to think about it. I still don’t know how to deal with the disappointment of this project. Should I consider it a project flop that Ian Sands could put in his book? Should I just brush it off as a early case of senioritis? Was I expecting too much? Did I not push them enough to do more? I know they learned a lot about creating something so large and working in a group. As a teacher, I appreciate what they learned from this project. But shouldn’t sometimes the product be important too?
I don’t know.
How do you deal with disappointment in projects? What do you as a teacher learn from it?
By the way, the dragon head turned out awesome.
It’s okay to be disappointed, and it’s definitely okay for things to flop, as long as you (and your students) have learned something from it. I have failed with a very similar project before–I think kids lose that initial excitement, and it’s tough for them to keep working when it becomes a grind; this is especially true in group work where kids think someone else will pick up their slack. That has been my experience, anyway, and these days I kinda stay away from big group projects.
But yeah, that dragon head is pretty impressive 🙂