I’ve been thinking about how I might grow Ian and Isaac’s artistic collab-
oration, and how I can use their work to nudge other children into collab-
orative work. I hung the photos I took of Ian and Isaac next to the easel,
along with the story of their work together. I added another hook and a
second smock to the wall next to the easel to suggest the possibility of two
children painting together at the easel.

I want to think more about how we can build collaboration into our
work with each art medium we take up. Next week we’ll begin exploring
clay in the studio. I want to give each child time to work on her own, to
get to know the clay, but I also want to offer opportunities for children to
explore and shape the clay together. When I was learning to be a teacher,
I was taught to make sure that all the children have plenty of materials so
that they don’t have to worry about taking turns or sharing. I’ve ques-
tioned that conventional notion, though, as I’ve worked with children.

I see great value in collaboration, in focusing on shared effort and shared
accomplishment. Ian and Isaac’s work at the easel rekindled my commit-
ment to keep questioning my practices and to push myself to create more
opportunities (and expectations) for collaboration.

Begin a dialogue with families
Invite families to share their thinking with you. Ask families to help you
understand how the children’s play fits with their lives, values, and culture.

Ask families for suggestions about next steps. Include in your written
documentation questions like these:
k Have you seen your child engage in this sort of play or exploration in
other contexts?
k How does this play reflect or challenge your family’s beliefs, values, or
practices? k What do you think is meaningful about this play for your child?
k What are you curious about in relation to this play or exploration?
Does anything about this play surprise you?
How would you like us to explore the ideas embedded in this play
k together as a community?
I’m curious about what you think of the balance between individual effort
and collaboration. How does Ian and Isaac’s work as “artists together” fit
with what you hope for your child? Does it leave you with a sense of what
you want me to do as their teacher? I’d really like to hear your thoughts
about this. Please jot a note on this documentation story, give me a call
during my planning time, or send me an email with your thoughts.

COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL General Guidelines for Studio Explorations 35