Although some prefer to paint quietly (myself included), art is innately collaborative; it's easy to paint and talk to friends at the same time. Most of my courses are in the Art Mac Lab and I try to get students off of the computer and working with one another. My classroom setup is the first way to get students working together -- I put them in small groups. Looking back to my days as a student teacher, I found early on that when I made personal connections with students, they were more interested in the class and also respected me as a teacher.
"My favorite part about being in class is that if everyone is friendly towards each other."
I hope that all teachers reading this make an effort to create a collaborative atmosphere. Here are some ways I suggest doing that:
How to create a collaborative classroom environment:
- Get to know your students. Ask about their interests, which can include sports, games, clubs, and out of school activities. You'd be amazed at what your students do and don't share with you unless you ask.
- Assess your classroom. Does it foster not only learning, but creativity and collaboration? Try moving the tables around for a day. Have your students help you move them. Include them in the setup of the classroom.
- Get students out of their seats and working with others. It's important to keep students actively working with others in order to avoid those awkward no-talking moments.
- Let students work together with their friends every once in a while.
- Tell students stories so they can get to know you a bit better.