Tomorrow is Pamela's fourth watercolor class. We did more homework this week than we did last week, so I am dedicating a separate post to our homework. Yes, OUR homework. I find room for improvement in every video I watch: ways in which I can be a better guide to Pamela and discoveries she can make as an apprentice. Homework provides a chance to make-up projects Pamela did not do during class, review things we both could be doing better, and preview new ideas to come. Last week, we painted a barn to prepare for a landscape with a barn that her teacher was considering teaching. Since Pamela processes new things more slowly, she will feel more competent tomorrow with one barn already under her belt.
Painting this apple accomplished several things. Pamela was too tired for a second project last week, so I painted an apple in class and she did hers as homework. I noticed that I had gotten away from making declarative comments and, in my efforts to help Pamela keep pace, was acting like Little Miss Socrates. While Pamela practiced watching for my starts and stops, I cut out the questions and fell back on spotlighting starts and stops through my non-verbal communication.
Today, we previewed a critical idea for Pamela. Last week, Pamela struggled to keep up for a couple of reasons. She watched her teacher very carefully and only started after her teacher did. Sometimes, Carrie would get a supply or assist a student and, if she had only given verbal instructions, Pamela would wait until she saw Carrie take the next step. Since Pamela was not sitting right next to anyone, she had nobody to reference. To rectify the situation and to give Pamela opportunities to practice referencing a classmate, her big brother helped us out.
I set up the table very deliberately. I put David between us, so that, when I be-bopped off to do the dishes, David was right next to her. I made sure that they had matching palettes, and that mine was the odd one out. Since Carrie gives new students extra verbal instruction to make up for what they missed, I did the same with David to simulate that scenario.
I timed my actions carefully. At first, I made sure Pamela was in the zone for following my lead. When I saw that she was comfortable with that, I shifted from working simultaneously to me taking an action (dabbing paint on my palette) to David copying me and finally Pamela copying him. Their identical palettes communicated their sameness non-verbally.
Not only did the pictures look great (Pamela's tie-dye look is above; mine is below on the right; David, below, left), but my plan also unfolded beautifully. After Pamela got in her groove, I got them going by getting a band of color started and running off to do the dishes. David handled his role as guide in absentia really well. Then, I gave him verbal instructions and Pamela followed his lead then too. My absolute favorite moment was when I was catching up from one of my stints doing the dishes. I was painting away when David decided to empty out his bowl to get clean water. Pamela watched him head to the sink. She looked at her dirty water and decided to do the same!