Bushido – The Start of a Stronger Classroom Community

3 Min Read  •  Student Engagement

As the start of the new school year quickly approaches, I found myself in need of a new classroom feel. As I begin my 12th year of teaching K-5 elementary art, I’ve found that a little reflection has lead me to ideas for lessons. In addition to, a new classroom management strategy I hope will build a stronger sense of community.


After having a wonderful experience at my spring  PD (Professional Development) workshop, I realized that it is much easier than thought. It’s never too late to revamp expectations in the classroom. While listening to our great speaker, Carolyn Armbruster, from the Trammell Crow Collection of Asian Art, she mentioned the Samurai. They were a group of people following a code of moral values, called Bushido. This code commonly stressed some combination of frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor to each other and one’s self.

In order to create a new classroom culture, I plan to meld the code of Bushido with Studio Habits of Mind. The Studio Habits of Mind were created by Project Zero out of Harvard, who also created Studio Thinking. This is way for teachers to get students to showcase their understanding through critical observation and self-understanding. Reading several articles about the Habits of Mind, by Art is Education, and Education Closet, I realized that they could easily be combined. This way, we can help students gain a well rounded art education experience.


Starting with Integrity, the understanding of being true to your decisions, and paired with Development; students will gain the knowledge of maintaining materials and tools, understanding the importance of a functional workspace in order to grow artistically.

Heroic Courage

Heroic Courage would pair with Engagement and Persistence. Finding strength through difficult challenges, showing perseverance and grit when working through difficult times allow for great levels of reward.


Honor and Envision, what you do is a reflection of who you are, however it is essential to use our mind’s eye to see endless positive possibilities for our future.

Duty and Loyalty

Duty and Loyalty accompany Expression; the choices we’ve made are ours and ours alone, to this end we need to be loyal to ourselves and our values then show emotions artistically, to portray them visually.


Respect and Observation sync together to illustrate how to work with others, maintaining composure and communication in spite of disagreements, by observing minute details, we learn to see from multiple viewpoints.


The ability to see various perspectives enhances Compassion and with Reflection we can assist each other and our community to then grow together by having helpful discussions about both other’s artwork and our own.


Rounding out all of these is Honesty and Sincerity along with Stretching and Exploring, we must know that speaking and doing are the same and not to worry about the mistakes, as mistakes are a part of the process and learning occurs within the process..


So my plan is to design my room in with a Japanese theme and start the year with a Japanese lesson (still in progress, it’s endless prep this time of year) to help tie into the first concept and follow with the rest of the virtues throughout the year.

Integrity = Develop

Heroic Courage = Engage/Persist

Honor = Envision

Duty/Loyalty = Express

Respect = Observe

Compassion = Reflect

Honesty/Sincerity = Stretch/Explore

While doing some searching online, I found this wonderful image (seen below) with descriptions of each virtue of the Bushido. Each one of these virtues is in line with the  expectations of our studio. By changing  the word “warriors” into “artists” we can create a visual of the expectations. I hope my ideas for building a stronger classroom community resonate with you. Moreover, i hope they help you think creatively as you reflect on the start of the school year.

virtues, The Start of a Stronger Classroom Community, Education Closet

Wishing you Creativity,

Matt Grundler