Once in a while we change our routines, and habits, or throw away the old as they say. When this happens we wrap our heads around coming up with new strategies to effectively organize, and run our classrooms. I have tried many of the common routines you are normally taught in university, such as call and respond or classroom jobs. However, I have found they did not always work for my teaching style. After much reflection, tweaking over the years, and guidance from more experienced coworkers, I have come up with my top tips for managing and keeping organized an art classroom.
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First, let’s talk about Managing completed and incomplete work. I have a bin for students to hand in their completed work and a bin for incomplete work. You can choose to have one bin for each and then just quickly empty them before the next class starts and stick it all into a class folder or bin. Otherwise you would have to have an inbox/incomplete bin for each classroom- which could work is you have somewhere to store it and pull it out when that group is in your classroom.
They either need to have a place or be brought. I have seen them stored in bins, and brought to class. Whatever the case may be you should decide on a proper routine for sketchbooks in your classroom. In my opinion, I think it’s best to ask students to being their sketchbook each class. They need to Learn to be independent and this will free you up space in your classroom. I believe in setting clear expectations and guidelines with sketchbooks. I want them to use them creatively, take risks, but also produce quality work. Therefore, I use a unit which has sketchbook prompts that I can both project and glue in. These units are available in my TpT store and you can find the link for them in the comment section.
Look for ideas on Instagram. Follow your favorite art teachers and the hashtag #artteachersoftpt or #artteachersofinsta or #artteachersofig. Here you will find loads of inspiration on how to teach and what to teach your kids. You will also find ideas for how to organize your classroom.
Use the same mediums through all your classes, no matter the age or type of project. This means you can keep the same mediums and materials out all day long, or depending on your schedule, days long. Less prep, less clean up, less clutter, less chaos.
Keep organized and document your thinking. Create a year long plan for your grade groups and know where you’re going so you don’t ever feel panicked. And write notes for your next year’s self for what worked well and what needed to be changed. I like to put post it notes on my lesson plans with my thoughts as I teach, so then next year when I look at my plan I can see my brilliant ideas and re-use or add them. Do the thinking once, be planned forever. I keep post-it notes everywhere and jot down my thoughts right away because I will forget in 30 seconds.
Find Resources on TpT. My favorite way to find art resources and art projects on TpT. There are many art teachers on TeachersPayTeachers. There are some that truly provide strong options for art lessons, art projects, and art units. I try and make an effort to search “art lessons” or “art project” or specific units or ideas such as “Valentine’s Day Art Project” or “Color theory” or “Elements of Art” and go from there. When I find a store I like, I make sure I hit the green star at the top to follow their store. This allows their new products they release to show up on my TpT front page and so that I can see their latest releases in the “New Releases by your Favorite Teacher Authors” email. I also tend to find and follow them on Instagram to get more insight and ideas. Make sure you remember the stores you like so you can return to them later.
Have a classroom routine system for clean up and take down. For me, I have kids beat the teacher for clean up in 5 minutes. To beat me, the room must be perfect in 5 minutes (everything). I have one kid be time keeper, one is table checker. If its perfect, they get a point. If not, I get a point. If the get to 10 points, PRIZE! If not… Punishment, muahahaha (of course, they also like their punishment usually. My kids crack me up! And, I’m not so good at “punishing” whatever that really means).
DON’T HOARD. All us art teachers keep anything that might be useful one day. Well, I’ve had stuff that might be useful one day for over 7 years. This year, to spark joy 😉 in my classroom, I am recycling or gifting it all away. I haven’t used it in 7 year and it was taking up storage space and creating clutter.
Try out these suggestions and see what works best for you. Maybe one of these will help you focus your art teaching practice a bit more or simplify things so that you can spend more time doing what you really love… like teaching? Or making art? Eating Pizza. Reading a book? Having a late night drink? Bath… Walk in the park? Spending time with your family? Pick one or two to try, add more of these tips into your routine later.
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