When it comes to Back to School, a little panic sets in because of the unknown. We are unsure if any changes will happen in the school (which this year, there most likely will be), unsure of our schedule, unsure if there will be supplies budget cuts (why do they do this!?), unsure if the staff has changed significantly, unsure who the kids are… These are all unknowns. These are, for the most part, out of your control. We cannot worry about things we can’t control. We are instead, going to place out focus on things we CAN control. If we focus our attention here and get things we can control organized and prepped, it will make our back to school, as well as the year, a lot more stress-free. Isn’t that the goal anyway?
The best thing you can do would be to have a lot of your beginning of the year activities and units prepped and ready to go before the first day of school. If you’ve already started, consider making a plan for the next month and having those activities prepped so you can let your body and mind absorb all the changes. There is enough stress with back to school in general and you will need to spend a lot of time creating meaningful connections with your new students, so don’t add on the fact that you didn’t spend anytime planning. It’s never too late to plan, even when school has started.
Plan ahead, have success in the first two months.
This year, consider being flexible with your plan. Have a plan, but don’t make it set in stone. Plan with uncertainty in mind! For example, I would create a scope of the year or the next few months with art projects ideas or themes in mind, but keep it in the back of your mind that you will either choose to use limited mediums OR keep the mediums student choice. Think of art lessons that can be done either in person or remotely should things change or should districts suddenly change their minds without warning (something I hate).
This year, if you have a teacher planner, either write your plans out with PENCIL so you can adjust, OR write things on post-it notes so that you can stick and move things around in your planner instead of re-writing it. I like those bright packs of mini-post it notes that come in a variety of colors. You can use a different color for each grade group to keep yourself organized.
BACK TO SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
Plan for some ice breakers and community builders for the first month to 2 months. I would consider doing this longer into the year, even the first 2 months because kids don’t get the same level of social interaction as they used to, and some may have been in near isolation this entire time, which for a kid, must feel like eternity.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Use the same Art Lesson or Unit or Theme across multiple grades.
- You can use the same art lesson for a few similar grades, such as K,1, & 2 or 3,4, & 5. This way you’re planning a lot less. If you teach K-7 that is 2-3 Art Lessons instead of 7 individual ones.
2) Use the same Unit for a few similar grades. If you want to have a longer plan developed that goes deep into a topic, you can even use the same unit for similar grade groups. If you’re teaching the Element of Art: Line, teach the same presentations, show the same videos and give the same lessons on Line to the same group of grades. Cut down your planning. This will also cut down on different mediums/materials/prep/and set-up. Your time is VERY LIMITED with your kids this year so you need to make it count.
3) Use the same Theme! If you want, you can use the same Theme for ALL your classes. For example, we’re all going to explore the theme “Time” or “Past” or “Rainforest”. You can use the same YouTube videos, Powerpoints, and other introductory resources to pre-load kids for ALL your classes, and then give them grade-group art lessons around the same theme. This will also save time and keep you stress-free. Keep it simple. Be Strategic.
Download Free Art Worksheets for Kids
Click here to download free art worksheets that you can print to allow kids to explore art at home!
Know your Classroom Routines and Procedures before you start the year. If you’ve already started the year and haven’t thought hard about this, do it now. Write down your rules, routines, and procedures on paper. You can’t teach them if you don’t know yourself. As well, imagine a kid does something “wrong” but you never stated it was a wrong thing to do in the first place. They’d be really confused!
Or if you got upset with how they washed paint brushes but you never taught them how to do it… Not fair. Know them. Teach them well. You should probably model the important ones!
Think about what kind of routines will be necessary during this pandemic. How will your normal routines have changed? How are you going to teach them?
Try modeling your new routines and procedures to your students. SHOW them how you want your brushes washed. SHOW them how to line up. And practice it as a class! A lot! The more you, as a group, practice, the more efficient it will be later in the year. This is what BTS is all about!
•Materials: do they bring or do you have to allow time for sanitization? How will you do that?
•Sanitization of kids upon entry or leaving: allow time for you to give them a drop of hand sanitizer or time for them to wash their hands at the sink when they enter and leave.
•Lining up: How are you going to do this? Perhaps, give tables a color and do it in a ROYGBIV pattern that they know EVERY TIME they come in to make it quick. They can stand on colored dots or Xs on the floor. Reds first, orange second…etc. Yes, this is not typical fairness but time is limited and there is a lot of extra this year. As well, this will be a predictable routine in an unpredictable world.
•How are you going to teach? Side-by-side and small group instruction is out. You are wearing a mask (most likely). How are you going to ensure you can support your kids (the best you can) while still being seen and heard?
WALK AT LUNCH
Feeling stressed out? Overwhelmed? Not enough distance from your co-workers?
Take a mindful moment for yourself and go on a walk at lunch. I started doing this last year and not only did I get more steps into my day, I felt better! Remember, when you’re stressed, all kinds of bad things happen to your physical and mental health. You will comprimise your immunity on a normal year during cold and flu season… but now it is cold, flu AND COVID-19 season coming! So be sure to eat healthy, take your vitamins daily, drink LOTS of water, and walk. Being healthy and getting rid of your stress is the best thing that you can do for YOU right now during this pandemic when our jobs are now WAY TOO MUCH.
WATCH THE FULL WEBINAR: Top Tips for Back to School During a Pandemic for Art Teachers
Art Teachers, this is the WEBINAR REPLAY for “Top Tips for Back to School During a Pandemic” for Art Teachers teaching Art!
When it comes to Back to School, a little panic sets in because of the unknown. We are unsure if any changes will happen in the school (which this year, there most likely will be), unsure of our schedule, unsure if there will be supplies budget cuts (why do they do this!?), unsure if the staff has changed significantly, unsure who the kids are… These are all unknowns. These are, for the most part, out of your control. We cannot worry about things we can’t control. We are instead, going to place out focus on things we CAN control. If we focus our attention here and get things we can control organized and prepped, it will make our back to school, as well as the year, a lot more stress-free. Isn’t that the goal anyway? Here are my Top Tips for Teaching Art during BTS during a Pandemic! CLICK HERE TO SEE THE WEBINAR.
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Kathleen McGiveron (Ms Artastic)
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