1. Keep records of EVERYTHING.
For example, supply orders. If I had remembered to keep copies of quotes and such I would not have ordered an abundance of light blue paper. Gosh that light blue construction paper, I will never have to order any of that for a few years. SERIOUSLY. Also behavior issues, documentation is key if you ever have to call parents or write a referral, but also good for taking time to brag on students who do really well! Also keeping records of which artwork/student is in the art show so you don't repeat the same students year after year.
2. Get out of the room more AND learn the names of everyone on STAFF.
Art teachers can sometimes turn into solitary creatures resembling moles...they stay in their room, burrow in, and never venture out into the hallways unless summoned by a faculty meeting or the copy room. The first year I ate lunch in my room a lot, I learned quickly I needed to make sure I was connecting with the entire staff. I didn't want to be the one referred to as "Oh, the art teacher in room 103..." Art effects everyone, therefore I should try and get to know everyone, or at the very least know their name.
3. Build a creative network.
I never realized how many art teachers were on the internet, let alone had such great ideas and were willing to share them! Not only that, I wish I had spent more time with the art teachers in my district the first year.
4. It's okay to take a day off.
The kids will survive one day without you. A sub will come in and it'll be OKAY. I used to worry obsessively about who would come in my art room if I had to get a substitute and if they would be able to teach what we were covering etc... I learned to get over that, but I still try not to be out unless it's absolutely necessary.
5. Attend the state and national conferences.
The first year I could have gone to TAEA, but I declined. I was too worried about missing time in the art room with my students! When I did finally go the next year I was so glad! Such a great community and lots of great ideas and resources shared! It helps me feel like I'm not alone in the universe.
6. Never wear your favorite pink capri pants to school. NEVER.
Something(oil based house paint from a students project)will inevitably get on them and stain them. Then you take them to the dry cleaner(after you wash them at school in the Life classroom, thank God for that extra pair of black pants in my gym bag) as a desperate last chance of salvaging your favorite pink pants you will get the hanger back with a tag that says "We tried and tried, but couldn't get your stain out." One of my saddest days as an art teacher EVER.
7. Get a schedule and stick to it.
I still struggle with this sometimes, we know that chaos is sometimes just plain normal in the realm of art, but I try to have a schedule of certain duties each week that I want accomplished before the weekend. For example, inputting grades on Friday before I leave school, or making my lesson plans for next week on Wednesday before the weekend. Even updating my blog on specific days, this I think I've really come a long way on!
8. Plan your lessons like a sub is coming into your room.
Step by step instructions are key when it comes to the art lesson plan. When I didn't do that and I had a sub, I had to write it all over again with instructions, I had to think like someone who had no art background. It's good to be very detailed so that you don't have to rewrite lesson plans for subs and also when you have evaluations your administrator knows exactly what you're doing and why. The first year I taught I used the template left by my predecessor. After a while I felt like I needed to add more "meat" to it so I revamped it and created a whole new look. The design has changed several times over the last five years, I'll be posting more in depth about lesson plans next time.
I hope you can relate to these little bits of wisdom! As art educators it sometimes feels like we are alone in the universe so anything to help me feel like we're all in this together is a great help!
Enjoy the rest of your week and come back next time for a glimpse into how I make lesson plans!
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