Rolling With the Punches

This past September, I became an employee at a new school.  My world was turned upside down; new classroom; new colleagues; new admin; new students. I tried desperately to cling to my old ways, the routines and structures of the past, but most times I had to let them go in favor of building new ones.  Kids were not used to me; I was not used to them or the school culture.  I had to roll with the punches, so to speak. It’s not easy being the new teacher.

As I sit here, during the final week of school, I look around my room and think of the enormous change I’ve been through; scheduling, new grading system, new school culture; adjustment to change was happening all year long.  I’m already experiencing a new change as I’ve just learned that my classroom will be changed.

Rolling with the punches was never my strong suit.  If this was 5 years ago, I would have had a real hard time with change.  Now I think I’ve become quite adept at change.

Have you had any major changes during this school year? How did you deal with them?

June in the Art Room

sunny day

It’s June, my grades are submitted, and I’ve completed my state exam proctoring schedule. These last few days of school are all about cleaning out, throwing out and putting things away.  Always a bittersweet event.

This year was so hectic that I often had to leave things as they were when transitioning to a new project.  Therefore, when I began to straighten up the classroom, I uncovered many treasures (“I was looking for that!!”)

The fun part is looking at the samples of projects we have done throughout the year.  I find myself smiling at how much fun it was to do, or how laborious it was to set up.  The easy part is getting rid of those broken crayons, tiny pastel pieces and dried out markers.  The hardest part is organizing papers.  Oh paper, how I hate thee.

I use boxes from the reams of paper we get in the teacher’s room to store desk items, project examples, and folders.  They are easy to label, and can easily be used again for gathering supplies or class projects.  I’ve had some boxes for 3 years running, they are pretty sturdy.

I clean the windowsills, cabinets and other surfaces with disinfecting wipes.  It smells like sunshine on a stick!

Last, I look past my empty classroom with bare walls and shelves and to the windows, where the sun is shining and summer is beckoning.  Until September, beloved Art Room!


Routines, Routines…

For me, the best part of teaching art isn’t the teaching.  It’s the part where you share the ideas and watch the students let go and create!


…before a single marker or paint brush is picked up, we go over routines.

Ah, routines.  Every Type A personality’s love; every Type B personality’s pain in the neck. I am a Type B personality, but having been married to a Type A for almost 20 years, I find myself craving routines and (gasp!) order.

There needs to be order in my classroom.  So the routines begin from Day 1 of instruction.  It used to feel like a waste of time for me to introduce and go over routines, but without them I couldn’t function.

I have gotten better over the years.  I would say that I spent the first 5 years winging it, and the last 5 years carefully crafting and honing my routines.  Now, I have a routine for everything.  Here are some examples:

  • Starting Artwork – no artwork will begin until there is a thumbnail or regular sketch completed.  This gives them time to brainstorm and plan.
  • Clean up – on project days, the last 10 minutes of class are dedicated to clean up.
  • Collecting Artwork– Each table seats 4 students; at the end of the period, the artwork goes in the folder assigned to that table.  One student is in charge of bringing the folder to the drawer designated to that class period.
  • Finishing Artwork – after each and every project, the student must fill out a self-assessment form or write an artist statement.  The kids know where the assessments are kept (I have a big pocket that is adhered to the wall by my board).  Once the assessment is done, it is submitted to me along with the artwork.

I could go on and on, but that would take forever.

Now I’d like to hear from you.  What routines have you established that work well?

Today Was Terrible

Today, my dream job has become a nightmare.

Today, I hate everything there is to being an art teacher.
There, I said it.
Maybe it’s that time of year where the students become careless, thoughtless and selfish.
Maybe it’s that time of year where I am all those things.
I’m sick of excuses, students who don’t clean up after themselves, projects that are never finished and therefore worthless and a waste of time and supplies.
I’m inundated with paperwork, exams that need to be written, deadlines to meet.
My classroom is a horrid mess.
I’m getting less sleep every night as the end of the semester approaches.
My appearance is crap, my eating habits are terrible, and I’ve stopped exercising.
I fall asleep like the dead and get up in the morning like a zombie.
I am in survival mode.
I wish it was June already.
Bad days come and go.
Mid-year slumps happen.
We have a 3 day weekend.
Thinking back to 10 years ago, I was extremely unhappy teaching other subjects.
So I’ll get up from the proverbial ground and dust myself off.
Half way through the year.
Time to recharge, reset and restart.
Today was just a bad day in the life of an art teacher.

Are You an Art Teacher?

Good!  I’ve been looking for people like you.

It doesn’t matter if you teach elementary, middle school or high school.  If you teach college level, great.  My goal is to interact with as many art teachers as possible to learn from, ask questions of, and to share with.

Call me G.  I wanted to call this blog Art Class Lady but that name was already taken.  Hence, Art Classy Lady.  It’s not what I wanted, but alright.  I teach in New York City here in the USA.  My students range from 10th to 12th grade.  This is my 10th year teaching art.

Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and how long you’ve taught art.  What’s your favorite lesson to teach?

Hope to here from you soon 🙂

Art Class(y) Lady

Art Classy

I’ve always wanted to write about working as an art teacher, but I could never keep up.  Here’s my new attempt.

As the sole art teacher in my school, it gets kinda lonely.  I love sharing ideas and always wished I had someone to exchange them with.  Just recently, a former classmate and friend of mine got hired to work as an art teacher in the same building (different school).  I’m so grateful.  We bounce ideas off each other and share projects all the time.

I would love some participation by other art teachers, or art / craft aficionados.

So, here is my question to you out there;  what should I discuss first?  Please comment and I will choose one subject per day.

If you are willing to share a story or a blog post, please contact me and I can share your post on the website.  Or, if you happen to have a blog of your own, please share the link here.

In the meantime, I will tool around here and try to make this blog nice looking. 😉


Art Classy Lady