Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
What? Summer is Over?
“Success is following the pattern of life one enjoys most.” — Al Capp
Welcome back to school! Like most of you I’m still wondering where the summer months went. Every year in June I make a mental list of all the things I’m going to accomplish in the summer, and every August when I’m packing my bag to go back to school I wonder why I didn’t get anything done!
I do get a chance to travel, relax a bit, reflect on the past school year, and make some art. The week before I go back to school is when I start to get busy: unit planners, art show dates, and purchasing new “stuff” for my room. I’m sure that many of you also do the mad rush before school starts, but here are some tips to ease you into the new school year.
Never Throw Away Those Scraps. A student needs help figuring out a line, shape or some part of a puzzling composition. You, the teacher, don’t want to draw on the child’s art to make your suggestions so you reach for that box or basket of recycled paper that sits in the middle of the room. Barbara Owen, from Tenacre Country Day School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, cuts scrap paper into quarters. The container could be a nice basket or recycled grocery store mushroom container—the important thing is that it’s easily accessible to both teachers and students for explaining or testing out ideas.
Color Code It. Thelma Halloran from Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in Old Lyme, Connecticut, helps students identify the correct drying rack for their class quickly and easily by laying sheets of the same color construction paper or oak tag on the rack shelf. This allows you to say, “put your work on the blue side of the drying rack” when you need to give cleanup directions in a hurry. It also keeps artwork from sagging in the shelf openings.
Where to Start? Cheryl Maney, Pre-K-12 Visual Arts Specialist from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, always starts her year with self-portraits. Crayon for first grade, crayon outline and watercolor for second, marker for third, collage for fourth, and colored pencils or tempera paint for fifth.
Many of her teachers place the portraits on the desks so parents can identify their child’s chair on curriculum night. Others hang them along the wall to say, “Our class welcomes you!” Many enhanced the self-portraits by adding arms that bent out from the wall to hold a book. Others had students create bodies out of butcher paper or craft paper, and tape them to chairs like Flat Stanley. Parents had a great collection of self-portraits as their child progressed through school.
No Substitute for This Tip. Be like Mary Jane Long from Fairview Elementary School in Dover, and Hartly Elementary School in Hartly, Delaware, and get a “Sub Tub” for your substitutes to use throughout the school year. Everything they need is in the tub and it is always on the edge of her desk ready to go.
The tub has everything the teacher would need to know; schedule, seating charts, behavior systems, safety procedures, lesson ideas, extra work, general information, and a photo tour of her classroom. Most of her lesson ideas are from the famous, “Anti-coloring Books,” written by Susan Striker. She even has boxes of crayons, pencils, and a white erase marker in the tub. A substitute is a guest in her classroom and she wants to make sure they have everything they need to be successful.
Organizing Your Pins. Joyce Dorian from Pucketts Mill Elementary School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, loves Pinterest. It is a huge resource for her and she has thousands of pins and tons of boards.
While she is very organized on her virtual boards, she still needs and uses a real book. She uses self-adhesive divider tabs to make sections in her journal, writing on the tabs to organize the school year, then she prints out pins and glues them in the journal. She has a section for each grade, art club, art show, and extra ideas. She has been doing this now for several years and these books have been invaluable.
Happy birthday Yasuo Kuniyoshi (Sept. 1, 1893), Jacob Lawrence (Sept. 7, 1917), Charles Dana Gibson (Sept. 14, 1867), Dale Chihuly (Sept. 20, 1941), Louise Nevelson (Sept. 23, 1899), and Al Capp (Sept. 28, 1909).
Thank you, Barbara, Thelma, Cheryl, MaryJane, and Joyce for great tips to start off the new year.
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: