December 30, 2010

TOP 10 Art Teacher Time Savers

Jessica at The Art of Education has asked us to post our time saver secrets. . . 

If I have the opportunity to get into school early, I usually keep my door closed so no one knows I'm there! Once people know the art teacher is in (especially in the morning) in come special requests or just talking and collaborating. I love to talk!

 If you are going to the other side of the room. . . bring something with you!

I spent many many extra hours cleaning out other art teachers stuff in the summers. I can't work in a crazy space. 
I also create files for every lesson I do that is good. I include all handouts, books, student samples (anything that will fit) in my filing cabinet. It took me a few days in the summer but it was the best time I ever spent. Now I just add to it and pull out lessons quickly. 
After 4 years of creating a foundation, I can actually leave at our scheduled contract time most days.

and if they act like they can't. . . they don't do the project. This one is tough for me but I've gotten a lot better. If  there are a few in a class can't handle doing a project (due to behavior) I carry on with the students who are ready. The others watch their peers (which is a great model) and I let them wonder why they haven't gotten their materials. I slowly give the materials to students who follow expectations. If a kid has to observe their peers for one week it's not the end of the world. But if they do the project when they are not ready and create chaos they've turned my planning time into cleaning time!

I love my iPhone for work there are lists on it, reminders that buzz before school starts "remember to bring the paper plates in today", a camera to photograph works in progress, and of course it is my new watch!
For kids who finish early I have them do something that is purposefully not fun. I know. . . sounds terrible, but once I give out "fun" jobs everyone rushes to complete their art to help. I have been getting a lot more "on task" behavior when I tell early finishers to write in their notebook. AND it saves me time by not having to come up with new projects every week to simply "entertain" students because they are rushing through their work. 

Why do kids always want to put up my chairs at the end of the day and wash the tables instead of going to recess? I have a stash of granola bars and other healthy snacks tucked away. Only a few kids know about the stash and they like it that way. I told them once the word gets out everyone is going to want their jobs! They especially like fresh fruit yum. If you work in an inner city you will totally understand this!

Students read and comment on each other's notebooks. It's not the same as a teacher comment but it is important that someone read their entries. I select what I will comment on. Students also go to each other for help during projects. My philosophy is totally collaboration.

I love having 5th grade mentors come in and help students in the Kindergarten. It helps save time having student mentors at each table reminding students how to clean up. 

Anytime I can make cleaning into a competition I do. Timers, competing tables, classes, it works! Knowing that they are being timed and judged saves ME time cleaning up later.  The key is to set your rules in advance. Do you want to make it who cleans up the fastest, or who cleans up the most efficiently? At the end of the clean up time I usually make a big deal about inspecting their work and commenting. I will call myself "The Queen of Clean" and dramatically check their space pointing out any thing they missed in my most "queenly" voice. The better the kids clean up the less I have to do later. 
I tell kids what my grandfather told me "Leave people and places BETTER then how you found them." That's the challenge.


Mrs. Art Teacher said...

we are not supposed to feel the wild animals...ahem my district, but being a super low income school I do. My kids LOVE string cheese, fruit cups(with mandarin oranges)crackers with cheeze or peanut butter in them and pretzels. I don't know if your school serves the kids breakfast like mine does, but when they have breakfast bars for the kids I grab a few extras for when I have really hungry kids.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous list, my friend! I would love to link up / compile lists from everyone. This will be great! If people do their own be sure to comment on my blog and I will do a post that compiles and links them all.

My favorite of yours? - Finished Early and Students Help Students. Took me a few years to realize both of these and both are things I need to continue to remember! Thanks for the reminder! You are awesome!

Jessica Balsley

Jennifer Matott (Sigmagirl) said...

Great tips! I find myself nodding along and now I'll go post my own list! Great idea for the new year!

Unknown said...

Yes we do get breakfasts. I don't really see the extras but that's something to look into! Hate the thought of food getting thrown away. You are so like me. If something as simple as a little snack at the end of the day is what need as long as it doesn't have peanuts:)

Can't wait to see all the list and lists of lists!

Nancie Kay said...

I enjoyed reading your list - gave me a new perspective on some things.
I try to leave my lights off in the morning too - to give myself more time to get ready for the day but I'm hiding from the students more than my peers!
For 'Kids Can' I've found that removing those with behavior issues to the library across the hall at the start of class (during demos esp.) and bringing them back in once everyone else is on task works too. Their 'audience' is otherwise occupied & they usually get right to work.
I like your idea about writing in journals when finished - our kids can always use extra practice! I also like to provide extra 2D and 3D activities ( but only after students meet the criteria for 'finished' work.
Thanks for the ideas!

Kati said...

#3 is my goal. Someday it will happen! Hopefully this summer? #4 is not an easy one but after reading your view, I am going to consciously try to let the kids who aren't ready watch. You're right, it turns prep into cleaning time. Also will definitely be starting #7. I created a prize box by cleaning out my personal supplies, inheriting stuff when my artist grandma moved from her house to her assisted living apartment and extra art room supplies that I don't have enough for a whole class to use. It was great for awhile! But now it's dwindling and the kids tell me it isn't much of a prize anymore. LOVE the healthy treats idea!

Melissa Gurcan said...

Love your post! I was laughing when I read number 6!!! I do exactly the same thing. Now the little ones don't rush through their project to be finished.