Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why My Classroom is Always One Hot Mess

One of the toughest parts of my job is logistical.  I know in my heart of hearts that folks have no idea of the amount of physical preparation art teachers have to do every day.  This work often frantically happens in the time between classes.  When classes show up early or late, it throws a monkey wrench into an already tight schedule.

Today I had five classes using four different media.

The prep for the first class was for second grade.  They were painting clay sculptures and then varnishing them.
I had to.........put out clay sculptures that they made last time....put out block tempera....fill coffee cans with water...put brushes of different sizes in each can.....get out scrap paper to put under clay pieces....set up table for varnishing....cover table with plastic....pour varish (water soluble and non-toxic, btw) into smaller containers....set out brushes.....fill basins for washing hands....



The prep for the second class was for preschool.  This group made a printing plate and then printed from them. 
empty basins from last class....no time to put supplies away from first class.....cover tables with paper....fill boxes with foam pieces....cut 18 pieces of cardboard for printing plates....fill six trays with paint....set out paint brushes at each table...take out paper for printing...fill basins for hand washing...prepare paper for printing....prepare a set of everything at the front of the room for my demonstration...


My third class was fifth grade.  They worked in clay.
....remove paper covering tables from preschool....put away boxes of foam pieces....clean paint trays and brushes from last class.....move art work from the first class...clean brushes full of varnish...put away containers of varnish...remove plastic that was covering table...put away tempera paint...wash brushes...empty basins for hand washing...get out 25 pound box of clay....get out clay tools....get out clay stamps...get out paper for students to put clay on....find boxes to put clay sculptures in when they are finished....find PowerPoint that goes with the lesson....refill basins for hand washing...


My fourth class was second grade again.  This was another class of painting and varnishing.
......put away all of the clay supplies from the last class....empty basins for hand washing...return the room to the same state it was for my first class..............put out clay sculptures that they made last time....put out block tempera....fill coffee cans with water...put brushes of different sizes in each can.....get out scrap paper to put under clay pieces....set up table for varnishing....cover table with plastic....pour varish (water soluble and non-toxic, btw) into smaller containers....set out brushes.....fill basins for washing hands....

My last class was first grade.  They made clay sculptures.
......no time to put away supplies from last class....pull out another 25 pound box of clay....empty basins for hand washing....put tables close together so that I can monitor all 20 plus six year olds easily....pull out paper for the students to put their clay on....pull out clay tools.... set out containers of slip....refill basins for hand washing....find new boxes to put sculptures in....cut clay to size...

End of day....ten minutes before I can head home.....put away clay sculptures...cover leftover clay so that it stays moist....put away tools...paper...slip...clean tables....move tables back to where they belong.....return chairs to where they belong....clean up everything from my fourth class...move their sculptures....wash and store brushes....empty water cans....put varnish containers away....put away plastic covering on table....wash table...answer phone call from the office about rescheduling Art Club photos the next day...email applicable teachers about the change...


....go downstairs to the kiln and crank it to "high"....collect my belongings....turn off computer....go home.

Grading?  Some other time.  Organizing for tomorrow?  I come in 45 minutes early in the morning to do that.  If my room ever appears tidy, it doesn't last long.  You just learn to live with it.

20 comments:

Kathy said...

I'm with you there! Isn't it something that a schedule for the art teacher can go with some strange order of younger grades then older kids then younger ones. Makes no sense to me, but that's the way my schedule came out on some days too. Your room looks very neat and tidy!

Phyl said...

Oh, you're preaching to the choir!! This is the story of all of our lives, isn't it?!! How can an art room NOT be a hot mess with a schedule like that?! Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

I don't know about you, but it seems like I'm the last person to leave the building every day. The other teachers don't get it, don't understand our prep and cleanup.

For a number of years, I've volunteered for a schedule committee. I don't do it for anyone else; it's self-preservation. I fight for getting my classes "stacked" by grade level, and the fact that I'm there in the room fighting for it definitely has helped. My schedule has improved significantly since I fought to be on the committee.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Wow Jan, I guess I just never thought about this before and we don't have an art teacher (a terrible shame imho). You should get teacher of he year annually! I hope you rest in the evenings?!

tishalou said...

Love it!! And that's what kills me when the classroom teachers whine whenever we get more minutes without kids then they do! If only it were apples to apples. But sorry we are oranges!! With 600 students and 6 preps a day it's just not the same as teaching the same kids and the same grade level all day long.

Julie said...

Oh, dang, Jan...if I did that every day I would be a peice of dead meat!!! Good grief! Don't know where you get the strength to clean your own house! Let alone go on those monster bike rides!

Anonymous said...

I have been there! It helps to be part of the scheduling committee if possible. I wish, when I was teaching, that I would have made the other teachers in my building aware of all this prep work1

ArtTeachersHateGlitter said...

Ooh... at least you get time in between your classes for transition. My classes come back to back. I love having to transition from Kindergarten and immediately jump into Sixth grade. Or from fifth grade to Kindergarten. I have piles and piles of stuff in my room that I keep meaning to get around to working on... but... there's always tomorrow, right? Or not.

Kati said...

I don't get time in between classes either but we art teachers are a resilient bunch! From another teacher I gleaned a great tool. 'Squiggles time.' The first five minutes of every class the kids sit and draw. It's a shape or line and they have to finish the picture however they want. It's a time for them to do their own thing instead of my lesson. But most importantly, it's a time for me to prep!!!!!

Flash said...

Looks pretty good considering how many kids use it. I hope the parents know how fortunate they are to have you teaching and taking care of their children.

Paintedpaper said...

yep! feel your pain- that is why I do clay for a whole week everyone works with clay. I it so much easier for clean up and prep. On the other hand it is one week of really dry hands! :)

Art Project Girl said...

For some reason my back to back classes only work when I give them 13-15 minutesof the hour for cleanup and closure. Today I let them work an extra 5 minutes Big mistake! We were running like crazy to get cleaned up! Hate chaos! I hate having projects stacked up to grade too. I have to come to terms w grading. I feel your pain. . . In my legs and feet at the end of the day!

Fine Lines said...

Those back-to-back classes are killers!! And 5 to 10 minutes isn't much better. I feel like I need roller skates during that time. I do have the luxury of having all grade levels grouped together, but clean-up and set-up are still a challenge. Last week I chose a few of kids who finished early to do the start of the set-up for me ( put out fresh newspaper, clean water and brushes) as other kids started to finish. It worked pretty well and I only had to do the finishing touches.

I always love when I've just about finished running around changing materials between classes and a new class and teacher arrive at the door asking, "Are you all ready for us?" and I, skidding to a stop, trying to look cool and collected, calmly say, "Sure, come on in."

Isn't it great that, despite all this, we all still think teaching is fun!! Such a rare breed we are!!

Phyl said...

I've already left a comment, but I'm lovin' reading this stuff. Nice to know I'm not alone. I'll stay in school till 7pm on Fridays (really) and it looks SO nice Monday morning, but by the end of the day... the piles are back. I think we are like choreographers. Gotta plan the movement and location of STUFF rather than of people. Keeps us strong, and gives us a sense of humor, I guess!!

Chan Bliss said...

My classes are three classes back to back then lunch then two classes. Of course all the grade levels are mixed up. That is why all the grade levels use the same materials each day.

4pam said...

Somehow it is MY house (or parts of it) that art mess tends to stick to. I have no classroom, but have been graced with 10 to 20 minutes between classes to dump materials from one and prep for another. And the classes are small, thank heavens! That helps. I do make an imprint AFTER classes, though, as I have no place to dry things but the kitchen counters! I let them stay overnight and gather them up the next morning and put them away in their class portfolios. I also teach homeschool classes, in a home. I store all the art materials for those in my house, too. But with no workspace of my own at school, something is always traveling back and forth with me, in addition to the stuff I keep for homeschoolers. We spent Christmas break trying to organize and contain my art stuff! I have to admit, though: it's all my favorite kind of mess. :-)

jackie said...

I applaud you for documenting this, cause I think you are right - people have no idea! I just want to give you a hearty pat on the back and tell you that you are appreciated!

adlib said...

Ugghhh! Thanks for relieving my on-going guilt!

Bridgett said...

I hear you! That's my work every day! And that's exactly why I lost 25 pounds my first year of teaching without being on a diet!lol The moving all day is unbelievable!

ART-tivist Mommy said...

love the pictures......got your link from NAEA site on the conversation of time being used for reading and math.....how do we follow your blog?

Miriam Cutelis
http://murchart.blogspot.com
http://mommyactivist,blogspot,com

Country Gone City said...

Sad, but this is encouraging for me. I feel like my room is a field of "piles". I, fortunately, have 1st-5th grade in that order. I don't have prep time in between, but am fortunate to have conference after 2nd grade and lunch after 3rd grade. I have the kids pass out and pick up supplies normally. It's the only way I can make it work. They sit in tables of 6, and assigned "letters", so I can ask A's to pick up brushes, B's art work, etc, etc. I think it's all about perspective. I had a guest speaker in my room last week, and she commented that she loved being in the art room, because there is so much fun stuff to look at. I guess I'm used to it!