Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What You See is What You Get

Welp, this is my art room this year.  Yup.  This is the whole thing.  Actually, there is also a teacher's bathroom in a little hall by the foyer, with space for my drying rack and a cart of supplies.  But what you see here is basically what you get.

 Our school is bursting at the seams this year.  When I came to this school nine years ago, we had 2 art teachers and we were both on a cart.  Both the classroom teachers and I hated art on a cart, so the principal found spaces for us to teach.  300+ additional students later and we still have 2 art teachers.  With every available space in use as regular classroom space, both of us art teachers are in teeny tiny rooms, neither intended to be classrooms.

My old classroom, originally created as a library in the 60's or 70's, is a first grade classroom now.  My principal and I tried to figure out where to create an art space this year, knowing that I might have to revert to an art on a cart.  This little room was the best idea that we could come up with.  Classroom teachers HAAAAAAAAAATE having art on a cart in their rooms and I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE running around pushing one.  A trailer was a possibility, but there is no water source in them.  This space has a bathroom sink nearby, so at least I can fill a bucket of water for washing hands as needed.

Some challenges, I don't mind.  Altering a physical space to meet my needs is at least a challenge I can work with. 

My tables and stools would not work in this room, so they remain in what is now a first grade class.  I did not want to give up some of the pieces of equipment that I have worked to acquire over these years so I have utilized them as work spaces. Since the chart cases are table height to the average student, I decided to have them be student work surfaces. The wide shelving units left over by the room's former state as a workroom, remain.  They also provide work space as well as storage.

Since there is no room for chairs, my students will work standing this year. Surprisingly, I have yet to have one student complain about standing to work.  During our lesson and discussion time,  students sit on the carpeted floor, on fancy duct tape lines marking where they are to sit.  Again, no complaints from the students.

The only real problem I have encountered with this arrangement is that some of the pieces of equipment are just too tall for some students.  I have a table in the back where I now make sure the shorter students go.  

Though my school is flush with SmartBoards, I have no room for one.  I covered a bulletin board with white paper and use it as a projector screen.  My kids think that is hilarious.  I think they are hilarious for thinking that is hilarious.

So far, I have enjoyed all my classes.  The classroom teachers,  fine arts teachers and special ed teachers that bring kids to and from my class, have been a joy.  The instructional assistants that come in, are invaluable too.  With students I enjoy and the camaraderie of coworkers, the stress of being in this little space gets minimized.  Let's hope I can say that 8 months from now.


Phyl said...

I have had a beautiful room for 11 years, but I have not always had a room at all. So I do understand. But I'm trying to picture a class-ful of kindergartners in your room. Must be a challenge! Good luck, Jan!

Art Project Girl said...

No Chairs!!! I can't imagine. I have no idea how you do it! A joy that is amazing, good for you. The first few weeks for us are intense as we work on behavior, behavior, behavior. I know the word joy won't come in my vocabulary until November. Space is important but not everything! Enjoy your year!

sallgood said...

I've done the cart thing too- and it's not fun! I haul stuff from school to school, and my dream would be to teach at one school, in one a room meant to be a room, not a closet! :D

(Flexibility is a lifeskill, and you are being a good example of that!!!)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jan .. sounds like you're making the best deal for the kids and you .. and giving them a chance too .. but that's great they're standing up - a different view on 'working' ..

Love that you all laugh together .. cheers Hilary

Chan Bliss said...

Wow I thought I had a small room, it is 21x19 feet, but yours looks smaller.
Get your principal to buy you a smartboard to mount on the wall with a short throw projector, that is how I am able to fit a smartboard in my room.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

Good for you for making the best of what you've got. As long as the kids have dedicated teachers who really care, they will thrive.

LDH said...

Happy to hear you are enjoying your classes and the staff that interface with you. A new year must be exciting even in a very small space.

Pat said...


I congratulate you for making the best of an uncomfortable situation. I taught on a cart for ten years(still using one at 1 building of 3 this year)and had a room as small as yours for several years with tables of 6 and 7 kids with classes of 36. I don't know where the inner well of grit and determination lies, but we both have it in spades! Keep doing good work!

artteacher said...

I love how positive you are about it all! I was a traveler art teacher my first year in my district. I traveled to 6 different schools during the week and had no full days anywhere which meant my car was my office and lunch room on most days. At some of the schools I had rooms and others I was on a cart, but now I'm blessed with one of the largest rooms in our district and have been here for 7 years!!! I hope it gets better for you. Sounds like you have all the support you need. :)

Tahlia Newland said...

Well it's better than no room and it's light. I'm checking out your work on Etsy, I really must get my masks on there. Gotta get onto the aussie one.

For Art project girl - I got a few tips for behaviour behaviour behaviour and other tips for staying sane on my Teacher T-Party blog.

random Cindy said...

Great job making use of what you have!

My kids stand even when there are appropriate chairs, I don't know why. Maybe they like it?