Whether you are in survival mode as a new teacher, just back in the classroom after maternity leave, getting over an illness, or have 20 years experience under your belt, where do you find the time?
In my opinion, just like investing money earns interest (or at least it USED to earn interest, ha!), you can invest time in getting organized to save yourself time later on. You can make sure that everything in your classroom has a place and label things so student or parent volunteers can help you. Shelly Bailey gets parent volunteers to come help her in her classroom at least once per week! Also, I always keep digital files of lesson plans, rubrics, study guides, and tests so I can pull them up and "tweak" them according to whatever I happen to be doing. You don't have to "re-invent the wheel!"
**Mrs. Matott has some really good time-saving/organizational tips on her blog, Got Art?
**Jessica Balsley also has some great tips for saving time at theartofeducation.
A really good way to give yourself some stress relief is to have all your classes use the same medium for a few weeks, such as to have ALL the kids do a painting and just have a variety of assignments. Right now my students are all using glue and scissors to create Huichol Indian yarn paintings (6th grade) and paper mosaics based on Ancient Rome (7th/8th grades). We can leave the glue and scissors out on the tables all day long, with no frenzied switching out between 6th and 8th grade. Whew! (After using clay for a few weeks with 7th and 8th grades and simultaneously painting with 6th grade, I needed some simplicity!)
Another thing that helps me save time is to assign "Art Aides." I rotate the helpers once per week so every kid gets a turn helping pass out materials, running errands, hanging artwork, etc. This is written on a small dry-erase board that hangs permanently on one of my classroom doors. (I teach 7 classes, but the enrichment class isn't listed on the chart). I hardly ever have a student who doesn't want to help, and usually the kids who have behavior issues are so delighted they are being given some responsibility that they behave themselves (at least for that week :).
In her book, A Retired Art Teacher Tells All, Marlene Johnt takes this a step further and assigns her student monitors a grade for their work. She says if she cleans up after all her kids at the end of each day there would be nothing left but a shell of an art teacher! We all know how true that is!
An elementary art teacher writes:
"Biggest concern- so many students, so little time! Having just 30 minutes with K-5 makes it hard to do clay and sculpture activities. Trying to work in the messier, ‘harder’ production lessons is a challenge with fundraiser deadlines, art shows, etc. Add working in art history, literacy, math, and science connections and it seems like there is less and less time for messy exploration/learning from mistakes. You want art to be a little more organic than other classes but sometimes it is difficult to meet goals if you loosen the reigns of a schedule too much."
A middle school teacher writes:
"Biggest Concern- Planning for students that miss class A LOT. Intervention and absentees make up the biggest part of my headache. Constantly catching kids up and having to stop and explain an entire day of class in about 3 minutes."
Beth Bachuss, high school, writes:
concern: Time. Time to do a good job teaching, planning, promoting
our program, getting
colleges in to speak with the students, organizing/hanging/taking down
art exhibits, and all the other things that teachers have to do -
paperwork, grading, etc.
A high school teacher writes, (My number one concern as an art teacher is that) "Many art teachers do not take the time to develop their own art production."
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE?