Art Teachers & Organization
Art Teachers and organization are seldom considered synonymous. Most think of art teachers as these eclectic beings that are on the edge of the education world. They look, dress, and act differently than regular classroom teachers. Their rooms are often nothing short of a colorful garbage dump!
At times, we may walk around the school with paint on our faces or construction paper stuck to our shoes. Our classrooms may “appear” a bit messy in the midst or aftermath of the creative process. We may also have random art supplies stick out of our pockets, or somehow attached to our person. However, this does not have to be the artistic stereotype.
I am the extreme opposite of what most people think of when they think of an art teacher. I would not expect anyone to live up to my issues…I mean standards. At times I wish I could be a bit more carefree, but my seeming OCD does not allow for me to cut loose so easily (though I have gotten better since getting married and having small children! Ha ha). However, I believe there is a balance art teachers must achieve to be the most effective. The start of a school year is a great time to evaluate your organizational practices and challenge yourself to improve in this area.
CLASSROOM LAYOUT: There is no one right way to organize your classroom. Every room is different, classroom furniture is not the same size/shape/quantity, and even lighting and heating can play into how you lay out your room. I have been in portables, regular classrooms, and actual art rooms. Each time I considered the needs of my students and the needs of my teaching. Sometimes the room presents problems that you just have to deal with. My first classroom (which was destroyed at the end of my first year of teaching by the 1998 tornados that went through Nashville!) had two “support” poles in the middle of the room. I was thankful for it, but that was not ideal by any means! It also had no storage units, no sink, and heating/cooling “units” that I could not set students beside. All of these things influenced how I handled layout & organization. You need to factor in classroom management when it comes to your room layout. Are you able to arrange the tables in a way to space out students that might not need to be together. You also must consider students with special needs. Are they going to be able to get around your room?
STORING SUPPLIES: Once again, there is no right way to organize your supplies. There is, however, a wrong way. Not knowing what you have or not being able to access your supplies easily impacts your teaching. Time is something we cannot get back. Wasting time searching for that thing you need for that project you want to do is needless. Though it does take time to get everything organized, the time you save when it comes to being inspired by the materials you have, getting lessons ready, or preparing to order supplies is well worth it. Over the years I have come to rely heavily on plastic containers. This started with my storageless portable. They do cost money, and some just don’t have the means to purchase such things. Pinterest & your own creativity can find a million cheap solutions for your storage and organizational needs. Plastic food/drink containers, cans, boxes…there are so many possibilities to get yourself started in organizing your supplies.
If you are not a neat freak or have struggled with organization in your classroom….just pick one thing to focus on in the beginning. Maybe it is the everyday supplies your students use most often…or the surplus supplies you’ve just been throwing in a cabinet. If you have a friend that is a little OCD/neat freakish …ask them to come by and help out. Great way to spend time with a friend…AND GET YOUR ROOM ORGANIZED!! The payoff in the end will be well worth the time you put into it!
To read more from Ted Edinger, visit his blog at artwithmre.blogspot.com.