So, you have to teach ART-from-a-CART next school year, eh? Due to new social distancing guidelines and/or budget cuts, many of us are heading back to a very different art teaching experience in the fall. My school was able to bring students back to campus 3 weeks before the end of this school year having all specialist push-in to the classrooms…literally. *Here are some of my top tips if you are staring the school year on a cart.
*Note that these tips relate more to teachers that have an art room or space to house most of their materials and the cart simply brings what they need for each lesson to each classroom. It is also good to note, that I was only teaching two grade levels from a cart for the last 3 weeks and both my cart and some of the procedures would not necessarily work long term but hopefully this will give you a little insight into how you may be able to teach ART-from-a-CART until social distance guidelines loosen or funding returns (I say a little pray from you).
Every classroom set-up is different and this can affect the way in which we set-up and clean-up our art lesson. Also, due to new social distancing measures it may be that groups of students are spread across to classrooms which was the case for me. To help you plan and prepare for the environment you are walking into, visit each classroom, snap a photo, take a few notes and create a document that you can reference later so you get your plans ready.
Implement the same management systems from the art room into the classroom. Although they may feel like they have home turf advantage, you need to make it clear that your rules, routines, and procedures are what they following when they have art with you. Whether it is a point system, Art Room Mantra or simply raising their hand instead of calling out, make it clear that it’s your lesson and they need to play by your rules.
I found it helpful to have the classroom teacher help to settle the students and acknowledge that it is time for our lesson. Just because you walk in the door does not mean the lesson begins as both you and the students need a moment to set-up and settle down. In my experience, asking each classroom teacher to help you with this makes a big difference.
You have to be extra organised when you are bringing all of your materials with you and remembering to take them all way when you leave. A top tip is to help you with this is to put away your examples, clean-up your demo areas and get yourself organised before students begin their clean-up. Once you have sorted yourself out, you can focus on the other aspects of the lesson without leaving half your cart behind.
Similar to the teacher transition, it is important to allow 1 to 2 minutes after clean-up to review key terms, a moment to review and reflect or even an informal group assessment before you wheel yourself away. Like the beginning of the lesson, this helps the classroom teacher transition in as well. Leaving while the classroom is still cleaning-up doesn’t allow for closure to the class so plan a couple minutes to again settle students and partner with the classroom teacher to ensure their next transition goes smoothly as well.
Art Cart Management
When it comes to your cart, everyone will have a different system but one organisation item that helped me is large trays. With the ability to stack and layer, using trays to put materials on allows for more room on your cart and easy distribution and collection.
Bring your own magnets with you as not all classrooms have them. They are really handy for displaying examples on the board as long as you have them.
Use the sides
If your cart it metal you can also use the sides for transitions of workshops and materials but also for display purposes. Most times classroom boars will have writing on them so in lieu of putting things up on the board, you can display them on the side of your cart.
Student Help with tidy
Plan your clean-up procedures around what students can help you do. It is handy to demonstrate how students can put materials away on the cart so you don’t have to. Rather it is putting their materials back on trays or putting things back directly on the cart, setting these expectations can help save you time and energy in your lesson.
Pacing is really important for any lesson but even more so when you are in someone else’s space. Some teacher’s will be okay with having you run over a few minutes and other’s will not so to help you stay on schedule, set alarms on your phone to keep you on track. I have the Tidy-up Tinkle alarm as well as an alarm that plays music when I should be leaving which I find really helpful to ensure I finish on time.
Let’s face it! Having an art room is the ideal scenario and we would all prefer to have an art room but whether your situation is permeant or short term, I hope these ten tips are helpful as we are all in this together – the more we can share and stay positive the better out lessons will be for our students. Stay safe out there, and watch your toes!