A Day In the Life

This Ain’t No Santa’s Workshop

As an art educator, I am not in the habit of taking time around any holiday to allow my students to make presents for family members during class time. I have a curriculum to teach. Even during the December Holidays. I know, shocking, right? I actually try to teach my students things during the month of December instead of busting out the glitter and Popsicle sticks and allowing them to make cheesy gifts. In aggravates me to no end when classroom teachers expect me to be the gift-making shop around the holidays. In my opinion, it’s not my job. Take time from your instructional time and do it in your classroom, don’t expect me to do it in mine.

That being said, your previous art teacher set the precedent of coordinating her clay lessons to be ready to go home before Winter Break so students can give them as gifts, it might be a good idea to tell the new, part-time art teacher in your school. Don’t, for example, show up for class during the first week of December and ask if your 1st graders will have their clay pot finished in time for break. Chances are your art teacher will respond with a blank stare as she tries to control her internal frustration and slight panic as she quickly calculates how many art classes are left before break.

It would probably be in your best interest, as a classroom teacher, to inform the new art teacher of any project expectations with plenty of notice. That way, the poor art teacher can adequately plan for making the pots, allowing time for them to dry, fire the pots, have the students glaze the pots and then fire the pots once more, all in time for your precious gift giving tradition.

[Deep breath]

And furthermore, if you happen to be one of those art teachers who has set this sort of precedent, it wouldn’t kill you to fill in the new art teacher on any project expectations, such as clay gifts, that you have set up. Unless you want to be responsible for breaking the little hearts of the two groups of first graders who won’t be bringing gifts home to their families because their new art teacher didn’t know that she was expected to do this.


It’s been a long week, folks, a long week.


11 thoughts on “This Ain’t No Santa’s Workshop

  1. I get frustrated about the same thing. Everyone always wants the art teacher to create cheesy gifts for Christmas. I refuse too. I actually refuse to do any “Christmas” related project at all. We don't make Santa, reindeer, or elf projects at Christmas. When ever a teacher asks me to do this, I immediately say NO. I will however do winter themed projects, just not holiday ones.


  2. We only see the kids 3-4 times in the month of December. Some classes miss too because of holiday assemblies and field trips. That is not enough time to make presents. The teachers see the kids for indoor recess, etc. They can definitely take on that expectation that the kids have!


  3. The only 'holiday' stuff I do is if kids want to do something on their own time during lunch. It drives me crazy what people expect! The craziest was this October, when I found a note on my desk from a parent of a 5th grader, asking me to make patterns for 28 bats, with size dimensions specified. I felt bad for the kid who had been given the task of delivering the note. I pretended I never saw the note at all. I mean, I never even put up Halloween decorations at my OWN house, why should I do hers?
    Thank goodness I'm Jewish. It makes not doing Christmas much easier.


  4. I have Muslims, Jews, Christians and people who have no religious affiliation. I don't make any holiday related items unless I am teaching about all holidays. I'm not going to make Hanukkah decor so why would I make Christmas gifts in the classroom? This holiday crafting in the classroom never made sense to me. Unless you are teaching at a school where everyone celebrates the same religion (like a Catholic school) or you are teaching about different beliefs in different religions, then I really think it should just be kept out.

    Having said that, I have taken the time in December to take each of the three weeks to teach about Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. I know that isn't covering everything but it is covering the winter holidays and showing the kids that other people celebrate different things and that's OK.


  5. I work at a fairly new school, and the first year we were opened several teachers let me know they expected Christmas gifts and Mother's Day gifts to come from my room.(eyes rolled at me when I said no). They wanted me to make the gifts so they could put them in their little cutesy bags and take the credit for making them. Oh no!
    I do Winter projects, and sometimes those projects can be used as a gift, but most are holiday generic. My K and 1 students made clay cookies with their initial or our mascot stamped on them. We put a hole in the top, for wearing or hanging or whatever:-) I sort of leave it up to the kid, if they want to holiday them up, so be it. If I chose to do something for Christmas, I do, but not for the classroom teacher's benefit.


  6. I agree. I try to mix it up and do what I want done- not the homeroom teacher! I try to add art concepts…like our Dubuffet Reindeer. They are damn cute by the way! We also do santa cookie plates that I love from potters clay (their first Kinder. experience with clay) …but these are things that encourage LEARNING! Not a cruddy pom-pom thing they could throw together on the way to Grandma's house!
    I even have a music teacher who is now very put off with me because he continues to expect that I give him my kids this month to practice for his concert. Sorry. I want to support him- but he is such a bulldozer with expectations I have finally just said NO! I have my calendar filled with just 2 emergency days to end on! I think I will start telling HIM that I need them from HIS class. How do you think that will go! 🙂 Humm!


  7. I agree. I was the new art teacher in my building last year. I was asked by Kindergarten teachers to continue the tradition of making Mother's day and Christmas gifts. I told them that I would not change my curriculum but if it fit into a unit or project that I was doing, I would let them know. I emailed everyone my art education philosophy and let them know that I do not have anything against holiday projects but would not be doing them in art class. I detailed my curriculum and why I teach the way I teach. It has been the best thing I ever did! They do not ask me anymore and if they are doing it in their classroom and are clueless as to how to do something, they ask me. I love it! I do create texture medallion/ ornaments with Kinders at holiday time and they do take them home as a “gift” but I make sure to attach a tag that details the skills learned and that it was made in art. I also do a papermaking project with kinders that results in seed paper shapes that go on a card for Mother's day (we make 2 shapes – one for art and one for the class). I was going to do it anyways, but was happy to fit it in that time of year (great for May when it's warm outside!). So, I do get annoyed but if I can make it work and not dumb down my curriculum but rather enhance theirs with mine, I'm all good! I also insist they purchase the wrappings and card materials… I do not do that part! I think this will be a post on my blog too! I love that you say what we are all thinking!


  8. Pingback: ATHG Presents: 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

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