1. She shows up “late”. Art teachers get to school early. Insanely early. Like, an hour before contract time starts. What’s contract time? Um, think of it as the time you’re just getting out of bed. Yeah, I know, that’s early. When you’re sitting down to breakfast, your art teacher is on her third cup of bad staff room coffee and has already loaded the kiln, emptied the drying rack and prepped your supplies for the day. If you see an art teacher strolling in 20-30 minutes before contract time she’s “late” and has probably already checked out for the year. Whether it’s because she stayed up extra late the night before*, stopped for coffee on the way to school, or slept through her alarm, your art teacher is late. On second thought, this isn’t something you kids will ever notice, but trust me, it happens.
2. She dresses up. Art teachers rarely get the chance to dress up. No, that’s not a sub,** that woman in the art room wearing a black dress and sandals is actually your art teacher. If you are greeted by a well dressed art teacher, you can pretty much guarantee she has checked out. That’s right, you won’t be working with any real art supplies today. Color sheets for the win! On the other hand, if you happen to have one of those art teachers who regularly dresses professionally (it happens), then you can guarantee she’s checked out when she shows up to school, on a Thursday, wearing jeans and one of those free school shirts she shunned all year long.
3. You’re watching a movie during art class. Most teachers want to show movies at the end of the year, because, hello?, checked out, however, many schools don’t allow this. Art teachers are rebels. Art teachers will throw caution to the wind and show you a movie on your last day of art. Listen; if administration insists upon having specials up until the last minute of the last day of school, then you’re watching a movie. How else is your art teacher supposed to get the mandatory end of the year cleaning and packing done? Come in on her own time? Actually, she probably will, but you’re still watching a movie, dammit, so just sit down and enjoy it.***
4. You’re playing an art review game. Here’s a little secret. Review games aren’t a treat for you; they’re a necessary break from cutting paper and washing paint brushes that your art teacher desperately needs. And yes, it’s educational, and you review things you should have learned throughout the year, and blah, blah, blah, but that’s not the point. The point is, your art teacher is tired, her hands are scarred from a year’s worth of paper cuts and kiln burns, and if she just wants to stand in the front of the room tapping the SMARTBoard for an hour while you play Art Jeopardy, then so be it, because she has checked out.
5. She’s giving art supplies away. You know how your art teacher was on your case all year long about not taking supplies from the art room? Remember how she lectured you about why you couldn’t take the stitchery needles from the art room, instructing you on how you could make your own ghetto versions at home?+ Sharpie makers? Forget about it. Remember how she guarded her pencils like she was Gollum guarding her Precious? Now, all of a sudden, it’s the end of the year and she’s giving those things away. Clearly your art teacher has checked out. Also, she knows she’s getting new supplies next year, so yeah, take those stubby pencils and half dried up Sharpies. Yarn? Sure, take it. A bag full of used crayons? Old glue sticks? Well used Play-Doh? Yes. Take it all.
6. She’s falls asleep during class. Hey, cut her some slack. She was up late last night catching old episodes of Supernatural and Don’t Trust the B*tch in Apt 23 on Netflix. And she slept through her alarm this morning, again. And it’s dark in here, because, movie, duh, and she’s been running around all day trying to pack up her room. So yeah, you’re teacher nodded off during class this afternoon. Big whoop, she’s checked out, and so have you, dear students, so let’s just move on, shall we?
* As if that’s any different than any other night of the year. I’d be curious to hear how many art teachers consider themselves to be night owls. I know I do.
** True story, I had a student mistake me for a sub the other day. Could have been the dress, could have been the new haircut, hard to say.
*** I’ve been showing The Hero of Color City all week. I’ve watched it 8 times, and I have yet to see how it ends. It’s available on YouTube and Netflix.
+ Yarn taped to toothpicks, unfolded paper clips, those little blue flossers you use for braces…