In the Art Room

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make

Raise your hand if you maybe consider yourself a seasoned art teacher, but you still, maybe, make mistakes of a first year teacher. Me! Me! Me! There are still times, after almost ten years in the classroom, when I find myself shaking my head, thinking, “Why? Why? When will I learn?” I’m sure I’m not alone, right? Right…?

8 Rooie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comFor the life of me, I cannot figure out how my wardrobe has evolved into a collection of mostly black, white and grey clothing. I can only imagine it is because bright pops of color look much more vivid and striking against these neutrals. Unfortunately, art materials look striking against these colors as well. Paint, oil pastels, clay dust, burlap threads, marker, yarn fuzz… Until I can afford to replace my entire ensemble with busy, concealing, patterned clothing, I will continue walking around school with clay hand prints (my own) on my ass.

One of these days, I’m going to get my Art Teachers Hate Overalls Tumblr up and running again. It’s on my to-do list, because evidently I don’t already have enough on my plate.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comThis is probably rookie mistake 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comnumero uno, and yet, after 10 years in a classroom, I still forget that I need to model, model, model. Don’t get me wrong, I’m great at modeling a lesson, but when it comes to getting supplies out, or putting artwork away, or washing brushes, I fall short. I’m working on it though, because it means less work for me in the long run.

I’ve been streamlining my supply distribution and my new paint station this year, and it really helps. I have very little storage or flat surfaces in my current room, but I had a wall full of coat hooks. I dug out a whole stack of grocery store reusable beverage bags (ahem) and purchased (affiliate) these condiment bottles with some PTA money, and voila! A very functional paint station that the students know how to use! Because I modeled it for them. Many times.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comAt the beginning of the school year, I review classroom routines every single art class. This lasts for about the first quarter. Then I get lazy and assume students remember how to clean-up or line-up or move around the classroom. And then things fall apart. One of my evaluation goals this year is to really reinforce procedures and routines in my room. It helps. Things go so much more smoothly when we review.

A couple of summers ago, I took the Managing the Art Room course from AOE. It really helped me brush up my management skills, and introduced me to Clean-Up Maps and visuals for routines. So helpful!

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comSo. Many. Keys. I have six 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comdifferent keys on my ring this year. Different meaning they all open different doors, not that they all look different. I have no idea which key opens which door. I’m the fool that stands there, out in the cold, trying four different keys in the modular door before I find the right one. You would think that I would have found a way to label them by now, but nope. Still struggling.

I think I’m finally going to break down and buy some of those key cap things. Something like (affiliate) these or these, but these are super cute too.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comThere are only so many ways one can get around not calling a student by their first name. And I’ve used them all. Part of this has to do with my fear of mispronouncing their names. Yes, kids, even adults experience panic at the thought of public humiliation. Sure, I have no qualms about busting out my sick air guitar skills in the middle of third grade art, but, holy Hannah, don’t let me mispronounce “Mrudula” wrong. Again.

The other reason I don’t know anyone’s name is because I legit suck at remembering faces and names. Seriously, if you were to tell me that there was a real condition that made it gosh darn difficult to connect faces with names, I would jump up and down, hands in the air, declaring, “That’s me! That’s me!”

I know, there are many tricks out their for learning names, but the best solution I’ve come up with is taking attendance. Every day. Not only do I take attendance, I make sure to say each name out loud as I’m looking at the student. Confession: this is one of those things I’m really good at for one or two quarters, and then I start getting lazy, neglect to connect names with faces, or stop taking attendance altogether, and then I legit forget students’ names.

I actually use an app, TeacherKit, that allows me to take attendance and make seating charts WITH student pictures (with permission, of course). It has a lot of other cool features, but I mostly use it for attendance, seating charts and behavior.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comWhy do I keep doing this!? 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comI suppose I just expect that our paper towel dispenser will be well stocked. I should know better. One of these days I’m going to do what all of you smart people do, and request extra rolls for my room. It’s on my to-do list.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.comIf you send one, you gotta send them all. Amiright?  I should really stop letting students use the bathroom during art class. It is SO disruptive, and as soon as one hears someone has to go, they all have to go. I’m very nervous about not letting students use the bathroom though, especially after this incident, about 12 years ago!

So, I came up with a new bathroom rule this year, no bathroom passes during the first ten minutes, or the last ten minutes, of art (and definitely not during demonstration time). It’s working. I find most students need to use the bathroom during instruction time or clean-up time. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Students rarely ask to use the bathroom while they are actually engaged and working, and if they do, I can usually tell it’s a legit emergency.

It should be noted, these passes don’t actually travel to the bathroom with students, they’re placed at students’ empty seats. We have a rule that kids go to the bathroom in boy/girl pairs, but I think I might get (affiliate) these for next year, because I do break therule from time to time.

8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make athglitter.com“Any questions? Yes, Johnny.” 8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make“This one time, I think it was last week, or maybe yesterday, my cat threw up in our kitchen, and then started licking it, and…” Hands start shooting up around the room. Johnny got to tell a story! I need to tell a story! Nooooooooo….

I fall for this one every time. Every time. Especially with the younger kids. I see my students once a week, and they genuinely get excited to share their lives with me, and I want them to, it’s just, we don’t have time. If you let one, you gotta let them all. Amiright? I try to get the students to save their stories for work time. Most of the time, they forget about them, but not always. I do love hearing their stories.

What are some rookie mistakes you still find yourself making? Let me know in the comments!


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17 thoughts on “8 Rookie Mistakes I Still Make

  1. Sara says:

    Mine is asking a yes or no question to the entire class. Then I get a bunch of kids screaming yes and no back and forth, aggressively escalating. I ALWAY think, Why the hell did I do that AGAIN? I vow to next time quietly ask ONE, good, quiet kid my question.

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  2. I can relate to every one of these except the keys…and that’s only because I wear all of mine with my ID badge on a lanyard! Today I wore black pants with a black cardigan…and taught four middle school ceramics classes. Needless to say, I did not stop at the grocery on the way home. Loved your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another Art Teacher says:

    I have been teaching at the same school for five years with mostly the same kids and I still forget names. It’s always the quiet ones, the one’s whose names I don’t repeat 10 times a class. Oh…and I consistently mis-pronounce the same names year after year. It’s now become a joke and we laugh because now I’m mis-pronouncing them because I can’t remember which pronunciation is right. 🙂

    I’d like to hear about your “paint station” and how that works. I’ve gotten to where I hate doing painting with the kids because it takes soooo long to get out and put away supplies, it just doesn’t seem worth it.

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  4. Gina Booth says:

    Never ask aloud “Where is my grade book?” Kids then get the idea how entertaining it would be to move it or hide it. Besides, each time it’s temporarily lost it turns out it’s me who misplaced it. If a student hides a girls purse for entertainment don’t play the game. I simply announce with horror in my eyes the true fact that, “some things I loose in this messy room don’t turn up till I clean in the summer. Too bad!” And go on teaching. Someone always mysteriously “finds” the purse by bell.

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  5. Pronouncing Mrdula wrong…. again. LOL!!! I just came off of a long term sub job in a highly diverse school; one that I taught in for 13 years. Pretty quickly I learned to have one student come up and silently help me check off attendance for the class. Aside from mispronoucing half the names, I just can’t deal with all the varieties of “pre-sent,” “HERE!,” “he’s here….no he’s not….yes he is,” and pretending to be someone they are not. Ugh. Just ugh.

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    • Ooh. And it starts early. My kinders like to see how many different ways they can say “here” before I shut it down. They’re favorite responses are usually food related, “hot dog!” I don’t get it.

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  6. I am thankful that at my home school, my students are required to wear name tags – we have over 1000 kids after all! Also in one of my current classes I have 2 bathrooms (one for students and one for teachers) but you would be shocked at how many accidents there still are! I love your system of the signs for using the bathroom. And as for the keys, a cheaper option is to put a different colored sticker on each one. Do you have a post about your clean up map? I am intrigued! 🙂

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