5 Annoying Things Parents Say and Do At Art Shows

We had our pyramid art show last week. One of two I’m participating in this year. Maybe. If I get my act together for the second one. For those of you who are unfamiliar with “pyramids,” as I was up until about 5 years ago, here’s how it works. I work for a county wide school system. Within the county, we have regions. Within the regions, we have pyramids. Each pyramid consists of a high school, a couple of middle schools, and a handful of elementary schools. In our county, we have annual pyramid art shows (not individual school art shows as I was familiar with in the past). The shows are usually held at the pyramid’s high school. Get it?

But none of that is really relevant to this post, except that it will help you to understand the context of the content below. Regardless of the details of the art show, all art shows have one thing in common. Parents.

5 Annoying Things Parents Say and Do At Art Shows


1. “My daughter has had a piece of work in this show for the past three years. I don’t know why you didn’t choose her this year.”

Yes, but, your son has work on display, which is why you’re here, right? So…

2. “Do you work here?”

Hmmm… I’m sorry, what? As in, do I work here at this school, or do I work here at the show, which doesn’t really make sense, because none of us are really working right now, I mean, we’re not actually getting paid for this… Are you wondering if I’m a teacher, or a volunteer, or maybe you think I’m a high school student (yes, even at my advanced age, it still happens)? Did you not see my special art teacher t-shirt, or my school employee badge? What exactly is it that you want to know? Ohhhh! You need help. Well, sure, I’d be happy to help you. First off, “Do you work here?” is not a very polite way to approach someone. Why don’t you try this thing called common courtesy and start with an, “Excuse me,” because, believe it or not, I was actually engaged in a conversation with my colleague here. Next, try a “Can you help me?” That way, I know whether you’re looking for directions to the bathroom or you’re going to complain about the ridiculous way the show is set up before I admit to “working” here. Or not, depending on where you’re headed with this. What? You didn’t find that helpful? Oh, fine, the bathroom is around the corner on your left.

3. “But how come she has a 3 in art?”

Thank you for coming out tonight. You must be so proud to see your daughter’s work in the show. She worked really hard on this particular piece, and I wanted to acknowledge her effort here tonight. If you have any questions about her grade, you can email me or set up an appointment to meet with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, this man needs help finding the cafeteria.

4. “I’m not surprised you picked my child’s work for the show. You should see the stuff he makes at home. Everyone in our family thinks his spin art is great”

I’m sure they do.

5. “I can just move this over here, right?”

Of course you can! I’m so sorry we placed that other artwork so close to your child’s artwork. Please feel free to move it out of the way so you can get the perfect picture. I would hate to have some other child’s work clutter up your photo. Would you like me to adjust the lighting for you too?

What annoying things do parents say or do at your art shows?
A Day In the Life, Gripes

Dear 4th Grade Teacher

Dear 4th grade teacher,

Remember when I came to you, back in December, and asked you about the wall in your pods’ hallway with the empty cork strips? Remember when I asked you if the 4th grade team had any plans for them? And do you remember telling me that no, there were no plans because that space is usually left open for artwork? And remember how you excitedly invited me to hang up artwork? I was thrilled to have some display space, do you remember? My four sections of 4th grade students were working very hard on these beautiful drawings that I couldn’t wait to put on display. I knew space was limited, so I made sure to select pieces of work from each 4th grade class, this way, each group was represented fairly (truth be told, it was first-to-finish, first-to-be-displayed). I stayed late one night so I could get the work hung up before winter break. Everyone loved it. The principal came by my room and raved about the work. She even called it frameable. It really brightened up the hallway, a hallway that had previously been bare for three whole months.

Now, imagine my shock when I arrived at school this morning and discovered every single one of the drawings gone. And in their place, I found a few illustrated writing pieces. As a side note, let me say, kudos to you for making an effort to display your students’ work. I think it’s great to show off the hard work and effort that went into the pieces. But, the thing is, don’t you think you could have checked with me before you took down the drawings? I would have been more than happy to have cleared the space for you (although, I’m not sure why it was necessary to remove all 30 pieces of work I had on display for the three overflow writing pieces that didn’t fit on the other wall where the rest of the essays were displayed. Seems to me you could have just taped those three up next to the rest, but what do I know, you know?). More importantly though, don’t you think you should have checked with me before you made the decision to send them all home?

I suppose I shouldn’t blame you. I mean, how did you know they hadn’t been graded yet? And how would you have known that I wanted to keep some of the pieces for the art show? I mean, it’s not like we discussed it or anything, right? And yeah, I suppose I should have graded them before I displayed them, but the thing is, I’m only at your school two days a week, and with all the snow days and two-hour delays we’ve been having, those two days quickly turn in to a half day. As in, lately, I’ve been at your school for five hours a week. Shame on me for not getting them graded sooner. I should have known better.

On second thought, the drawings were on display for an entire month, so I guess it was time to change it up, although with the two week winter break, you could argue that they weren’t even seen during that time, so it doesn’t really count… but, I don’t know if you noticed the pumpkin patch paintings and fall trees the other art teacher has on display downstairs? No one’s taken those down yet. Not to mention the self-portraits that have been on display since September. But, yeah, clearly my 4th graders’ drawings needed to come down. And like your colleague mentioned when I approached you about the missing work, I’m sure the students still have them at home.

So, you know what? No biggie. In fact, than you for saving me the time it would have taken to remove the work myself. Not to mention the time it would have taken me to grade them. I really owe you one.



Wild-Card-2ndIn case you’ve been living under a rock, the results of The Art of Education’s annual Art Ed Blog of the Year contest were announced last weekend. Thank you to everyone who voted. Art Teachers Hate Glitter came in second place in the Wild Card category! Without your support, I may have given up this endeavor long ago. Thank you.


“I got it from Pinterest!”

Dear… Everyone,

That DIY Christmas gift you made? Precious. That art project you did with your students? Fabulous. Those leftovers you brought in to lunch the other day? Delicious. That headband you’re wearing? Cute. Those invitations you sent out? Stylish.

I love it all, and told you so, but here’s the thing, nothing annoys me more than when you reply with, “Thanks, I got it from Pinterest!” Stop it. Stop it right now. You didn’t get it from Pinterest. Saying you got an idea from Pinterest is like saying you read this great story in the library card catalog. Youquote wouldn’t say that, right? No one would, because it isn’t true. The library card catalog just pointed you in the right direction so you could find the story. So why, why, why do you continue to tell people that you got it from Pinterest? Pinterest is merely a catalog that directs you towards primary sources.

That cool lizard project you saw me make with my students? It came from Art. Paper. Scissors. Glue! who originally found it at The Paper Pear. That wreath I made for Halloween that you loved so much? It came from The Long Thread. Those awesome cinnamon bars that I brought in for the potluck? I got the recipe from Averie Cooks. And that, my friends, is how it’s done.

“Oh, but it’s so much easier to just say I found it on Pinterest.” Yes, yes it is, and maybe, in everyday conversation, I can forgive you, but for the love of creativity, don’t ever, ever source Pinterest in a blog post. It infuriates me to see professional, creative writers and bloggers cite Pinterest as a source. Shame on you. You should know better. Give credit where credit is due and blah blah blah. You’ve all heard it before. Don’t make me say it again.

And another thing, can we stop with the Pinterest Fail crap? Pinterest didn’t fail you, you failed. Just because you see something on Pinterest, doesn’t mean you can DIY it. Have you even read the blog quote2you tried to replicate an idea from? These people are professionals. They do these things for a living. And even if they don’t, they at least have some experience and know what they’re doing. They are designers and crafters and artists. They have been doing this for years. Unless you already have crafting experience, don’t think that DIY Christmas ornament is going to come out right on the first try. Unless you have experience decorating cakes, don’t think you can replicate that Frozen birthday cake the morning of your daughter’s birthday party. Unless you have experience constructing furniture, don’t think you can make that awesome coffee table with the pipe legs on your own.

So, in conclusion, knock it off. Pinterest doesn’t generate ideas. People do.



If you haven’t heard, Art Teachers Hate Glitter has been nominated as Wild Card Blog of the Year over at The Art of Education. If you get a moment, it sure would mean a lot to my ego if you could hop on over there and vote for ATHG. Voting continues until Friday, January 23rd. Thank you.
A Day In the Life, Gripes

Confessions of An Elementary Art Teacher

I haven’t made art for myself since college.

For one, I just don’t have the time. For two, I’m not blessed with a beautiful, spacious studio space. Or any studio space for that matter. Remember the studios in college? *Sigh* Now the only time I make art is when I’m making samples for my lessons. Pretty sure that paper lizard I made the other day isn’t going to end up in a gallery any time soon.

I spend a lot of my own money. A lot.

I don’t think a weekend goes by when I’m not at a store picking something up for my classroom. I don’t think a week goes by when I’m not scrounging through my personal supplies, or recycling bin, for materials to use in my classroom. Regular classroom teachers spend a good amount of their own money on their students and their classrooms. I guarantee art teachers spend a lot more. I spend so much of my own money that I have a separate category for it when I track my expenses every month. I don’t get reimbursed for it. That $250 educator’s tax credit I get to claim? Maybe that will cover a quarter of what I spend every year.

I don’t like teaching every medium.

Especially painting. And printmaking. And don’t even get me started on chalk pastels. It has nothing to do with the mess. Okay, maybe it has a little to do with the mess, but I could teach ceramics all day long. Or sculpture. I’ve never had much interest in painting, not that I can’t do it, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I actually enjoy printmaking, but not the stuff we do in elementary school. Give me acid baths and etching any day. If I could equip my students with glue guns, packaging tape and box cutters, we’d be building cardboard structures every day. But Styrofoam prints and dry brush techniques? Ugh, no thanks. Yeah, I still teach it, but I’d prefer not to.

Teaching art isn’t fun.

There. I said it, now can you please stop asking me that? It’s not fun. Most of the time it is not fun. Sometimes it is fun. Mostly it is not fun. What with all the grading and the push for assessments and the CLT meetings and the professional development and the classes with 30+ students and the IEPs and the 504s and the parent emails and the SOLs and the PLCs and the lack of planning time and the extra duties and the SMARTR goals and the shrinking budgets and the teacher evaluations and the staff meetings and the need to be visible and the preparation for art shows and art displays and the behavior plans and the PBIS rewards and the pressure to make art fun. What? You didn’t think art teachers had to deal with this shit too? We do.

Sometimes I daydream about teaching high school art.

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I taught high school art for about 1.25 years. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that. I don’t know if high school art teachers have to worry about SMARTR goals, or CLT meetings, or giving up their planning time to help out in the real classrooms during math, but I do know that at least I wouldn’t have to teach someone how to use scissors, or glue sticks or crayons anymore. I wouldn’t have to tie shoes or wipe noses or remind students to wash their hands after using the bathroom. I wouldn’t have to answer the question, “how much longer is art?” seventeen times in an hour. I’m not naive enough to think that all of my students in high school would actually want to be in art class, but at least there would be some who did right? At least there would be some who thought for themselves and didn’t actually copy my sample line for line, right? I don’t know. Are you a high school art teacher? Do you get to collaborate with students and actually have intelligent discussions with them? Do you get to watch students’ creativity develop and grow into unique points of view? Is it as glorious as we elementary art teachers imagine it to be? On second thought, don’t answer that.

I show up for the students.

The relationships I build with my students gets me out of bed every morning when that alarm goes off at 5:00 AM. I’m not in it for the fun of it. I’m not in it for the fame and fortune (because we all know that’s never going to happen). I don’t show up every day because I enjoy being micromanaged by the administration. I show up for the students who hug me on the way out of class. I show up for the students who tell me they love art class. I show up for the students who express excitement and pride when they’ve “drawn the best picture they’ve ever drawn!” And yeah, I show up for the students who can’t sit still in their seats, can’t refrain from blurting out, and who would rather be anywhere else but art class. I show up because sometimes teaching art is fun. I show up for the students. And that is the only reason I need.

A Day In the Life, Funny, Ha-Ha, Gripes

Said No Student Ever.

IMG_2199Ms. ATHG? I know you’re very busy, and I realize that I’m not the only student in this class, and I’m aware that we’re not your only class, but if you should get a free moment, I was hoping you could take my weaving off of my loom for me. Take your time, please. I know that you’re not here every day, and I realize that you have a lot to do, so whenever you’re able to get it back to me, I’m okay with that. No hurry. Thank you so much for all that you do and for all of the extra time you spend working on art stuff for us.

Said no student ever.