The Problem With Teaching Today: Told Through Two Anecdotes

The following stories are

non-fictional and depict

actual persons and events.

I was observing a teacher’s classroom; she had been having problems with a student who was a behavior challenge. The student was being disruptive and unruly, not at all ready to learn. I walked over to him, and I calmly asked him, “What do you need?” He yelled at me, “I need my crackers!” I turned to the teacher and asked her why she wouldn’t let him have his crackers. She replied, “because it isn’t snack time.” Can you imagine? Here is a student telling you he’s hungry, and you won’t give him what he needs because it isn’t snack time? I asked the teacher, “Which would you rather have, an unruly student who is being disruptive, or a student who is ready to learn? Let him have his crackers.”

As told by a behavioral specialist

I was talking to my colleague, who happened to help me develop our curriculum, and her kids happen to go to your school, and she was telling me that her children hate your class. They were talking about it over dinner one night, and she said they told her that they hate your class because it’s boring and they never do anything fun. This concerns me. You should be making it fun for the students, you should be doing projects with your students. This is unacceptable. What are you going to do to change this?

An overheard conversation between a supervisor and a foreign language teacher

The first story was presented during a professional development session. Based on the faces of the other teachers at my table, they were all thinking the same thing I was. Here is a student who has just been handed control of this poor teacher’s classroom. If a behavioral “specialist” is telling us that we need to give students everything they “need,” whenever they demand it, then we are all screwed.

The second conversation I was privy to because I share a classroom with the foreign language teacher. Here was a teacher who was being reprimanded, scolded, by a supervisor for something that wasn’t even true, based on one conversation that occurred at the dinner table. Because one family of students reported that a class was boring and not fun, two teachers were subjected to the criticism of their supervisor. Like the foreign language teacher remarked, they were assumed guilty and must now prove their innocence. Going forward, they must provide their supervisor with photographic and video proof that they are following the curriculum and engaging students through projects. Things they were already doing, but now they have to prove it because of the remarks of a couple of students at the dinner table.

During our PD session, after hearing the cracker story, another colleague remarked, “We’re no longer teachers. The students have all the power.”

A Day In the Life

The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief

Staff meetings. So much fun. So productive. So relevant. So not true.

Back to school time is upon us. The emails are already blowing up my inbox. I’m heading into a week of meetings, professional development and various training sessions. Maybe, like me, you approach these days with refreshed optimism. Oh, how quickly it fades.The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief www.athglitter.comBe strong, friends. Soon enough the students will be coming through those doors and all that training information, all those “important” handouts, will be forgotten in the bottom of our teacher bags, buried under SMARTR goals, assessments and learning objectives.

A Personal Note: It appears I am “back”. Time will tell if it sticks. These past two years (and of course, by “years,” I’m speaking in terms of school years) have really put me through the ringer, to say the least. If art teachers really do have expiration dates, I may be nearing mine soon, but until then, I’m still here. I’m back, and it’s good to see you again, friends.

I’ll be returning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest soon, so don’t forget to follow me.

Don’t Save

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

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“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!

Be sure to follow Art Teachers Hate Glitter on Facebook.

Small Scraps

Small Scraps ::facepalm::

Alternate Title: 6th Graders, the New 1st Graders.

I was watching this 6th gradelansburygiphy student in class the other day. He was struggling to wet his paper towel with a spray bottle. I watched in amazement as he squeezed the trigger over and over, with nothing to show for it. After each attempt, he glanced at the bottle, excuse me, he glanced at the empty bottle, and then tried spraying again, clearly confused as to why it wasn’t working. He finally got frustrated, set the spray bottle down and walked away with his dry paper towel. Guys. He was standing next to the sink. The functioning sink.

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A Day In the Life

Back to School. aka The One with All the Memes.


I know some of you have already returned to school. With students and everything. I’ve seen your nicely organized, pretty classrooms on Instagram. Hooray for you, but today marks the first day of the new school year for me. Sort of. Students don’t start until next week, but for teachers, the fun starts today, and you know what that means…

64ebbd852e073c1f835325250a6f1c79Ohhhh yeah… the pointless meetings. My school likes to start off right away, 8:15AM, Monday morning, with a breakfast meeting. Providing breakfast means it’s going to be fun, and chill, and relaxed, right? Or not. Continue reading