Top 10 Challenges of Managing an Art Room

Managing the art room is one of the things teachers struggle with the most and talk about the least. It can be embarrassing for a teacher to admit they wish they could manage things differently, but it doesn’t have to be.  If teachers don’t admit management shortcomings and become willing to dissect and investigate management issues, they’ll never build a classroom environment they can be proud of.  Art teachers especially need to talk about this, because we face different management issues then a traditional classroom teacher.

Do you have a classroom that ANYONE can walk into at ANY TIME and notice a fabulous learning environment for kids to make and learn about art? I am not sure who can answer that question with a YES. Everyone has management issues they would like to improve upon.

Because I believe so passionately about professional development for art teachers, and because I have noticed that management a topic  y’all just can’t get enough of, I’m setting out on a quest to identify your biggest management challenges and sharing my own, all in hopes of working together through our community to research and resolve some of those issues, as well as get some fabulous best practice tips from other readers who may struggle with and find solutions to all of your daily struggles.

Top 10 Challenges of Managing an Art Room

1. Shhhh! The voice levels are too loud. Kids won’t stop talking. Kids won’t stop talking loud. Make it stop! My head hurts and students need to focus.

2. Clean Up- Clean up can be unruly, loud and it can be so difficult to make sure every art supply gets put away perfectly before the next class comes barging in (and usually they are waiting outside your door)

3. Settle Down- There is an element of crowd control when kids enter the art room. They are excited to be there, but it takes too much time to get kids settled down and ready to learn.  They want to share everything with you. You just want to share the art lesson with them.

4. Unmotivated- What do you do with the kid who lacks motivation and just won’t put any effort into their art? Some teachers have told me many stories about this issue, and there is not a one size fits all answer. How can we make every lesson so exciting, so invigorating that all of the students just CAN”T HELP but hang on your every word?

5. Class Sizes– Are growing larger as our budgets grow smaller. How do you help 30 students in one class succeed to their maximum potential when 10 hands are in the air at any given moment?

6. Line Up- In the rush and craze of clean up, how do we ensure our students get in the line quietly and are ready to enter the hall? How can we be there to manage it effectively?

7. Blurting- Don’t interrupt the teacher. If you want to talk you can raise your hand. This is one thing I say every day. I try not to EVER call on a kid who blurts. But we all do. When is it ok and when is it over the line?

8. Look at the Teacher. NOW! – I want to give you the next step to the project but you really don’t want to stop working on your art. What signals can a teacher give to get the eyes and ears of their students quickly and effectively? What type of movement and transitions might help with this? How can we tap into other types of communication?

9. Sticky Fingers – Don’t touch that. Keep your hands off your neighbor. How can we channel this energy into the artwork and not on everything else?

10.  But the paper isn’t cut! How can teachers organize and manage things BEFORE the kids enter, to ensure a smooth class period? (admit it, we’ve all scrambled as a class is walking in to our rooms to slice that last piece of construction paper before we start).

Those are my Top 10 Challenges I’ve heard from teachers around the country and have experienced myself.

What are your challenges to managing the art room?

Can’t get enough classroom management talk, and need some answers for some of the challenges listed above? I may just have them for you. Check out all of my management posts right here! Check out all of my organizational posts right here! Enjoy!

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • I love this post! I am printing it out for my student teacher. Perfect thing for a new teacher to think about. Thanks for sharing!

  • Heather C

    One quick thing that popped into my head that I use and LOVE…is a Clean Up Map. I have a visual “map” with islands that tell them each step until they reach the X on the last island. (the X, last step is quiet and ready at my table) I have created several for different materials, I pull up the map on my smartboard, a quick review and then leave it posted during their clean up time. It helps tremendously, I don’t get 6 kids asking where do I put this…I just point to the map! They are completely independent and responsible for their materials.

    • staci

      cute idea! :)

      • My colleague made an amazing map. I will have to “crash” her room and show it to you. It’s a poster, but the smartboard version sounds even better!

  • Anna

    I was nodding my head to all 10 of your challenges- right on!!!

  • Recently found your posts and love this site! I’m not yet an art teacher, but this helps me so much to prepare for students! Thank you for sharing what’s going on in your classroom!

  • Bhaagen

    In response to #8  I use “orange, purple, green eyes on me”  and they respond “red, yellow. blue eyes on you”.  The little ones even point to me.  Of course it is not as effective with the upper grades.  

    I love the map idea poster (no smart board).  

  • Amanda

    My biggest problem with clean up is that I cannot get my kids to stop doing their art.  I’m glad they are enjoying themselves, but all good things must come to an end.  What can I do?  It makes clean up time go badly when this happens.

  • Fieldarts2

    Sorry if this message isn’t in the right place but I have had a hard time figuring out how to comment on your blogs. The one I want to comment on and need help with, is doing the centers for kinders. I found a portable classroom that was unused and received permission from the Principal to hold my K – 1 classes there. I have three centers and it is working pretty well, but because it is a portable, aka “trailer” the accoustics are terrible and the noise level drives me nuts. I am scrounging the school for any carpet scraps I can use to deaden the sound but I may have to break down and buy more. I do have some little procedural questions that I would like to be able to ask you if I knew an email address I could contact you at. I have subscribed to your feeds so you should have mine.
    I really appreciate your ideas and your willingness to share them with the rest of us.
    Marcia Field