Recently I was exploring a popular online forum for art teachers, and someone asked in a thread about ideas for classroom management in the art room. As I sat and read the replies, I became frustrated and overwhelmed. This person wanted a simple solution, and the answers seemed so complex.
People replied with confusing ticket systems, sticker charts, earning things like prizes and free art time and candy. Ugh. I realize in the classroom setting, these systems work great, but when you see students once a week you just DON’T have time to keep track of all of this!!! If you do this and it works great, more props to you, but it hasn’t worked for me.
My first year of teaching, I started a sticker chart. If the class did a nice job, they got a sticker. It fizzled after a few weeks. A couple of kids asked about it, but mostly it just dropped off from there. I knew with the busy rush of days, teaching at two schools, and having no time between classes, even the best of intentions couldn’t keep this type of plan consistent.
I thought back to what my mentor had told me.
Boy, she was right.
I do tons of positive verbal and visual feedback, small cheers, little quick games, but I will not sacrifice the health of students (candy) or their art time (fun/free day to watch a movie) or the last 5-10 minutes of art (which could be used instead for a quick assessment or review game) for a reward. Making art, learning about art, and talking about art is what I am paid to do and I am given VERY LITTLE time to accomplish this. The subject matter alone is motivating and fun if you let it be.
Remember- we are not grade-level classroom teachers. We require a different set of rules, those of which we sometimes must make up as we go (with a little help from our friends).
How will you start your classroom management off on the right foot this year?