So.. first of all, for those of you who know me well, I am NOT a lazy person- I teach at two schools, facilitate the art department, write this blog and started AOE Classes.. the list goes on. I pride myself on overachieving. But lately I’ve had to pull in the reins on some of the PHYSICAl stuff that we all know is a part of teaching art. This post is all about making ADAPTIONS to your work day when you are feeling, well, lazy. (I hate that word). Maybe you are feeling a little under the weather, but not sick enough to stay home. You have low energy. You are 8 months pregnant (ahem…that’s me). I’ve had to make some accommodations this school year in order to survive.
Remember when we talked about dread and I shared my fear of standing? There was a reason. It turns out I have low blood pressure and because of this I can pass out and get dizzy with a moments notice from standing too long. (grocery store almost fainting episode, NOT FUN!) It gets even better when you throw into the mix a new year with a busy schedule and back to back classes, right! So I’ve had to make some health accommodations with my doctor’s note in tow.
Don’t have a bun in the oven? This list can work for anyone who just doesn’t have a lot of energy but needs to get through a busy art day. Sound lazy? Maybe. But these strategies do work without sacrificing quality teaching, which is the most important thing.
How to Teach Like a Lazy Person
1. Sit as Often as you can: Obtain a tall wheeled chair and a short one. Use the chair to zoom around the art room to help kids. Sit while you demonstrate and talk with students. Sit whenever you can.
2. Let the Students Come to You: “If you teach it, they will come”….Instead of having students raise their hands when they have a question, just set your self up at one of the work tables or a place in the front of the room. (not something that is off on the corner and probably not your desk) Let students know if they have a question they can come up to you. It’s important to position yourself so you can see what is going on in the art room at all times! I put my tables in an arrangement that would better help me do this.
3. Use Disposable Painting Supplies: Usually I wash out my plastic cups and paint palettes when I dispense paint at the end of each day. They are high quality and work great for students and save a tree, but sometimes it’s just easier and quicker to use something disposable. This year, I’ll be using paper plates, old catalogs (dispense paint on the top and rip off the sheet when you are done) and dixie art cups to hold paint and supplies. This way, the only washing you must do is the brushes, and I plan to help train the kids to do this.
4. Let the Kids Help! I have a great system for table helpers in place. This year I plan on utilizing the table helpers even more to do things I usually would have done myself. Kids are happy to help and they are learning character skills by being helpful to a teacher in need. When I started teaching, someone told me to never do a job yourself a kid can do for you. I really disagree with this because I like to be the one to empty and organize my drying rack and I like to wash out the brushes and make sure they are super clean deep within the bristles. This year, I may give some of that up. And it’s ok!
5. Do not Compromise on your Management Plan! Show the students you are getting lax following through with your classroom management plan will never help anything. Stick to your plan like glue, and even on your worst days, don’t just “let it go”.. Kids are smart. They see right through you. If you let it go once, you have just set a new standard for future classes and they’ll try even more the next time.
Looking back on all these changes I am making, I can see that perhaps I was doing TO MUCH for the kids before, and they can handle a lot more if I just give them a little freedom (while keeping structure) with some of our routines. Only time will tell- Until then….You’ll find me parked at the bench during recess duty…..
What other tricks do you have to work smarter, not harder, in the busy art room?