Are You an Art Teacher Addict?

Are you an Art Teacher Addict? Are you addicted to your job?
Do you determine your value as an art teacher by how late you prepare in your art room?
Is your art room more organized then your own house?
When you go to work each morning do you feel like you never left?
Do you spend more time with the custodians then your own spouse?

Hi, my name is Art Project Girl and I am a former art teacher addict.
“Hi Art Project Girl”



So, how do I get everything done now, and done well in 8 hours instead of 12?

1. Perspective
2. Organization
3. Expectations
4. Management

My art program used to be a novel, but now it’s a P.O.E.M. To the point and focused.


Having a baby gave me the one thing I lacked before in my job, PERSPECTIVE!
Will the art department fall apart if there is a brush soaking over night? NO.
If there is a crooked bulletin board display? ABSOLUTELY
Last year, I might have a variety of students do bulletin boards (which I would have to stay late and fix myself). This year I have two students who I “hired” to do the job. They LOVE making bulletin boards and are very skilled. I taught them once, they take pride and we’ve never had so many bulletin board displays. They work on it before dismissal every day and love the exclusivity of the job.


I realized that I had a lot of labels and nothing was going back in the right place! So I added picture icons. Still things were getting put away sloppy. Finally I took pictures of how I wanted the cabinets to look displayed them right in front of the supplies. At the end of the day helpers check to make sure the cabinet matches the pictures.


*If you can only do one thing do this*


My expectations for the end of the day helpers is much higher then it used to be. We have a job chart and I don’t allow it to become a social time. Because of this a few have “quit” but the rest take it as seriously as job. I feel good because they are gaining job skills and they feel good because they are REALLY accomplishing things in the last fifteen minutes of the day.
I also am having higher expectations for my classes. If the student can’t do every part of the lesson by themselves then is it really appropriate? I have cut back a lot of prep time asking myself this question. The students have benefited, getting more developmentally appropriate lessons that are real learning opportunities. They know I expect independent work that they can be proud of!


Behavior management goes hand in hand with supply management in the classroom. One thing I did a lot more of this year during my “recovery” was TEACH supply management. This really helped with behaviors. I taught the students how to get a smock put it on and put it back. We practiced, rehearsed, and then we didn’t paint! Yes, they had to practice the first class so they could earn their paint. We also practiced getting supplies and walking to our seats. I think they could use a review at this point in the year but it really made all the difference in supply and behavior management.

Now you can find me in my car by 4:00 most days and on my way to pick up my own little bit of happiness, MY baby! And a the funny thing is people are commenting on how much cleaner my room is this year and how wonderful the displays look! It is not the amount of time but quality of time you spend in your art room.


Are there any other recovering Art Teacher Addicts out there? What are some of your tricks to staying on the wagon?

 [author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Erica teaches Elementary art in an urban school, is passionate about photography, and is one of the newest members of the AOE Team. Learn more about all of our writers, including Erica, on the About page. [/author_info] [/author]


Erica Stinziani

This article was written by former AOE writer and insightful elementary art teacher Erica Stinziani.


  • Perron ART

    I am also a Art Teacher Addict and mom of 2 very active girls, 9 and 7. I travel between 2 buildings and teach grades k-5. ORGANIZATION is the answer. I have labeled Sterilite fliptop bins for all my supplies. My classes have 4 table so I have 4 bins for every supply. I put the bins out on a central supply table each morning and the kids put them away at the end of the day. I also teach the k-2 students explicit steps on pencil sharpening, snapping marker caps, brush washing, and writing name and class code on  all art work. The 3-5 students know the drill and it makes the class run smoother.
    I arrive to work an hour early and leave when the last bus leaves!

    • Svnasiegs2

      Yeah! I am not the only art teacher addict! An iPad is wonderful and an addiction for all of the cool art blogs and for this site! Unfortunately I can’t have a blog with the new changes in WI and my districts new “power” and with also minimal prep time! I am dreading organizing yet another art room in the district for next year as I will be at a different school in the PM’s. But have gotten lots,of new ideas here. I get to school early too but leave right at 4 with 2 teenagers at home in 3 sports each. I envy those classroom teachers that have “downtime,” but I love what I do (although exhausted… 7 classes a day)!

      • Kathleen O’Malley

        Oh oh, I hadn’t heard that WI does not allow art teachers to blog. I teach in Green Bay and have a blog thanks to Jessica and her blog class here on AOE. :) Do you think it’s just your district? Yikes!

  • Cboggs73

    I see myself in this me! I teach in a school with over 750 students n grades 1-8. Thank heaven I don’t have to teach the kindergarten students, too! Some days I arrive an hour before the students and don’t leave until after 5:00. I definitely need an intervention! We only have two more weeks of school, so things are unlikely to change right now, but I going to try some of the suggestions in this post. Thank you so much!

  • HipWaldorf

    You are a riot!  I was delighted to see your happy blog self adding spirited life to this wonderfully practical, supportive blog!  You and Phyl infuse a sense of humor into online art education and it is quite apparent you enjoy every minute!  I am looking forward to reading your tips here and on Art Project Girl.

    • Phyllis Brown

       Holy smokes!  Thanks for including me in your comments!  Having a sense of humor is essential, don’t you, think?

  • Hip Waldorf, we should hang out more or at all! Sometimes it takes an artist to “get” another artist.

    Cboggs: It takes time and I didn’t mention years of creating a filing system of go to lessons for everyday emergencies! I remember many days looking longly at all those teachers walking to their cars at 3:45. They must of thought I was some sort of crazy with my face pressed up against the window saying “take me with you.” Hang in there. It comes with time.

    On another note, I am always concerned when I hear that teachers are not allowed to have a blog. This must infringe on some sort of freedom of speech laws? It seems a little unethical to me. As long as the blog doesn’t reveal names or faces or anything specific and is professional, it seems like an extended learning community (for art teachers who don’t have one!) 

  • Shannah

    I too was forced to reform my art addiction ways because of my little guy! I started leaving school before 4:00 instead of staying until 6:00 and it has been the single biggest improvement in my quality of life. And I find that I am more refreshed for teaching the next day!
    Totally stealing your bulletin helper idea. Thank you!

    • Before I started thinking about having a family, I prepped myself for leaving right on time. It was a good habit to get into. I find it like a game. How much can I get done in the time I am actually paid to be there?

    •  I reformed my addiction too … when my triplets were born. I’m happy to say that 14 years on I’ve never looked back. I have spent so many wonderful hours with my boys and lots of amazing hours in the classroom. I totally agree that organisation is the key on both fronts … home and work.

  • tobie711

    Hi my name is Tobie and I to am an Art teacher Addict. I have gotten much better with leaving on time. My problem is I have become a bag lady! I work at 2 sister school so I have 2 art rooms yet I still have so much stuff at home and I roll a backpack and a bag back and forth to school! 

    • Glad to hear there are others “pack muling.” This is something that will be hard to give up. We need our “stuff!” 

      • Yvonne

        Ladies! Don’t do it. Buy two of everything you really need and leave it. If your budget won’t let you check out Artsonia. They will let you setup an online gallery of your students work. The real plus is that parents can purchase the work printed on cups, mouse pads, etc. A portion of the proceeds goes to a credit for your art supplies with Blick. A little promotion and you will cleanup right before holidays.

  • Phyllis Brown

    Hi my name is Phyl and I am an Art Teacher Addict and will be going cold turkey in just a few short weeks when I retire.  It’s scary – is there some sort of art teacher methadone type thing? 

    I used to manage my time better, but as an “empty-nester” I never rush to get home. I’m going to miss the big tables and workspace.  Need to find a studio – my house has no good available space.

    Congrats on figuring out how to get home earlier!!

    • A studio! This is a new development. I think you should look on craigslist. . . just a thought. This is excited. Besides Lucy, the dragon, needs a place to call home. You are going to be busy so I don’t think you will have time to look back.

  • Maryldepalma

    I totally agree with your comment about minimizing prep time by creating assignments that students can complete all parts of independently. I always ask myself this question when I am doing some aspect of prep “could the students do this themselves?” if so I leave that preparation up to them. If I am investing more time and energy into the prep than the students will put into the final product, it is not appropriate.

    • Yes! You are onto something here! I have wanted to creat stations and have simple tutorials at each step of the project to differentiate for some time. Students are more capable then we give them credit for. We must set them up for success and in the end it will streamline things for us, too.

  • I think the area I most needed to adjust was expectations. I never stayed too late at school but before my son was born, I would spend almost my whole evening at home working on lesson plans, publishing artwork on Artsonia, or posting on my blog. Since I became a working mom, I decided not to work on school stuff at home, at least while my son is awake. I just try to use my time more efficiently to get lesson plans and prep done at school, and accept that Artsonia and the blog are extras for when I have time. I started using the Artsonia editor so I can upload photos from home then edit while I eat lunch or have a spare couple of minutes. Things are getting posted as quickly, but it’s something I choose to do for my families, not something I HAVE to do.

  • Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Pat! You are so supportive, you must be a wonderful teacher! Thanks sharpie woman;)

  • Good article!

  • Kellyg

    I struggled for several years with clean up time and traffic jams in my room.  Last year I finally posted “One Way” street signs along the path the kids are to take when putting away wet work and washing hands.  I have one sink in the room so we always have kids trying to clean brushes and hands.  Now I have a dish pan filled with water that the brushes and plates to into (away from the sink) and the sink is strictly used for rinsing hands (5 seconds or less – we are not scrubbing for surgery here!).   Love your blog – thanks for taking time to bring this to us!

    • Street signs for the art room are a neat idea! Thanks for the tip!

    • Islandgirlart

      I love your “not scrubbing for surgery here” statement. We do 10, 9, 8…. countdown but some kids stay forever!

  • Kellyg

    And, yes I am an “Art Teacher Addict”!  I have become much better about my time spent after school.  I now stay late 1 or 2 nights a month to change boards, organize work, or do a big clean of the room.  Otherwise, I have thankfully managed to have the kids do most of the work required to shut the room down each night so I can spend time with my family.  Hoping to implement several of your organizational ideas to help things run even more smoothly!

  • 1jjrosen

    Im confused by your expectations paragraph. If you increase your expectations for your students, what do you mean by “If the student can’t do every part of the lesson by themselves then is it really appropriate? I have cut back a lot of prep time asking myself this question. The students have benefited, getting more developmentally appropriate lessons that are real learning opportunities. ”  Are you saying to make the lesson easier if they can’t do it themselves? Wouldn’t that be decreasing expectations? Please expalin – I’d like to teach this concept to some student teachers. 

  • Yvonne

    Yep, I spent the first couple of years staying late worrying that everything needed to be perfect. This was especially difficult because I’m at a charter school with an extended day. I’m contracted for 9 hours a day and see 7 classes and 170 students everyday. I know this sounds nuts, but it was the job I could find in a horrible market. To put the cherry on top there was a lot of pressure to run after school programs. I started by saying no to the after school programs and recruited some PTO moms as helpers. I also have a format that I use for unit planning and I stick to it. Week one: Introduction to an artist, historical period, or a movement. Its usually an artist. There will be time at the end of the PP for students to begin sketching their plan, put their last project in the portfolio and review their grade. (Time Saving Trick: Every grade gets the same artists with modifications in the lesson.) Week two: Technique review and transferring the sketch to the finished product paper. Week three: Continuing work with support as needed. Week four: Finishing and prepping for display. Occasionally, I will need a week Five. Now at the end of the day I collect My things as the last class lines up. I have a bus duty and then I leave.

  • The recession could be improving, but a lots of individuals are still suffering with bad
    credit and a lot of of such individuals are looking for any auto loan Fay Marlowe the a bad credit score record is free being viewed from the different banking institutions
    and will also hinder you from getting loan from their website.