Essential Tips to Help Your Students Enter the Classroom Quietly

The first few weeks of school are a great time to start new structures and routines. Even if you feel like you got a bit lax with your routines last spring, the new year and new expectations you set can really give you a fresh start. Consistently keeping up with a new routine is another story, but for now, we will have high hopes :).

One routine that I find art teachers are on the fence about is whether students should enter the art room quietly or not. Does the way students enter our rooms set the stage for the rest of the art class period? Can it make or break your classroom management? Although this is up for debate, from my own personal experience, I have found that when students enter the classroom quietly, ready to learn, the rest of the class period goes much more smoothy. One of the worst feelings as an art teacher is having students walk quietly in the hallway with their teacher, and then, the second they cross the threshold of the art room, having them start running, screaming, touching art supplies, coming up to you with a story about the tooth they lost, etc. Yikes. I’ve been there. Where is the respect? Why do students feel there is such a difference in expectations between the hallway and the art room?


Expectations are something that we as teachers have complete control over. We can help set the stage for a positive start to class right from the moment the kids enter the room.

I suggest having students repeat entering the room until they can show you the routine correctly. Yes, I’ve hauled a class back out into the hallway 2 or 3 times to practice until they could show me. One group even came in at recess to practice. That was a fun time.

Better yet, here are some ideas for all age levels on how you could facilitate a quiet entry to the art room, without making it feel regimented and stuffy.


4 Essential Tips to Help Your Students Enter the Classroom Quietly 

1. Set up a ‘Bell Ringer’ activity that is projected on the overhead or whiteboard for students to start immediately when they enter. This is a great time to get in sketchbook activities as well.

2. Have assigned jobs posted for setting up art supplies. When students enter, they can immediately start set-up without waiting for your instructions.

3. Have a meeting place, like a carpet, as a central landing zone for students to come to when they enter the art room efficiently and quietly.

4. Start your instructions right away, even as soon as when the first few students enter. Everyone else who follows will be very quiet, not wanting to miss out on the instructions. This will set a serious tone to the beginning of art class and get everyone ready to work.

As with any new routine, practice and consistency will make all the difference in your results.

Do you allow students to enter the classroom quietly or not?

What are some tips you use to facilitate  students’ entry into the art room? 


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.


  • Lucy Zucaro

    I agree completely that the way students enter the art room sets the tone for the rest of the class. While I was a doing my observations during grad school, I would often seen kids run in, yelping, jumping over chairs to get to theirs, and the teacher said nothing. Then he was crabby for the rest of the class as he struggled for their attention. I was horrified. The kids acted like they were on the playground. I think if teachers allow a noisy rambunctious entrance, then they shouldn’t be surprised when art class is treated as not a real class, which is so often the case in schools.

    • Toby

      This sets a bad image as a “fun” time….play time, nothing serious! With art being viewed as not important when cuts come around this doesn’t help! This is what the kids will remember as adults when it’s up to them to vote on referendums and other important things to keep the arts in schools!

  • Tricia Fuglestad

    I had a group of kids make a Fugleflick about how to enter the art room. We call it Push up Your Sleeves”

  • Megan Darling

    I do have my students enter quietly and if they are loud we line up and try again. I think practicing what you want from your students is the key to success!

  • Toby

    My kids have to be quiet before they can enter. They know this is wasting their art time! K-2 I hold my hands together to remind them not to touch the materials set out on the tables until we know what we are going to being doing today . We have table competitions and a behavior chart with a school competition to earn an extra art time (60 mins.) of a project no one else in the school gets to do. I do this for each semester. The classes really work hard to earn an art award…to then be the class with the most art awards in the semester. For the class who wins the most correct behavior spots colored in… Each child receives a certificate , treat to eat in art, classroom certificate to proudly display (the classrooms really do compete and show off the certificates) and our special project. Should there be a tie…I do two award projects. I tell the kids if you have earned it- there is no tie breaker to take it away. You have earned it…you get it! I might add… Lineing up to leave is also quiet and ready for the teacher when they are picked up. This is greatly appreciated! As I recieve many in unison “Thank you’s” from the classes and their teachers.

  • Megan Farkas

    This is completely off topic. Are there any pictures of your room? From this sneak peak picture it looks so fabulous! I’d love to see more of the walls! Great article! I overheard a new student yesterday (first day of art) asking his fellow classmates what to expect from my class. He said that his old art class was just like recess. I’m glad the other students told him my class was not like recess and that we do a lot of “fun” projects!

  • MJ Kampschnieder

    I have been teaching for 25 years and strictly art K-12 for the last 5 years and I struggle with getting my art students to enter quietly and calmly. This year I vowed to take the time to teach what I expect! I love art and I know that my K-6 students look forward to their 30-45 min. weekly art class but it seems like I was frustrated most of the year because I “dived” into the doing art and neglected the procedures and expectations.– thinking “they know how to act” !! This year each class(team) will earn the letters A-R-T for their behavior in the art room. A- entering the art room appropriately, R- positive class-time behavior and T- lining up appropriately. As a class– if they earn all 3 letters they will earn a sticker on their class chart. — 5 stickers and they will get “art studio” time — basically freedom to use materials of their choice for a class period. Hopefully and can keep myself motivated to be consistent so I am not fighting the chaos all year loooooooooooog. :) “Creativity take courage”- Matisse
    MJ Kampschnieder – NE

    • MJ- I like the idea of using the A specifically for entering the classroom. I used ART but it was in general, and wasn’t tied to a specific action. Best of luck, I hope it works well for you!

  • Mrs.C

    I meet my classes at the art room door and they need to show me that they are ready to enter the art room. Sometimes I may give some quick directions at the door before they enter like, ” there are paints and other supplies on the table. I know they look interesting and you will get to use them soon enough. Should anyone be touching them before I give directions?” ( kids say no)( yes I get the funny guy who says yes- they get the teacher evil eye and I say”Those students not following directions will not be participating in todays activity.” They get the hint!) then I let the class in. This sets up what my expectations are before they come into the room. I have had a class practice going in and out several times before getting it right. I have even had classes who really were having a bad day sit directly on the floor outside the art room in line and have quiet time while they got themselves together.If the principal goes by and asks why they are there I have one of the students explain why the class is not in the art room.. One at a time I will let the students who were ready and setting the right example go into the art room to begin their work. This way those who are ready are not being penalized for those who are not. Seeing the others going in for their positive behavior is usually enough to turn the others around. Those who don’t get it together miss out on their art time. Yes, art class is fun but the students need to realize that they need to give the same respect to you and your room as they do their own classroom. It makes for a happy and productive art room! :)

  • Gordon

    This year I started a routine of having students come in and immediately get their sketchbooks and begin drawing a still life object at their table for the first 3-4 min of class every day. It’s working really well so far. Drawing is such a meditative activity anyway and it helps focus them. While they are quietly drawing, I let them know what to expect in class that day in a calm voice. Grades 6-8.

  • Anita

    I have a chart for all classes. They can get a sticker for a good entrance, good work time and good clean-up and exit! (3 is the best) This is my first year at elementary after nine years of high school. I dug this up from my student teaching experience. I report the number of stickers to the classroom teacher when they come to fetch their kiddies. So far so good!

  • Kiara

    When students enter my room, they sit down and “show me the Mona Lisa”. Their arms are crossed, mouths are closed, and eyes are on me. I refuse to start until they ALL do it. Peer pressure helps here!

    • I even put a quiet sign (or in your case a Mona) photo up at the front of the door or down by the carpet area as a visual reminder of how we enter the art room. It helps!

    • Julia Thomas

      Cute idea. I like it.

  • kathleen

    Oh ya’ll just reminded me to dig out my Mona Lisa for my art room door. Before I used a baseball analogy “Art Ready” so my poster reads “Mona is Art Ready. Are you? Sit like Mona Lisa.” I like the A_R_T idea since it’s more chances than my paint dots on the class palette. I pick a student to color a dot on a laminated outline of a palette if they are good for the whole class period.When they get all the primary and secondary colors they earn a Free day activity Earning the letter for each part of the class would help them see why Mrs. So & So’s gets more Free Days instead of whining that I like that class better. As a matter of fact, I do like classes that behave better :-)

  • asma

    i use different ways with my kg students.
    1.they walk n the hallway n 2 lines n i have a sign of a smily face. the best line will get the face n its leader will go back to class after the art session holding the sign up 2 show it 2 every1 on their way.
    2.counting down from 5 to 0 while they enter the art room.
    3. i choose helpers from the 1st 2 students who sit quietly n their places, getting ready by putting their thumb up.
    4. sitting on the carpet n asking them to repeat entering the calss f i feel that they r not following the directions – like what u do-

  • Grammies3

    Help Educators …..My granddaughter turned seven at the end of December. Shes driving her first grade teacher and us crazy because she just cant be quiet during classtime. Her father hasn’t been in the picture for some time and her mommy remarried in oct. This behavior has just in the past few weeks accelerated. She know she needs to be quiet, but can’t seem to help herself. Her father does have ADD. She can sit still and quiet, and doesn’t seem to exhibit any of the symptoms, though I know it can be hereditary. Any ideas or sugestions?

  • Rita

    I have my elementary students enter the art room quietly. If not, they repeat the process until they show they can do it. I highly recommend the book Classroom Management for Art, Music and PE Teachers by Michael Linsin. It has helped me to become a more consistent teacher. The website also has a very helpful newsletter that I subscribe to as well.

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