Flip Your Rules and Procedures to Save Your Sanity

My elementary students come to school eager to learn and be in art class. Behavior problems are rare, but boundary pushing seems commonplace after they settle into the school year. How loud can we be? Can we watercolor our arms? Is she serious about the “no helicopter rulers” mandate? Usually, by mid-October, I need a quick rules and procedures refresher to tighten things up before the holidays approach.

But, if I’m being candid, sometimes the hardest part of teaching elementary art is repetition. After coming off the “back to school blitz” of rules and procedures conversations with twenty-five classes, I’m feeling less like Miss Frizzle and more like Miss Lippy.

So, instead of re-explaining how the sketchbook system works for the thirtieth time this fall, I am flipping my classroom management.

Lindsey filming a video

If you aren’t already familiar with the idea of a flipped classroom, it’s a teaching model that uses videotaped instruction to allow students to move at their own pace through the curriculum. There are many ways to use flipping in the classroom, and all of them help students become more accountable and help teachers stay sane.

To be totally honest, I am a flipping novice. If I can do this, you can, too. I took the amazing AOE Flipping the Art Room course from Joanna Russell (the Flipped Art Guru) over the summer and learned so much. One of the biggest takeaways was that I could start small. I decided to create 90-second video nuggets of art room wisdom to help streamline my day and help my students actually understand and remember our classroom expectations.

So how do you do it? Here are a few simple steps to get you started.

1. Identify your behavioral/procedural pet peeves.

Take a few minutes to reflect on what is working and what isn’t in your classroom. Then, make a list of your top three daily challenges, and consider which of these could translate into a quick video. Once you’ve identified a topic, think about what you want to say and how you might say it. In my brief flipping experience, I’ve noticed that kids seem to respond to humor or “insider information,” like WHY something is a rule.

2. Find a platform to host/house the videos.

Before you begin, have the end in mind. Where will you store this video, once you create it? For me, the answer was a private YouTube channel because I don’t want to share these with the world, just with my students. Not all districts are “YouTube friendly” so you might need to explore using a Google drive or just saving the clips to your desktop computer. Either way, I found that my district’s technology staff seemed very willing to help with the logistics. After all, this is a lot more interesting to talk about than broken printers. Don’t hesitate to solicit outside help.

tech used for flipping

3. Do what’s easy.

As an art teacher, I care a lot about craftsmanship. I want the things I make to show care and attention to detail. But, this isn’t the time! If you scrutinize your clips, you will end up in a perpetual cycle of video editing and may never finish. The point is to save time, so do this quickly. Use your phone or an iPad, anything that will allow you to save and store the file. Embrace the idea that your video clip will be rough, and that’s okay. So much of the media that our students consume is highly-polished and slickly-produced. A bumpy video with a few errors can seem authentic to them and make your message stand out. Finally, make your video short and sweet. The kids KNOW your procedures, they just need a reminder.

Here’s a quick video I made for my students about using oil pastels if you’d like to see!

4. Show it to your students…as often as it takes.

student watching a video

Another positive aspect of making short “public service announcement” clips is that the length lends itself to repetition without sacrificing instructional time. If a particular class is having trouble with a procedure, I can show the video at the start of each period until they get it down. “If I have to watch Moss explain the pencil sharpener one more time…”  You’re gonna what? Use the pencil sharpener correctly? Sounds good to me!

5. Enjoy your new found moments of sanity.

So, while the “virtual me” is entertaining my kids for 90 seconds with a reminder about oil pastels, I now have a few precious moments of free time in my art room. This is an ideal time to distribute paint, pass back projects, or set up for a demonstration. Or, you could use those 90 seconds to read about the AOE Flipping the Art Room online course, because it was hugely helpful for me, and I highly recommend it.

What areas of your classroom management would you “flip”?  

What other strategies do you use to save your sanity when students need classroom management reminders?

Lindsey Moss

Lindsey Moss is an elementary art teacher in Yorkville, Illinois. She enjoys art history and finding creative and artistic solutions to educational challenges.

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  • Lee Ten Hoeve

    I love this idea Lindsey. I get so tired of listening to myself repeat procedural stuff with my elementary students. I am making some short videos this week. Thanks!