Showing posts with label everyday art room. Show all posts
Showing posts with label everyday art room. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2017

Everyday Art Room: Episode 10, Social Media!

Well, hello there, friends! This week in Everyday Art Room, I'm sharing my FAVORITE tips to promoting your art program (and art education in general!) via social media. I'll also be talking to you about why I think it's important to share and what I've learned along the way. Despite having blogged for what feels like FOREVER, I've not always used social media. I steered clear from some outlets like Instagram and creating a Facebook page for a long time simply because I didn't "get" how to best use them and why. Well, now I'm a huge fan and the benefits of sharing your program and your students work using these vehicles is so stinkin' amazing. So, take a listen to the podcast here or read the transcript below.

But before you do that, allow me to announce the winner of the $150 Giveaway from Treetopia: Darla Kendrick! Congrats to Darla! And, those of you who did not win, remember they are offering a 15% off discount. Just use the coupon code: TTHWDIYQ17C. This offer is only good through the October 27th. 

Way back in 1998, I start my very first adventures in art teacherin’. I had a classroom in a portable, which was just to the left-hand side of the school, and it honestly could’ve been like 20 miles away. I literally never saw anyone. The teachers would stand at the door of the school and just wave the students on to my portable. I felt like a lonely island. My only resource for art teacherin’ was a stack of vintage school arts magazines that were in the back of my portable, which I devoured. It was all that I had. When it came to sharing the amazing things that my students were creating, all I could do was hang them on the walls of my portable or in the halls at school. That was the only way to really get my students’ artwork out there, at least in my mind.
Flash forward to today. Holy moly. If my students are creating something that they’re proud of and that makes me smile, all I have to do is snap a photo and thousands of people can instantly see what’s happening in my art room. I’m talking about social media. It’s such an amazing tool to promote the arts, to share what you are doing with your students in your art room, and today, I’m going to share with you my top six ways to use social media to promote your program. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Disclaimer: Before you snap a single photo of student artwork or of a student working, please for the love, make sure you have permission. I don’t want anybody getting themselves in a pickle because they didn’t have permission from the parents to share students’ artwork. I know at my school, we send out permission forms, social media permission forms at the beginning of every school year that parents have to sign off on, so just make sure you’re in the clear before you start sharing. Disclaimer over and out.
Before I chat with you about my top six ways to use social media to promote the arts, let’s talk about why. Why advocate? I know what you’re thinking. “Stephens, that is a ridiculous question.” It’s my job to advocate the arts. I know. I understand, but I think if you really spend some time thinking about why you want to advocate your program and what social media platform or platforms will work best for you, it’ll help you really get much more out of that experience. While you chew on that, I’m going to share with you why I advocate.
I advocate first and foremost to stay on my toes and to stay connected. I love being able to see what other artists and other art teachers are doing in their studios and in their art rooms. Sometimes, it can be a bit overwhelming and in which case, I take a social media break, but for the most part, I find it so stinking inspiring. I also do it to promote the value of art education so that all the followers that I have, not that I have that many, but so that they can see exactly why what I do is valuable to my students and the community. I also do it to meet like-minded art teacherin’ types. Honestly, social media has allowed me to meet some of my dearest friends. That’s why I advocate.
Let’s now dive in to my top six ways to use social media.
Number one. You need to figure out which platform is best for you. There are so many social media platforms out there, and let’s face it, you can’t do them all, not without making it your full-time job. You need to think about which ones you enjoy using, you enjoy scrolling through because those are probably going to be the ones that you’re going to want to share on. Let’s go through them real quick and break each one down because I think that what you’re going to find is that time and preference is going to be your determining factor in which platforms you use.
I’m going to share with you my favorite: Instagram. I find that Instagram is my favorite because it’s a visual, and that’s just perfect for me as an art teacher. I’m going to dig really deep today about Instagram because I feel like it is probably the most popular with art teachers right now, so we will definitely circle back to Instagram here shortly. I also really love Instagram because of Instagram Stories where you can share what you are right that very moment doing in your art room with your students. I also love Instagram Live because it allows me to not just share what’s happening like Stories does, but it allows me to chat and engage with other artists and art teachers.
My next one I really enjoy is Facebook. I think a lot of people have either Facebook classroom pages or Facebook art reacher pages. Before you decide what kind of page you want to create, decide who do you want your audience to be. I have a Facebook Page that’s for the readers of my blog, which are usually art teachers. I love having that platform because I can reach those people directly, but my favorite thing to do is do Facebook Live, where I can, once again, like on Instagram Live engage directly with other art teachers in realtime. Just a little self-promo, I do Facebook Live every Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. You should join. It’s a ton of fun.
Now, let’s talk about two social media platforms that I don’t use because they’re not my favorite. I don’t use Twitter very much. It’s not a visual for me, so for that reason, I don’t love it. I can totally appreciate the value of Twitter. It’s great for chatting with other art teachers and engaging in Twitter chats, but that’s just not my favorite way to spend my time, so I don’t spend my time on Twitter.
Another one I don’t really spend a lot of time on is Snapchat. I haven’t quite figured out how to make that useful in my art teacherin’ world, so I’ve kind of steered clear of that platform; however, Twitter users and Snapchat friends, if you want to share what works well for you in your art room via those two platforms, please comment in the comment section of this podcast below. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks.
Now, two platforms that do require a good amount of time, blogging and YouTube. Blogging is a big suck of time. I’m not even going to lie. You have to really enjoy writing, taking photos, putting all that together, and popping it up on a platform like Blogger that maybe people will or will not see. That’s the only thing. With Instagram and Facebook and these other platforms, there’s already an audience sitting there, waiting, but if you create a website, there is no instant audience. You have to build that audience yourself, which takes a lot of time. Blogging, while I feel very passionate about it, it does require a lot of patience.
YouTube is great, but it does take a lot of time as well to create and edit videos that you want to share.
Those are the social media platforms, and like I sad, you do you. The social media platform that you feel most comfortable using is probably the best one for you.
Let’s talk about tip number two. You need to know what you want out of your social media experience. Me, personally, I want to feel inspired, excited, influenced, and connected, and that’s also the same feeling that I want to give to people when they are looking at my social media platforms. I think it’s very important to know what you want out of that experience and what you want to give back. Once you have that figured out, then you can move on to tip number three.
Let’s face it, you want people to find you via social media, and you want people to understand what exactly it is you are about, and so my tip number three is, create your own social media brand. Think of, let’s say Instagram, think of creating a signature look. That way, if people are scrolling through their Instagram feed, and your photo pops up, they immediately know, “Oh, that’s that one Instagrammer that I follow. I can tell because of that very specific look that he or she has created.”
How do you create a signature look so that you have kind of a brand that people understand and like to follow? Well, think of this way. Come up with a color scheme, come up with content that kind of makes sense together. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, pull out your phone, open up your social media of choice. I’m chatting about Instagram, so if you have that Instagram account, look at it. Now, just look at your photos. If your photos, a group of, let’s say six of them, were on a business card right now, those top six photos, would people immediately be able to look at those photos and understand what your, quote, “brand” or signature look is about?
Now, if they were looking at mine, they wouldn’t have a clue because currently, it’s chuck full of Halloween pictures and photos of my cat and some random pictures of my art room, so please don’t do as I do, but you should really do what I’m telling you to do because when you have pictures that look like they belong together, the color scheme is similar and the content makes sense together, people will understand what you are about, and they’ll be better able to follow you for that reason. They’ll get you. That’s my tip number three.
Tip number four. You need to know how each platform works and how to make that social media platform work for you. Here what I would recommend. Find your preferred social media platform, I’m still thinking Instagram, and then think about your favorite ones to follow. Pay attention to your favorite blogs, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Twitter people to follow because after you’ve paid attention to them, you’ll start to figure out what it is about them that you like, and take note of what it is that you like, not so that you can copy them but what you’re probably going to notice is that they are consistent, and they have a specific voice, and kind of like that brand I was chatting with you about.
Once you have your list of favorites and you’re determining what it is that makes them your favorites, start to take note of what gets a response on your preferred social media platform. For example, I’ll share with you what gets a response mostly on mine. If I’m thinking Instagram, what really strikes a chord with people is when I share photos of my art room. That often gets a lot of likes and a lot of comments. What doesn’t often are photos of my cat, and that’s perfectly fine. I will make sure never to tell Asha that she is not loved as much as my duct tape art in my room, but if you pay attention to what gets a response, that’ll better help you know what your audience is looking for, not that you have to pander to that, but if you are curious, it will help you know.
It’ll also help you make sure to declutter your social media account, meaning every now and then, those images that didn’t get very many likes or much of a response from your viewers, get rid of them. Declutter. Pull the weeds that is your social media account. That’ll make it so that you’re staying on, quote, “brand”.
It also helps to understand the audience behind each platform, especially your audience. Who’s looking at your account? It is very good if you can, and I have found this to be mission impossible, but it is also great if you keep a schedule of when you are posting. I know on Facebook, there’s specific times of day when there are more people on Facebook than others. Usually, if I share something in the morning or midday, it doesn’t get nearly as much of a response as when I share it later in the evening.
Think about when you are online and scrolling through your feed. For me, that usually is after hours, after school, sitting on the couch, trying to unwind from my day. If you want more eyes on what it is you are sharing, pay really close attention to when you post something and how many comments and likes that it receives. That’s how many eyes have actually seen it. If you can keep a schedule, that’s fabulous. There are actually apps that you can use that can help you post things at specific times.
Remember, keep your media looking on brand, be consistent and fresh, and if you are using Instagram, it’s super helpful to know your hashtags. Hashtags are super important. Why are they so important? We’ll talk about them in just a moment.
Let’s talk about number five: Cultivate a following. It can be kind of distracting and pretty much detrimental if you pay too close attention to your followers and numbers and who has how many followers, and I got two new followers today, and oh my goodness. Let it go. Enjoy your social media experience, have fun with it, but let’s be honest, we don’t post things for nobody to see them, so in order to cultivate a following on your chosen social media platform, might I recommend the following: Make sure that your phone lens is clean. Wipe it off every single time you get ready to snap a photo. There’s nothing worse than that weird, hazy, fuzzy photo that shows up in your feed because somebody has a fingerprint smudge on their lens, so clean your lens.
If you’re snapping photos, take a ton of photos, and take a ton of photos from different angles. Get really close, get really low, pull back. I always snap Instagram photos in the square format of my phone. That way, I don’t have to worry about cropping later. I’m able to crop as I snap my photos. Snapping a ton of photos will also make it so you have a wide variety to choose from when you’re getting ready to share. That way, you can pick the very best.
Remember, if you’re going to try to cultivate a brand, to stay on brand, try to keep with your look. If you always use a specific color, I use a lot of blues and yellows in mine, then look for that when you’re getting ready to snap a photo. That will help you stay on brand. If you use filters on your photos, then use the same filters. Be consistent. Like I said, remember somebody scrolling through their feed? When your photo pops up, people should be able to know, “Oh, that’s so-and-so’s Instagram. I love how she always uses X, Y, Z colors, or it’s a really bright filter. I recognize it right away.”
Let’s talk about hashtags for a moment. Hashtags are super important to help you cultivate a following. What I have done is I’ve created a little bit of a hashtag cheat sheet. Go to a person who has a lot of followers on, let’s say, Instagram, and see what hashtags they’re using. Then, open up your notes section on your phone and just type up a bunch of hashtags. That way, every time you snap a photo and you get ready to put it on, let’s say, Instagram, all you have to do is cut and paste your giant paragraph of hashtags. This will make it so you’re not having to type brand new hashtags every single time you share on something like Instagram.
It also helps if you tag people. If you tag companies, then sometimes, they will re-share your photos, which will also help you get a larger following. For example, if you take a picture of your kids using Elmer’s Glue or Royal Langnickel paint brushes or a specific brand of paint, always tag all of those companies. You’ll be surprised, pleasantly so, when you hear a response from them.
My last tip is, like I said before, most of all, have fun. Social media should be a way for you to joyfully advocate your program. It should not be a stressor for you. It should not cause you to feel anxious. When, like I said, when I do, when I’m scrolling through my feed and I feel stressed because I feel as though I’m not doing my best when I see all these other amazing things art teachers are doing, or when I feel the pressure to constantly be sharing, I just take a break. Social media should be a fun experience and a happy way for you to advocate your program, and when it’s not, just step back from it.
Thank you so much, whew, for letting me share a whole lot with you today about social media. I hope these top six tips of mine help you out.
Tim Bogatz: Hello. This is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. Did you know that you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Art Ed PRO, the essential subscription service for professional art teachers? PRO members get instant access to a comprehensive on-demand library filled with hundreds of expert trainings, hands-on tutorials, and rich, printable resources. It is the professional development you need when you need it. With topics ranging from assessment to classroom management to literacy and budgeting, Art Ed PRO has what you need to be the best teacher that you can be. Check it out start your free trial at, and let’s get back to the show as Cassie opens up the mail bag.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mail bag. Psych. I’m not taking a dip into the mail bag. Instead, I’m going to share with you a question that was asked of me this weekend when I was at the Kentucky Art Educators State Conference. Thank you so much, Kentucky, for having me as one of your keynote speakers at your conference. It was so much fun. A little side note, if you are an art teacher and you have not attended your state conferences, then you should really do so. Talk about a great way to stay connected and to meet other like-mind folks. Y’all get you to a fall art teacherin’ conference. They are some of my very favorite things ever.
That being said, one of the questions that was asked of me this weekend was this. “Have you ever always made your own clothing, and have you always dressed the way that you do?” I’m assuming that last part meant, “Have you always dressed this crazy?” Answer: No. In fact, when I first started teaching back in 1998, I had it ingrained in my head that teachers had a specific uniform, and that uniform involved shopping at The Gap, wearing khakis and several unfortunate jean jumpers … Shivers at the thought.
It wasn’t until a couple of years into my art teacherin’ that I just kind of have to give it up. I think it started, maybe, with a silly T-shirt that I noticed my students really responded to, and then it just spiraled out of control from there. I’ve always loved fashion. I had always wanted to learn how to sew, but it wasn’t until about 10 years into teaching that I taught myself how to sew my very first apron.
From there, I then taught myself how to sew clothing. Patterns are really easy to follow. Sewing is actually quite simple. Those of you that have always wanted to learn how to sew but you’re fearful of doing so, here’s how I got myself out of it. I think of sewing as like collage with the sewing machine as being my glue, and the cool thing about it is, is if you mess it all up, they have this magical thing called a seam ripper, and you can just take it all apart. Seriously, I haven’t always dressed this wacky. It’s been a gradual process to this point, but I really enjoy doing so, and I have found that my students enjoy it as well.
Thanks so much for that great question. If you have a question for me, feel free to shoot me an email at
… That was a long, winded chat today. My apologies, but y’all, there’s so much to share with you when it comes to using social media to promote the arts. I’m going to roam through them again right quick.
Number one, you need to figure out which social media platform or platforms work best for you. Take into consideration how much time they do take. Think about the ones that are your favorite because those are probably the ones that you’re best suited to use. Number two, know what you want to give and receive from your social media experience because that will better help you cultivate your following and your brand.
That leads me to number three. Create your own brand or signature look. This will make it so people better understand what it is you are about, and you’ll get the followers that respond best to you. Number four, know how each social media platform works. Knowing that will help you better have a following. Number five, I really went deep with how to cultivate a following. It goes back to creating that signature look, taking beautiful photos, making sure to use your hashtags and your tagging people correctly. Last, but not least, have fun. When you stop having fun, then take a break. Stop doing it.
All right, guys. Thank you so much for letting me share with you my top six ways to use social media to promote the arts, you, and your art program. Thanks, guys.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 9: Burnout

This week, over on Everyday Art Room, I am addressing burnout. I know what you are thinking: Girl, we just started back to school, aren't you talkin' burnout a little early? Maybe...but not for me. You see, I've been feeling that weird, overworked/overwhelmed and under-excited sensation for a couple of weeks. I'm pretty good at the fake-it-til-you-make-it biz but it is catching up with me. Thankfully, for me, I'm heading in to fall break. The hubs and I are taking a trip, I'm getting my first every massage and I plan to do a whole lot of crafting, netflixing and relaxing. Since I was feeling a little meh, I thought I'd address it this week because I know I'm not alone. You can take a listen to the podcast here. I'll be sharing the complete transcript on the blog today.
I have addressed Burnout before in this Art Teacherin' 101. I've been to Burnout Town many a time. I'm usually to blame because of the following bad habits: 

1. Piling too much on my plate.
2. Rarely saying NO to anything.
3. Frustration over my lack of consistency and the results that follow in my art room.

I'm truly to blame for my own burnt-to-a-crispness. Knowing that, it's something I work on. Now, enough about all that, let's get to the podcast!

At the beginning of every Everyday Art Room podcast, I start with a story. I personally refer to it as story time. I don’t know if you’ve realized it or not. You might, if you have figured it out, refer to it as torture time. Be that as it may, I’m going to share a story with you right now. Now, usually, I share stories that are of the humorous nature. This one’s a little different.
I would say it was probably in my fifth or seventh, or who knows when, year of teaching. When you’ve been teaching as long as I have, you start to lose track. I was feeling sick a lot, and not the kind of sick where a kid sneezed on you and now you’re just laid flat for a week. No, the kind of sick where I could tell something was on my mind and it was affecting me physically, making me feel ill. I went to a doctor, and I told her that I was feeling stressed. It was causing me to feel unwell. I was getting a lot of headaches, and I was seeking advice from the doc on what I should do.
She was really concerned. She said to me, “Wow, it sounds like you have a really stressful job. What is it that you do?” I said, “I’m an elementary art teacher.” She paused and then laughed at me. I get it. I understood. I understand why she laughed. At the same time, I thought, “This is a person who doesn’t get it.” I know it might seem, to the average person on the outside, that I finger-paint all day, but, as you know, we don’t. Our job can be stressful, and it can lead to something called burnout. I’m very familiar with burnout. I actually was just familiar with burnout last week. Let’s talk about it. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Now, I’m going to be really honest with you guys today. I have actually experienced the joys of burnout many a time. Like I said, just last week, I was really contemplating my life’s choices, so to speak. Probably the most game-changerin’, if that’s a word … It is now … time that I had burnout was back in 2012, and I remember the year well because it’s when I decided to start blogging. Here’s how it went down, Charlie Brown. I was really feeling like I was stuck in a rut. I wasn’t creating. My passion had always been painting. I wasn’t doing that at all. I would come home and watch television, and go to bed, and go to school, and not do lessons that were very inspired or inspiring. I was just kind of repeating things I had done from year to year. I was bored, basically.
I thought, “You know what, I really enjoy looking at blogs.” At that time, I really enjoyed looking at blogs where girls were featuring the outfits that they were wearing, so I thought, “What if I start a blog where I share a lesson that I create, something that I personally have created, a DIY, and what I’ve worn that week? What if I do that? If I do that, it’ll kind of help me hold my feet to the fire and make it so that every week I’m really thinking about a new lesson to share with my students, something fun that I can create to tap into my creative juices and get them flowing again, and to showcase something that I love to do, which is dress like a crazy person.” That’s how my blog, which is called Cassie Stephens … Obviously, I didn’t spend a lot of creative power coming up with that name … came to be. A lot of people used to refer to it as What the Art Teacher Wore because that was a big feature on my blog.
All that to say, that was a real game changer for me. Suddenly, I was excited to go to school because I had come up with a fun project. I was excited to go home and create, not watch television, because I had a really fun DIY that I had a deadline for, that I knew had the week to come up with it and share it. Then, of course, I really enjoy dressing like a fool, so it’s always fun to share that aspect. That’s my journey. That’s what I did. I’m not saying all y’all need to go out and start a blog. What I am saying is that finding your passion, tapping into it, probably something that you’ve neglected … You’ve neglected yourself for a long time, I’m guessing, if you’re feeling burnout … is going to really help you get out of that rut.
Like I said, that’s my journey. Now I want to share with you my top seven ways to get out of burnout. Let’s start with number one. Number one, know that it is okay. You are not broken. You are still a fabulous art teacher. You are just experiencing burnout. It’s natural. It happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe when you get on social media that these awesome art teachers that you follow might actually experience burnout, but they do. If they tell you they don’t, they be lying. Don’t believe them. I’m telling you, I’ve been there many a time. Know that it’s okay. Don’t judge your feelings. Listen to them. That’s thing number one.
Thing number two, like I said a moment ago, know that we have all been there. Knowing that, consider reaching out to another art teacher. Ask them, “hey, I’m feeling a little bit burnt out. Have you been there?” You know they have. “What do you do to kind of get yourself out of that rut?” If you don’t have a fellow art teacher and buddy to reach out to, then consider a friend at school. If you’re comfortable with your admin, talk to your administration. They might have some really good tips to help you get out of that rut. They might be able to offer a book for you to read or even some classes to take.
Or just talk to somebody completely removed from the situation, like, tip number three, a therapist. Okay, I’m going to get real with you. Your insurance should cover a therapist. If your insurance covers a therapist and you are feeling burnout, get a therapist. I am a big advocate of talking to a therapist. I spent a long time talking to one. He was fabulous. It was a great experience. It was great to just talk to somebody who was totally removed from the situation, because what he did for me was he offered a completely different perspective. There’s nothing wrong with you or with talking to a therapist. Okay, I’m stepping off my therapist soapbox.
Number four, treat yo’self. Yes. I am a big Aziz Ansari fan, and I firmly believe in his words of wisdom of “Treat yo’self.” If you are feeling in a rut, then take yourself out of the situation. Go somewhere fun after school. One of my favorite ways to treat myself after school if I’m feeling like I just need a break is to go to the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. That is how I roll. That is how I treat myself. Seriously. The funny thing is is that because we can never turn our art-teachering brain off, I get so much inspiration when I go to places like the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. I also find a lot of DIY project ideas while I’m there. Think of what you really enjoy doing. Maybe it’s getting a mani-pedi. Maybe it’s, I don’t know, a massage, something a little bit more elaborate and fancy than going to the thrift store or the Dollar Tree. Now you know how I roll. Treat yourself. You deserve it, and sometimes you really need it.
Let’s talk about number five. This is what I was chatting about at the very beginning of this little convo, returning to your passions. Like I said, my passion used to be painting. I got my BFA in painting in college, and for some reason, I had it in my head that you could only be a true artist if (a) you were painting all the time and (b) you were painting all the time. Seriously, I had a really hard time getting that notion out of my head and just knowing that, no, just creating in general is being creative. You don’t have to go with that idealized version of an artist to be an artist. Just make something, which is now what I do constantly. I am always making something.
The thing is, I’m never painting. That’s the hilarious part. I’ve never returned to that passion. I actually think that I got that one out of my system, but I do really enjoy creating. It’s my passion. I love wearing crazy clothes, so sewing is also a passion. What I have found is that creating is like a ball rolling down a hill. Once the ball starts rolling, it just picks up momentum and it moves faster and faster, and pretty soon you find that you have more projects than you have time, whereas, in the past, I was always stumped for ideas. I never had anything that I was looking forward to making because I hadn’t gotten the ball rolling. Stop and think about what your passions are, and take some time, because it’s very important, to focusing on creating. It’s what brought you to art teachering in the first place.
All right, let’s talk about number six. Go easy on yourself. Think of the KISS method. Keep It Simple, Stupid. I’m talking about in the art room. I have kindergarten through fourth grade students. That means I have five lessons I need to come up with, or do I? Sometimes when I’m feeling a little bit burnt out and I’m feeling like I just am stressed … I’m getting out five different sets of art supplies and prepping five different visuals and videos and lessons … I just take a break and think, “You know what, it is okay if kindergarten and first grade do the same project, and it is okay if second and third, or even fourth, do the same project.” It’s fine. Keep it simple. What will happen is is that you’ll be happier, and as we all know, a happy art teacher makes for a happy art room. If you’re feeling burnt out, relax, breathe, and keep it simple, stupid. Sorry, I said the S word.
Last but not least, and this one is really important, get off social media. If you are feeling burnt out, it’s probably because you’re comparing yourself and your life to others. FYI, what people post on social media is the good stuff. Most people aren’t sharing the nitty-gritty, the bad, the ugly, because people don’t want to paint that picture of themselves. It’s just human nature, myself included. Just take a little social media break.
Put down your phone, enjoy the fam, create something, treat yourself, and keep it simple, and talk to a therapist. I think if you do at least a couple of those things, you’ll find that the burnout starts to ease a little bit and hopefully will eventually go away. I hope that’s been a little bit helpful to you. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a little nugget of info or an idea for you. Thanks for letting me share what’s worked for me.
Tim Bogatz: Hello, this is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. As you probably know, Art Ed PRO is the subscription service for professional art teachers offered by The Art of Ed. Earlier this week, we released three new learning packs, one on beginning with watercolor painting, one on diving deep in color theory, and one on using games in the art room. All of them are great, and all of them are really in-depth. Each of the three learning packs has between 15 and 20 videos, and all of them also have about a dozen resources that you can print immediately and use in your classroom. PRO members get three new learning packs every single month, and you have 24/7 access to every learning pack in the library. Sign up for your 30-day free trial and check out everything at Before you go sign up, though, you should probably give Cassie your attention for the rest of this episode. Enjoy.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This first question comes from Casey. Casey asks, “I’m curious if you have ever considered getting your National Board Certification, and what’s your opinion on that?” Well, I have never considered getting my National Board Certification because I’ve spoken with people who have their National Board Certification and it does not sound like my cup of tea. From what I’ve heard, there is a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and organization involved. Those three words are not my favorite. I do know that people who have pursued getting their National Board education have said that they feel like it has made them a better teacher, they’ve been more reflective of their methods, and improved upon art teachering.
This is funny because it really does tie into burnout. If I were to pursue my National Board Certification, it would be a quick ticket to burnout town for me. For me, I know what works, and I know if I wanted to learn something new or become a better teacher, I would be better suited to take a class, a ceramics class, a sewing class, where I’m pursuing my passion, but also gaining knowledge that I can bring back to my art room. But that’s me. If National Board Certification sounds like your cup of tea, then I say go ahead and drink it, but I also would suggest talking to somebody who’s gotten their National Board Certification, who can speak a lot more intelligently on the topic. Great question, Casey.
My next question comes from Kathleen. Kathleen says, “In the very first episode of Everyday Art Room, you mentioned a game called The Smartest Artist, but you didn’t explain how it works. Can you do that, please?” I would love to. In fact, I have created a video with The Art of Ed that does a better job probably than I’m about to do of explaining The Smartest Artist Game because there’s a visual.
Essentially, this is what we do. My students line up, and once everybody is in line, I pick three students standing nicely in line, a boy, a girl, and then whoever else is standing nicely. There’s a dry erase board on an easel standing nearby, and I give the boy and the girl a dry erase marker. I give the third student something called a sound machine. It’s this tiny little gadget that can make sound effects. You can find a sound machine on Amazon.
I say to the students, “Now it’s time for …” and they all reply, “The Smartest Artist.” Then I say, “All right, this is a question for the girls. Girls, can you please tell me the primary colors?” While they’re in line, the girls will raise their hand, and my friend who is a girl with the dry erase marker will call on one of the girls. If the girls get the answer correct, then they get a point on the dry erase board. The sound effects person with the sound machine … There’s a couple of fun little sounds on there, like a drum roll and an applause, so that’s what that student takes care of. They are the sound effects engineer.
Once the girls have gotten their point, we pass the next question on to the boys. We go back and forth with this usually a couple of times until the time is up, and we do this as a great review, and it’s also great to do if you have a couple of minutes where you’ve lined your kids up a pinch too early, not to mention they absolutely love The Smartest Artist game. Kathleen, I hope that claresified it … Girl, probably not. I hope that clarifies it just a pinch. Like I said, check out that video on The Art of Ed for a visual.
Guys, if you have any questions for me, feel free to send them my way at
Y’all, thank you so much for letting me share my many voyages to burnt out town with you and what has worked for me. Let’s go over them one more time.
Know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m the driver of the burnt out bus. Get on board, y’all. Let’s figure this out.
Get a therapist. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s just like talking to somebody removed from the situation.
Treat yourself. I also can’t recommend that enough, although, you know, going to the Dollar Tree and the thrift store might be a little bit lowbrow for you, so find what really will help you feel better and feel treated.
Return to your passions. That’s super important, and that’s really what helped me get out of my rut.
Go easy on yourself. Remember the KISS method when you’re in your art room. You’ll be much happier when you’re relaxed, and a happy art teacher makes for a much happier art room.
Last but certainly not least, get off social media. Take a break. Live in the now, y’all.
Thank you so much for letting me share my many trips to burnt out town. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Everyday Art Room: Episode 6

Aw, Lawd, y'all. If you've not listened to this week's podcast, I PROMISE you, you won't wanna miss it. The tale I tell at the start is my VERY favorite art teacherin' story. It's also one that I was surprised that AOE was okay to let air. It's a gem...enjoy! You can find the complete podcast right here
Teaching kindergarten is ALWAYS an interesting ride. I thought I'd share the transcript from the podcast here. I also recently recorded myself teaching kindergarten. Here is our first day of art together...
And here is a recording of our class this week. 
We have a lot of fun together! You can find an entire unit on LINE with kindergarten projects here. Also, if you search my blog for "kindergarten" you'll get a little bit of everything from clay lessons, painting units and more! Now, on with the transcript:

Is it just me or does every really good story in the art room always begin with Kindergarten? I mean it never really seems funny or humorous at the time, let’s be honest, but they do make for really good stories. So I’ve got one for you. I had Kindergarten in my room and we were talking about ROYGBIV, and chatting about how letter in ROYGBIV stands for a color in the rainbow. But the kids were stumped on the letter V. So I gave them a clue. I said, “Okay guys. It looks like purple but starts with a V.” And this really bright girl, very artistic, her hand shot up. I could see a light bulb went off and I just knew this one had the answer. So I called on her. And here’s what she said. “Vagenta.”
I paused just like that with my jaw dropped. And in that moment, because of my pause, I guess the other children assumed that that yes, indeed was the correct answer and the next thing I know I’ve got 20 five year old said saying the word vagenta. Yo, I don’t know what vagenta is. I don’t even think I want to know. And I understand how she combined the two words, violet and magenta, very clever but never a word I want to hear spoken in my art room again. Ah Kindergarten. Today we’re going to talk about how to tame that wild beast. This is Everyday Art Room. And I’m Cassie Stephens.
I don’t think any amount of art education prepares you for the beast that is Kindergarten. Every year when they come trampling into my art room it’s like I have forgotten, once again, just how wild and crazy these wee ones can be. If you do it right, they can end up being your most favorite classes to teach. After all they are a bundle of excitement, questions, interest, and curiosity. The perfect specimen for the art room. If you can tame that beast. So today I’m going to share with you my four tips to getting you kindergarten class to the most amazing level that you possibly can.
Now you’re going to have to bear with me. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. This is a beast after all, but like I said one of the best kind to have in your art room. So let’s start with number one. My first tip for taming that Kindergarten beast, is out crazying the crazy. I mean let’s face it, they’re pretty wild. If you can get them in your art room and really ramp it up over and above their expectations you will immediately have captured their attention. And isn’t that what you need to do first? No amount of, “Please sit quiet. Please put your hands in your lap. Please make sure you’re sitting on your bottom,” none of that is going to capture all of their attention. You’re going to end up fighting a battle of the stop, quits, don’ts, and I promise you Kindergarten will win each and every time.
For those first couple of days in art class, you got to be even more wild and crazy than the kids are to really capture their attention. Here’s what I do. I start the very first day of art with my Kindergarten students, with the Larry the Lion poem. Once everybody’s seated, I show them how to hold their arms in a specific way to make a snake. Try it with me. Take your left arm, and hold it horizontally under your chest. Take your right arm and hold it vertically underneath the fingertips of your left arm. You’re essentially making a big L. The vertical line, that’s your snake. So with your hand, create a puppet mouth. And, get ready, repeat after me.
I teach them real fast that whenever they hear me clear my throat that means they’re about to repeat after me. “Larry, the lion, is a friend of mine.” In which case our Larry nods his head gives us a smooch on the cheek. “He can make three straight lines for me. Vertical,” in which case we’re holding our arm up and down. Then tilt it a little bit. “Diagonal.” Now have it lay on top of your left arm horizontally. “Horizontal. Any curve, he can learn with a twist and a turn. When he’s out of his tangle, he makes great angle. Any line, he can make. After all, he’s a snake.” Now I have a video of myself doing these motions so you can actually see the hand motions that I teach my students. It’s on my YouTube channel. You’re more than welcome to take this back to your own art teachering world. I promise you your Kindergarten friends will love it.
We do that poem about two or three times getting louder and more crazy every time. Then I really out crazy the crazy. I bring out a stuffed snake. With my stuffed snake I form different lines and review the names of the lines we just talked about. Now you want to talk about being wild and crazy and having everybody’s attention, all you got to do is pull out a stuffed snake with Kindergartners and you’ve got them hooked. So that’s tip number on. Out the crazy the crazy.
Another tip is this. If you notice, after you’re covering your rules and routines, because let’s be honest, you have to do that with your Kindergarten kids of course. In a more abbreviated manner. You might notice that they’re a little bit squirrely. And like I said, you don’t want to get into a battle of the stop, quit, don’ts because they will win. Instead, sometimes you got to go with my second tip which is ride the wave. Don’t fight it. In fact whenever I have a classroom of Kindergarten kids or any of my classes in fact, and I can tell there’s an excitement in the room that I am not going to be able to fight, it’s just present and I’m going to have to ride that wave because you can not fight it.
And if you find yourself in that kind of predicament, here’s what I always do. This works great for all of my students, but especially my Kindergarteners. I’ll say, “Okay, everybody stand up.” Once everybody’s standing, myself included, I’ll clear my throat and we do a little dance. I’ll say, “Clap your hands,” and we do it. “Clap your hands,” and they do it. “Clap them just like me.” Then, “Shake your bottom,” and I demonstrate. “Shake your bottom,” I do it again. “Shake it just like me.” We go through the twist, the mash potato, the swim, I keep on going until I feel like they’ve gotten the giggles and wiggles out. When that’s the case, we end it with “Take a deep breath, let it out. Relax just like me.” And I really turn down the tone and the speed of my voice, and I say, “Let’s see who’s sitting so nicely in the first row with their hands in their lap.”
Once you get the giggles and the wiggles out, and they’re seated on the floor you’ll notice, especially if you change the way that you’re speaking like I’ve changed mine, you’ll notice that the temperature in the room, the mood is a lot calmer. You rode the wave, you rode it out. Mission accomplished. Now granted, that’s just being silly and dancing. If you want to make it educational, why not do that? I once learned from an art teacher, have all of your kids stand up and do this. Have their arms out side-by-side and say, “Horizontal,” please forgive my singing, “Horizontal. Side to side. Side to side.” My hands are sweating because I feel so stressed singing in front of you guys. My apologies. Have their arms go up and down. “Vertical goes up and down. Vertical goes up and down.” Then have the kids lean. “Diagonal. Diagonal.” Another great way to ride the wave, wiggles and giggles begone. And it’s educational.
Now sometimes you are going to need to calm those friends down which brings me to number three. In episode four I chatted about being calm and bringing a calmness to your art room. One way to do that, I mentioned, is something called palming. Now I won’t go through palming all over again in this episode, but if you go back to episode four I share with you how to do palming. Y’all, if you have kids that you are trying to calm down, palming is the best way to do it. I can’t recommend it enough. And like I said, using your voice, the diction of your voice, and your breath is really impactful when you’re trying to relax and calm children. Kindergarteners are little mirrors of you. If you’re excited, they’re excited. If you start to bring the level down, most of them will eventually catch on and do the same.
All right. So this brings me to number four. You remember the show ER? Of course we all remember that show. And I just remember in every episode of ER they were always shouting, “We’re losing them. We’re losing them,” in which case they would bring out those paddles and give them electric shock. I every now and then have that running through my mind when my Kindergartners are either walking around, they’re painting, it’s getting a little bit dangerously close to chaos and I just think, “We’re losing them. I’m losing them,” And I want to bust out those paddles and just give them a jolt to bring them all back together.
So one way, if you notice that your bag of tricks is empty and you’re starting to lose them, here are some last resorts. One thing my students in Kindergarten and other grades as well, really respond to are videos. Especially really great singy songy videos. My favorite are created by Scratch Garden, and they can be found on YouTube. There’s a great one about lines, and colors, and shapes. We watch it enough in my room, that the children have the song memorized. So that way as soon as I turn it on, I notice that the kids are starting to clean up or they’re in different phases of creating, and some of them are coming to the floor to come back for circle time.
I just press play, and and the whole room kind of gets very calm as they all start singing the line song, or the color song. So I’d really recommend having that in your bag of kindergarten tricks. One more tip, I love the books called Look. Or Look again by Tana Hoben. These are picture books and all they are are photographic images that she’s zoomed in very close and what I do is I share that book with my students when they start to trickle to the floor, my early finishers. And we look at the blown up images and try to guess what they are pictures of.
It creates a great calming game. We bring in a lot of the element of art like line and texture. And it’s an awesome book just to have on hand when you have a couple of minutes to spare. Something for your bag of Kindergarten tricks.
All right guys. So remember, you can tame this awesome Kindergarten beast. I hate to even use that word, because they really are amazing creatures and they want to be in your room so bad. They’re so enthusiastic and absolutely delightful if you can get them tamed. This is Cassie Stephens. And this is Every Day Art Room.
Tim Bogatz: I hope you’re enjoying this episode of Every Day Art Room. I love all things Kindergarten, and if you are the same way I want to recommend the Art of Ed’s Rethinking Kindergarten online graduate course. It is a great way to give your Kindergartners the teaching that fits their developmental needs. You will study the Reggio Amelia approach, exploring your role as an educator, and the role of the arts in our young student’s education. Rethinking Kindergarten is a two credit hour course that runs for four weeks. New sections will be starting in October, November, and December, and you can see more about the course or register at the Now let’s hear what Cassie has to say as she dips into the mailbag and finishes the show.
Cassie Stephens: All right. Let’s take a little dip into the mailbag. This question I actually get a lot, and it comes from Lauren. She asks, “What program do you use to record and edit your videos for the kiddos?” Great question Lauren. Let me just start by saying that you can use what you already have. Please don’t break the budget to create videos. Just either grab your phone, grab and iPad, and try using that. I like to create videos on my iPad. It’s probably my favorite way to do it because it’s the fastest. On your phone, or your iPad, you can download the iMovie device.
Now if you have an Android phone, which is what I’ve had in the past, you can not put iMovie on there. But there are a lot of other easy movie editing apps that you could add to your Android. I just don’t happen to know what they are. So for me, I record short clips with my iPad then I open up iMovie and I just start adding those short clips into iMovie. My favorite thing to do is to silence the clip and speed up the clip. And I do that for two reasons. I like to do voiceovers so I don’t have to think on my feet when I am recording. And I also am trying really hard to make my videos shorter. So speeding them up really helps with that.
iMovie is super fun and easy to use. I can’t really tell you how to use it here, simply because you need a visual. So for that I would strongly recommend you hop on over to YouTube. You can totally find all of your answers there. And by the way, if you ever want to use any of the videos I’ve created in my art room, you can find them on my channel, which is under my name, Cassie Stephens. You’re more than welcome to use those in your art teachering world. That’s precisely why I share.
Now if you’re going to make your videos maybe a little bit more pro looking, you could record them with your camera. I would definitely invest in a tripod. You don’t have to get a fancy one, just hop on over to your big box store and pick one up. Once you’ve gotten your clips filmed on your camera, then you can upload them to your laptop and edit that way. Doing it that way adds another layer of work. However, the laptop version of iMovie has a lot more things that you can do than you can do on your iPad. So those are my tips. My strongest recommendation would to be just do it. Dive right in, grab your phone, prop your phone up on a couple of books, press record. Why not? You don’t even have to edit it. Just share that with your kids, see what works. See what doesn’t work. Go for it.
If you have any questions for me, please feel free to send them my way at It’s been so much fun chatting with you guys about the amazing creatures known as Kindergarten. Remember my four tips. Maybe they’ll help you out. You got to out crazy the crazy. Bring the excitement, that way they aren’t as distracted by other things or each other in your room. Shine a light on yourself, and you’ll have their attention. Also remember, don’t try to fight the wave. Ride the wave. Just go with it. If they’re excited, do something exciting. Make sure to ride that wave, otherwise you’ll just fall into a battle of the stop, quit, and do nots, and let’s face it. They going to win y’all. Always and forever. You can of course bring them back down with your calm voice, slow pace, and deep breathing.
Remember to check out episode four, and listen to how to do palming for calming with your students. And last but not least, if you feel like you’re losing them, make sure you have a couple of things in your bag of tricks. Grab some favorite books. Also don’t forget about the power of some awesome videos with song. It’s been so much fun chatting with you guys about the awesomeness that is Kindergarten. Talk to you soon.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

In the Art Room: Everyday Art Room, Episode 5

Can I go all Honest Abe on y'all for a moment? I've been hosting the podcast Everyday Art Room for the last month and, for the first handful of episodes, something felt off. Because I've been working with The Art of Ed on this venture, I felt like I should sound, for lack of a better word, "professional". So I donned my Speech Geek hat (I was a big time speech geek in high school...much love to my amazing English teacher/speech coach Mr. Dave McKenzie!) and used my "speeching" voice...and not my for realz voice. The content was all me but the tone All that to say, I've dropped the act. I'm not "professional" (just ask my teacherin' buddies), I'm not an expert in my field and I seriously have a lot to learn about this thing we call art teacherin'. Don't we all? 
So, what am I trying to say? Who knows...that's the point, I certainly don't know! What I do know is that I hope you'll take a listen to Everyday Art Room if you haven't already. I have LOVED working on this podcast...I hope you enjoy it just as much. In case you are interested, here is the transcript: 

Some of you guys might know that I have a gong in my art room. That’s gong with a G, thank you very much. It’s our cleanup gong. It is a massive gong, 24-inch, and it is probably the coolest thing in my room, according to my students. I’ve been asked, “How did you get a gong in your art room?”
Well, it was a 10-year wedding anniversary gift, my present. What? You guys didn’t get one of those? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not the standard 10-year wedding anniversary gift, but it is if you are in my household. Anyway, I digress. It is obviously the coolest thing in my room, and we use it as a signal for cleanup.
As you know, cleanup can be a little bit hairy, so imagine, if you will, this scenario. I’ve got a room full of 25 first graders. We’re late, as usual. We’ve been painting, and cleanup has become pandemonium. I have a student. She’s standing at the gong. Her one and only job is to hit the gong, to signal to everybody else to stop and clean up, but for some reason, she’s frozen. She’s holding the mallet. She’s standing at the gong, and she’s not hitting the gong. It’s just then, that the classroom teacher walks in, and my administrator, to see, number one, why am I running late, as usual, and two, what’s all the chaos about?
That’s when, from across the room, a little girl shouts, “Hit the bong! It’s time to hit the bong!” to the frozen little girl at the gong with a G. It’s then, my admin turns to me and says, “Really, Stephens? Really?” This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Today, we’re going to talk about all things cleanup. Cleanup, as you know, is a really important part of your art class, for a couple of reasons. It can salvage your sanity, your art supplies, and it’s how you end your art class. You always want to end your art class on a positive and upbeat note, not one where kids are yelling about hitting a bong and not cleaning your room up to your expectations.
Today, I’m going to share with you the Four F’s of Cleanup: How to Make Sure that Your Cleanup is Fun, Fast, Chaos Free, and has a Flow. I’m going to share those four tips with you today and hope that it’s something that you can take back to your art room and ensure that your cleanup is fun, fast, chaos free–there’s my F; that’s why I keep emphasizing free–and has a flow. Let’s start at the beginning.
Before you can think about how you’re going to introduce cleanup to your students, you need to put yourself in your students’ shoes. Go sit at one of their tables, get a paper, get some paint, have a little fun and create a painting, just relax. As you’re sitting there working, think about how the art room looks, through your students’ eyes. Then think about cleanup. Where will your students put their dirty brushes? Where will your students put their painting? Do you have one drying rack or multiple ones, like I do? Where will you position that drying rack, so that it’s easy for your students to get to, so there’s not a bottleneck of children? How will they clean their hands–oh, my goodness!–the bane of our existence? Once you’ve really sat down and thought those things through, then you’ll be much better prepared to introduce a cleanup routine that’s fun, fast–say it with me–chaos free, and has a flow. Let me share with you how my cleanup looks.
First of all, before my students even gather up their supplies to start their project, I do call and response. Call and response, if you’re not familiar, is when your students repeat after you. Believe it or not, I do this for every class, kindergarten through fourth grade, done it for years, so the kids know what to expect. In order for me to get their attention, to remind them that they’re about to repeat after me, I simply clear my throat–ahem–and they know that whatever I’m about to say, they are going to repeat.
I usually go through what our directions are for the day, what supplies they will be using, and I also cover cleanup. It might sound a little like this: “When I’m finished,” and then I pause for them to repeat, “I will take my paintbrush to the paintbrush hot tub.” That’s right. We have a can full of water that we refer to as the paintbrush hot tub. I have found that the sillier you make things, the more they stick. Silly sticks, so give that paintbrush hot tub a fancy name, and they’ll remember it.
Call and response really works for me in my art room, because it gets all of the children repeating with me and doing hand jives and hand motions where they will be cleaning up. That’s one way to make your cleanup a little faster. If your students know in advance what they are to do when they finish–and this really helps those early finishers–they don’t have to come up to you and ask you, “Hey, where do I put my painting?” because they already know. If you can get a call and response going, or if you can instill in your students where everything goes, before they even start working, that will make your cleanup a lot faster.
Now, let’s talk about chaos free. Whew! Last year, I had doubled up third and fourth grade classes. That means I was maxing out around 35 kids in my room, big kids, not the littles, and it could get really chaotic during cleanup. I mean, I literally would jut stand back and watch the chaos. I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s fine. It’s because there’s 35 of them. It’s supposed to look like this.” No, y’all. It doesn’t have to look that way. Let’s talk about how to make your cleanup chaos free.
I have a time timer in my room, and I set it so that it goes off about seven minutes before we are to leave, and that’s our two-minute warning. About two minutes before cleanup, in an effort to try to make cleanup chaos free, when the timer goes off, all of my students are to go to level zero–that means they are silent–and I just cover where everything goes, one more time, with them, and I make them help me with this. I’ll say, “Please point to where dirty paintbrushes go,” and all arms swing toward the paintbrush hot tub. “Please point to which drying rack you will be using. Please point to where aprons go. Please point to where baby wipes can be found,” if we’re using them that day. That way, one more time, in just a matter of seconds, all of my students understand where everything is going to go, so there’s no confusion and hopefully a little less chaos during cleanup.
Now, let’s talk about flow. Remember when I mentioned that you should sit and create a painting? When you’re done with that painting, make sure, when you’re putting things away, that there’s a flow, a flow of traffic. Think about yourself being like a crossing guard or a person directing traffic. You want the traffic of your room to have a flow, to make sense. Last year, I had all of my drying racks–they’re small and moveable–all in one place, and it created a huge bottleneck of children getting to the drying rack. Somebody always ended up dropping a painting or getting paint on them.
This year, I moved my drying racks in such a way that they are at the ends of every long table where children sit, so when they stand up, they’re automatically in line to put their artwork on the correct drying rack. It only took me 19 years to figure that one out, so I’m sharing it with you. I hope that little nugget helps you out. Think about how you could have more of a flow, so it’s not children going every which way. I even recently picked up, from the Dollar Tree, some of these reusable arrows that stick to the floor. That’s been a great way for me to visually share with my students my flow of traffic.
Now, last but not least is how to make cleanup fun. Okay, brace yourselves. I’m going to tell you about the best thing ever! It is called the cleanup contest. Dum-dum-dah! Oh, my goodness! This is a hit. Let me tell you how this goes down. I always pick one student, who’s working extremely hard, to play the cleanup gong. The gong is played five minutes prior to cleanup. When the kids hear the cleanup gong, this is how the contest works. They are to clean up at level zero. That’s right, silent cleanup. The reason we do this is because it really cuts down on the chaos.
I noticed a lot of times when we were cleaning, there were a lot of conversations going on that didn’t entail creating art and definitely didn’t have anything to do with cleanup, so forget about it. Go to silent cleanup. As the students are cleaning up, they are responsible for their own area.
I have yet to master the table jobs, so all of my students are responsible for cleaning after themselves. However, if they are finished cleaning up, and they have friends at their table who need help, they are to step up and help them out, so all of the tables are working together. They’re a team to get their tables tidy. The way the kids show me that they are completely finished cleaning up is they are to stand behind their pushed in chair, with a zero in the air, meaning they have their hand up, and they’re creating a zero with their fingers. This is how their table shows me they are ready. Usually, I try to emphasize that the best table gets all sorts of privileges. We don’t know what they are, but they just get a lot of praise from me. Isn’t that a privilege in itself?
Then I will usually choose one student, who’s standing exceptionally well, to be the cleanup contest judge. I’ll call that child to stand right next to me, and I have all of the kids–this is where the fun part comes in–do a drum roll on the back of their chair. It’s like a thunder in my room, a roar of thunder, and the kids stop when the judge makes the stop motion with their arm. One way to really ensure that they stop is to tell them that the judge is basing their choice upon who stops the fastest.
When the judge makes that motion with their arm, I make a big announcement, like this, “And the winner of the cleanup contest is …” I pass it over to the judge. They announce the table, and then there’s an eruption of an applause, and that table gets to line up, at level zero. Ah, and that’s how we do cleanup. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s chaos free, as much as cleanup in the art room can be, and there’s a flow.
I hope that those tips have helped you. I hope that you can add them to your already awesome cleanup routine to make it even more awesomer. Thanks for letting me share that with you guys. It was fun.
Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This question comes from Robin. Robin asks, “Do you have any wise words of advice to share about student teaching or teaching in general?”
Whew! That’s a big one, Robin. I think I can help you out in a couple of short tips, but that actually sounds like an episode of Everyday Art Room, if I’m going to be honest, but let me see if I can help you out. I just jotted down a couple of my tips, words of advice that I would give somebody, who’s venturing into their first year of teaching or student teaching. Boy, that question brought back a lot of memories.
First of all, biggest and most important, is please be on time or, better yet, be early. I remember when I was student teaching, I always made sure to get there before my cooperating teacher. I was overwhelmed, anxious, had a lot of things that I felt like I needed to do, and just getting there early and actually having a little bit of time to myself was wonderful. I have had cooperating teachers in my room, not my student teachers but visitors to my art room, who’ve been late before, who’ve been no-call no-shows, and I can tell you, before I even met that person, I had already formed an opinion of them. Leave your house early. Give yourself plenty of time. Make sure everything’s ready to go, so you’re not feeling scattered and rushed and flustered, and quite possibly could get into a car accident on your way. That is my biggest, number one tip: Be on time.
Of course, another tip I would offer is to get out and meet the other teachers. Believe it or not, I’m actually kind of shy. I don’t enjoy meeting people that I don’t know. It kind of freaks me out. It’s something that I work on all the time. My advice would be that you need to do that, though. You need to get out of your art room and meet other people. Introduce yourself, share ideas, collaborate. That being said, don’t be a doormat, meaning don’t open up your art room to art supply giveaway. Remember, you are not a craft store, and teachers need to know that, as well, and you don’t want to be taken advantage of. Next thing you know, you’re making posters for everybody on the planet. You need to make sure that, despite getting out and making new friends, you aren’t taken advantage of, and neither is your art room.
That was a great question, Robin, and, like I said, one that I think I need to explore more in an upcoming podcast. Do you have a question for the mailbag? Please feel free to email me at I would love to hear from you.
It’s been a blast sharing with you guys cleanup. Who knew cleanup could be a blast, but why not make it that way? Remember, by a blast, I don’t mean that it needs to be chaotic. Let’s talk about it. Remember, you can make your cleanup fast by doing a call and response at the beginning of class. That way all of the kids understand all of your expectations for cleanup.
You can also make it chaos free. Two minutes before cleanup, have your students point out where they’re going to place everything. That way, when it’s time for cleanup, nobody’s asking questions. Everybody knows what to do.
Also, think about your traffic flow. You want to make sure that your cleanup makes sense, so all of your kids are moving in a rhythm and not scattered all over the place, walking from one end of your room to the other. Think about your flow.
Then, last but not least, make it fun. Why not? Give my cleanup contest game a try. I would love to hear from you if you do. Remember, it’s easy, but to win, they have to clean up at level zero. Everybody is responsible for their own area, and, when they’re finished, they help buddies tidy their table, standing behind their pushed in chair with a zero in the air, and then pick a person to decide who the winners of the cleanup contest are. Of course, tie in what already works for you. Don’t throw that out the window. You guys, have an awesome time teaching art. This is Cassie Stephens, and this is Everyday Art Room.

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