May 8, 2012

Posted by | 19 Comments

Late Again? Coping with Tardy Teachers

Art Teacher Pet Peeve: Teachers are late dropping off and picking up their students from art class!

Nothing gets under an art teacher’s skin more!! You are in your classroom waiting, waiting, ready to start the art lesson. In fact, you are always there ready for the students.. The problem? The class is late again. So..Fast forward one hour. The class is cleaned up, students are in line, you’ve sung a little song… waiting…waiting.. the teacher is late picking up the students again. 5 minutes of your prep is wasted, or worse, the other class is waiting loud and obnoxious in the hallway wanting to get in.  Then, you have another classroom teacher annoyed their prep time is being wasted, and unfortunately, even though it’s not your fault, you feel bad….



No one tries to make our lives miserable by being late. Some people just loose track of time, get caught up in the hallway or with a parent on a phone call, however, it’s still a problem, especially for the frequent offenders.

If this is an issue at your school, the simple solutions below will no doubt help you get through the “Tardy Teacher” epidemic. Maybe you can start a revolution implementing these ideas next school year, or pilot a few this year.


Coping with Tardy Teachers


The snake walk is a strategy we developed school wide in efforts to protect EVERYONE’s time during specials and classroom teacher prep and PLC time (they have common planning by grade level while students are at specials).  Because our specials are back to back we have a slick strategy to get students from point A to point B.  The teacher who is dropping off their students, picks up and walks back the current class back to their room. We noticed that teachers are usually  more likely to be on time dropping off, but late to pick up. (imagine that!) so this works perfectly. Since we started this strategy, my classes have flowed much better, and I hardly have to wait anymore- It was like magic and I love it!

Walk Them Back

If no one ever shows up on time picking students up, why not just walk them back yourself? If you have 10 minutes between classes, you have two choices. Wait another 3 minutes hoping the teacher shows up, or use 1 minute to walk them back, and hit the restroom while you are at it. I prefer the latter.  This also will send the message that you won’t just wait around. When time is up, art time is over, and it’s more professional then just sending them unsupervised in the hallway.

Start the Lesson

If another class is waiting out in the hallway, and you are stuck with a class in your room because of late pickups, another trick is to have the existing class in line stand quietly, and escort your new class in. Get started with your new class and lesson. It will be awkward when the teacher finally comes to pick up her class, and sees you already starting with another class. It shows you have important things to be doing, and all kids deserve their allotted art time.

We are all professionals. We are all reasonable human beings, but part of being a professional is respecting other’s time within the busy school day.

You could just talk to the teacher, if one is always the culprit, too. Wouldn’t that be a little less “Middle School” – Hahaha!

Talk to me about Tardy Teachers…How do you cope?

(Graphic by Kevin Black- Mustang Daily)
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  • Megy630

    That is a great post, thanks for all of the ideas. It is one of my biggest pet peeves. There are a few teachers at our school who feel that the special area teachers have too many breaks and they count every second of our planning time. One year someone even had the nerve to post a breakdown of the “instructional time” that special area teachers have vs. classroom teachers. It was humiliating. It never fails when we have a staff meeting and someone discusses a field trip, one of the teachers will say “well what are the specials teachers going to do?” As nice as they are to our faces, there are, unfortunately, a few teachers at my school who evidently feel we are nothing more than babysitters so they can have a break during the day. One of these teachers has brough her class 3 minutes early and picked them up 3 minutes late every single art day this year. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is adding up. I have been very frustrated and just can’t wait for summer break :(

    • Angela Harris

      Oh my, how disrespectful. I would actually say I have much more instructional time than classroom teachers. I spend no part of my day taking kids to the bathroom, or getting ready at the end of the day or eating breakfast. I have taught at schools where teachers acted like specials teachers didn’t have to work hard. I do think my job is much better than their job, but I don’t think it is easy. Also, my perspective is “if you wanted my job, you certainly could have got the art ed degree.”

    • Svnasiegs2

      I am so glad others have these same issues! 2 things I do as we wait… 1) I have an artist of the month area near the door, so we talk about that famous artist, show examples etc. So students are still learning as we wait and 2) we play the moving up and back game. I ask art questions and if students are correct, they move up a spot. If wrong, they move back 3. Students like the game and are still learning! Also, another pet peeve is how teachers think we have nothing to do if they are on a field trip! We have NO downtime!!! That one extra class off is sooo helpful for organizing, etc. I would not want all the testing and parent issues, but I am sooo exhausted! But it is always nice to hear, “why can’t we have art more than once a week!” :)

    • Jan

      This may be passive aggressive, but when I have had that “drop off early” problem one year, as soon as the class showed up I would let the teacher see me leaving.  I’d head to the bathroom for 3 minutes or just take a little stroll.  I don’t know how to make it work on the back end of class though.  Sometimes I start walking them back to class myself.

  • Andrew Lane

    This isn’t a major problem at the three! schools where I teach.  I do have  a game the kids play if they do have to wait in line that I learned from a P.E. teacher.  It is just called the line game or quiet game and I remind students that they face forward, keep their hands to themselves, and have their mouths closed.. I then select the student who is standing in line the “best” and they get to walk out of the line and find another student who is standing in line really well.  The original student walks back to their spot in line because they CAN get picked more than once.  This allows the kids to have control of their own management while I prepare for the next class, if the next class comes in I just send the first class to the hall to continue playing the game.  It works almost all the time and in many cases the kids beg me to play.

  • Jswega

    I always pick up and drop off my classes.  It helps things to move along wonderfully!

    • Kati

       But that isn’t possible with back to back classes. It’s hard when one class ends the same minute the next is supposed to begin.

  • Tery

    I’m lucky to have supportive teachers at my two schools.  For the most part my classes get to me on time and their teachers pick them up on time. I have had chronic late drop off/pick up classes in the past. If a teacher is very late picking up their class I will call the office and have them call into the classroom to let them know we are waiting( I once had someone paged to pick them up one time. Never had to do that again!) If I have a class waiting and it has been a few minutes I will have the class thats leaving line up in the hallway . Their teacher usually comes within a minute or sometimes the teacher dropping off will volunteer to take them back to their class.                                                                         
     . If a class comes to early and I am not ready for them or need my last couple of minutes to prep I will ask the teacher to please wait with them until it is our art time. Generally if a teacher is late they have a good reason and it does not happen to often.

  • Eukent

    I like the snakewalk idea.  And I do find it interesting that it is always the same teacher(s) that are guilty.  I have also noticed that these are also the same teachers that show up at 8:10 when they are supposed to be there at 8 so they are unlocking their doors to waiting students.   I was in a regular classroom for many years prior to art and I know it is easy to get sidetracked at times so I actually had an egg timer on my desk and would set it for myself so I wouldn’t lose track of time. 
    One more trick I have used is to send back a responsible, polite child to the room to tell the teacher we are finished .  They are excited to be my helper and I explain to them that I know their teacher is super busy and simply lost track of time.  I don’t want any hard feelings from the kids or the teachers,  and it works great.

    • Jessica Balsley

      Great suggestions- and so tactful at that!

  • cerretda

    It’s amazing how many of these organizational problems we share around the country!  I am our team leader and when I complain to leadership for our team the response is always the same, “Oh, My, time for another gentle reminder.”  Why. oh/ why does it have to be “gentle” especially for chronic offenders?  This is the schedule, enough excuses, if we can be on time so can classroom teachers.  They are no busier than we are, our planning and lunch time is every bit as important and needed as theirs.  Not being on time is disrespectful, not professional, and thoughtless. When I am on morning bus duty (something classroom teachers don’t have to do) I, too, notice that the drop off pick/up offenders are always the same people who screech into the parking lot 10 to 25 minutes late for work.  I guess you can see where I am on this issue!

    • erica

      Wow! You can be that late for work! We have a time in our district and there are consequences if you clock in later then that! They also installed clock in things with fingerprint identifications. It is very CSI and strange. Granted we don’t have money for art supplies!

      • Cerretda

        No, but the offenders can, I guess!  There’s a “political” sie to it as well.

  • Angela Harris

    I don’t say much, because I am sometimes the late offender. We will get involved in a lesson and just keep working, then frantically trying to clean up and get out the door. It is frustrating when it is the same teachers ALWAYS, though. 

  • erica

    I’m just going to say I’m GLAD I don’t have this issue anymore. There is so much respect among the staff that this would be horrible! I think it should be treated as such elsewhere!

  • Jan

    Boy did you strike a nerve with this one.  Little will make me smolder more than the disrepect of teachers being late to pick up kids. 

    This year I have had the most success with this though, than ever in my entire career.  Outside my door I have a table set up with a digital clock.  It has large red numbers.  Next to it is the days class schedule in large letters.  This seems to have been a subtle way to let teachers know that we both are aware of the time, and I am on time.  I do not let students in early and I let them out exactly on time.  Teachers may be off a minute or two now and again.  That is inevitable in a complex who has clocks displaying a variety of times.  But my teachers can tell it is important to me to be on time.

    I may post a link on my blog to this post.  It’s an important one to me.   jan

  • Pstevens

    I haven’t had a big problem with that issue for a good , long while, thank goodness. But the issue did remind me of something that happened quite a few years ago when I was still pushing the art cart. One teacher in particular would never return to her class on time, making me late with the artcart to the next class. Not being an overly confrontational person at that time, I spoke to my principal and she said that I should leave the room at the appointed time and if anything happened it would fall on the missing teacher, not me! I was astounded! I didn’t think I could walk out on the kids and leave them unattended, but I finally got up the nerve and it worked! The principal kept an eye on that particular teacher and when she didn’t return on time and found the principa lwaiting for her the situation resolved itself rather quickly. If you let people take advantage of you, you only have yourself to blame.

    • Jessica Balsley

      Nice solution, we have to look out for ourselves sometimes! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Ongoingly

    oh boy…this is my (working) life, alright! Thanks for the suggestion “snake walk” I am going to mention to my principal. It sounds like you have the exact schedule i have…PLC=back to back classes=total annoyance when there are chronic late picker-uppers.  Thanks again for addressing this frustrating and sensitive subject!

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