Aug 19, 2013

Posted by | 16 Comments

When should art teachers go back to school?


With summer vacation dwindling away (or gone for some of you) a visit to your art studio/art room is inevitable, and quickly approaching. Some teachers will walk through the doors on the first contract day and others will take the first step days or even weeks before. I happen to be one of the latter people.

I find the sooner I can get back into my art studio, the less I procrastinate and dread the first day. I also find if I want to make changes in my curriculum or start planning for the coming year, I’m most creative and productive in my art studio.

This year, I ventured towards school in the late morning and managed to make two unnecessary stops along the way. At my first stop, my husband happened to call me, and in the middle of our conversation he asked, “Where are you?” I replied, “I’m at the nursery looking at maple trees.” He kindly reminded me that I do this every year, and that I should get to work. Of course I knew he was right, but it didn’t stop me from making my second unnecessary stop at a bakery to purchase a sweet treat.

Every year, I get sidetracked on my way into work for the first day. It never fails. It got me thinking, how many of you find yourself stopping for that unnecessary pastry on your first trip back to school? Do you believe in working before your first contracted day or are you someone who walks in on the first day?

Regardless of when you make your first appearance at school, remember, it’s a new year. You get to start over and change what you want. Trust me, walking through the door with a fresh pastry makes it so much easier!


So, I have to know, when do you go back to school?

Are you in your room all summer or do you wait until the last minute? 

CassidyThis article was written by AOE Team member Cassidy Reinken. Cassidy is a certified K-12 art educator with 7+ years experience. Her background includes teaching elementary and middle school art in Iowa.

About Cassidy | Cassidy’s Articles

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  • Charmaine Boggs

    Like Cassidy, I like to get into my school art studio ahead of time, usually about ten days before the first day with students. We have a “meet the teachers” Open House the Sunday before the first day of school, so even if my lesson plan book is still empty, the studio and hallway gallery have to look ready! I also need my procrastination time…catching up on our summer stories with other teachers and staff members, a side trip to the local Starbucks, and a few hours (or more!) wandering around Pinterest! And of course, I have to allow for two days of inservice and a new student orientation morning!

    • Cassidy Reinken

      Love “wandering around Pinterest.” Who would have thought curriculum development would be so fun!

  • Mallory

    I was in my classroom many times throughout the summer, hosting Open Studios for my soon-to-be seniors. With portfolios to be developed and competitions to prepare for, they were begging me to come in! But the real classroom “nesting” I do every year is always starting in August. Once we’re in the month that school starts, I can’t think about anything else!

  • Jen Matott

    I have already been in my room and have make my plan of attack! It is cleaned and there are supply orders piled up on the counters as well as lots of extra stuff all over the place! I always go in the last week of summer break (put my kids in daycare for 1/2 day) and tackle the big stuff. I hang posters, design bulletin boards, arrange furniture/ label tables, and get things that need to be mass printed out so they are ready on the 1st day. I always stop at Starbucks for a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte before hand! It’s usually a productive time and I wish we would be paid for our time, but it’s best to have this extra time so I’m not stressed come the first day!

    • Cassidy Reinken

      My son started a new daycare so it was a perfect time to also send him for half days while I worked. Wouldn’t it be great to get paid?

  • Cherylkay

    When preparing art lessons for hundreds of elem. students, I prefer to work in my art room once August arrives. Since our school is growing, I thought that I would have to be art on a cart this fall. Luckily for me, my principal is a former art teacher and she decided that the extra space in the lunchroom could be a great art space once a few partitions were placed there. I am soooo glad to have an art area, because the art on a cart style of teaching makes it difficult to teach ceramic skills. Needless to say, I have been at school several days this summer and have organized my supplies and classroom. And thanks to AOE, I have an awesome self-portrait lesson for the K-5th grade kids to dive into later this week. Now if I can just get the 21 seating charts finished up, I’ll be all set! Cassidy & AOE contributors…I WILL be able to Keep Calm & Teach Art more thoroughly this school year! Thanks AOE team!

    • Cassidy Reinken

      CherylKay, those are all really exciting things happening! We are so glad to help you out! That’s great that your principal was an art teacher and c can be am advocate for you! Good luck this year!

  • Crystal B

    I like to go in after the floors have been waxed, counter and sink is cleaned and I can start with a blank slate! This year I was lucky enough to get new (used) tables instead of individual desks! So, when my secretary called me to say they were going to put in the new tables, I rushed into school to let the janitors know where I wanted them :) My janitors are great! After the tables were in, I couln’t stay away! So many things to organize and new ways to decorate… what can I say, I kind of love my job! So, I’ve been in my room since mid July… but now I feel good about our open house at the end of this week! My room is pretty much ready to go!

    • Cassidy Reinken

      My janitors are also amazing! When I went in for the first time one of them helped me hook up my computer, smart board and document camera. I feel so good knowing it’s done and ready.

  • Jessica Balsley

    My plan was always to go back in July and spend a few long days at school getting things ready, and give myself the last few weeks in August to stay home and mostly relax (if that is possible), but this system seemed to work well for me.

  • Mrs.C

    I was actually in one of my two art rooms today trying to make sense of everything! Once all my stuff gets moved back in after the custodians finish cleaning the room i try to get up there as soon as possible so i can get it all done! I’m running a bit late in getting up there and getting everything done! Made some good progress today but will be going back tomorrow bright and early to finish up organizing and hanging all my visuals back up(had to stop at Staples for duct tape) that will be one school down and then on to the other! I did get all the kids stuff copied for their artist passports so they are ready for the first day of school! Once everyone gets going there will be no getting to the copy machine or the laminater! My desk is organized and ready,all my lesson plans for the first weeks are done! YEAH! There is NO WAY I could just walk into my room on the first teacher day and have it ready for the first day of school! Both my teacher days are filled with in-service and meetings so there is very little time to prep. I do know some colleagues that pretty much wait for that first day to start getting organized and then they are running around getting it all together! I would lose my mind! With having everything done ahead of time it makes the transition back to school sooo much less stressful! :)

  • Erica Stinziani

    I love those wood floors so beautiful!

  • Erica Stinziani

    Can’t even get into my school before the first day as the janitors are working on the floors in my wing still. So I don’t have a choice:)

  • kathleen

    I usually stay late into summer and come back early but budget cuts have killed the A/C so I can only handle a few mornings. I really miss the good old days when we got more teacher work days and they trusted us to be productive professionals without meetings.

  • Kati Walsh

    I like to spend the first week of August (after teaching summer school for six weeks) getting my physical classroom ready. And then working on my curric, seating charts etc with a glass of wine on my couch throughout the rest of August when I want to.

    This year, my principal made an uber mistake which had a domino effect and my room STILL isn’t ready for me to get into and organize! I can’t do it until this Tuesday, the day before Open House.

    I’ll need some more wine, please.

  • ElizT

    I’m so envious of all of you with real art
    “rooms.” I have a storage closet about 12′ x 10′. I teach
    at a private school and have about 110 students, Grades K-6. When I
    started (18 years ago), my storage area was the top shelf in the receptionist’s
    teeny office, about the size of my present storage room! As school
    employees came and went and remodeling projects happened, the art stuff was
    moved into a general supply closet, where I presently “reside.”
    There, my space increased to about a third of the closet. Every time we
    got a new principal or office manager, I made sure I creatively appropriated
    more space whenever I noticed a non art shelf remaining empty for too
    long. No one seemed to notice or care. Somehow, I eventually
    appropriated the entire closet when one office manager didn’t want her stuff in
    there anymore. When she left, no one ever remembered that once upon a
    time, other peoples’ stuff had been in that closet. And now, the students
    and teachers even refer to the closet as the “art room.”

    The closet is packed with art supplies and my
    traveling desk, which is an audio visual cart I acquired from the new
    Kindergarten teacher a couple years ago. I’ll be stocking it this week,
    ready for me to travel to 7 different classrooms for art hour. I spent
    two full weeks after school was out this past year, cleaning the “art
    room…not only because a mouse had been in there, but it was time to
    overhaul. Then, starting tomorrow, when the teachers are due back, while
    everyone else is enjoying arranging their huge space, I am content to putter,
    restock and inventory all the art stuff for easier lesson planning.
    Teachers depend on me also to keep the storeroom up to snuff, for some of their
    own art projects that they engage students in at other times. Before
    going back to school to be with the teachers, I usually spend lots of time
    locally shopping for art supplies. I’m very in to color games to use
    mostly with the youngest kids, so I’ve been spending the last couple weeks
    creating and painting the games, etc.