Tag Archives: school

When the arts are valued…

Ever wonder what it would look like if the visual arts were valued in your school? Take a look!


A Simple Reward System

Here’s another quick strategy I saw used with great effect recently… Do you know what that glowing purple object is on the table?

It’s a Bluetooth speaker!

The teacher has a playlist on her own phone and places the speaker, at a low volume, on tables that are showing that everyone is on task. The students really enjoyed having the reward of listening to music while they worked, even if the speaker had to move to another table after a few minutes. 

Thanks again to Bethany for sharing this idea!

What are you working on?

I ask this question frequently when I visit an art room, “What are you working on?” I even ask when I already know the answer.

Recently I went into two art rooms at the same school. The classes happened to be the same grade level and I was excited to see the two art teachers were collaborating. In this case, that meant I saw the same lesson happening in both classrooms.

I asked my question in both classes. I one room I got answers like these:

  • Just drawing
  • Just doing a contest (it was not a contest)
  • We are doing this (points to paper)
  • We are doing… (reads title of paper)
  • (shrugs)

In the other classroom the response to my question was an enthusiastic explanation of the project, and each person at the table wanted a turn to describe their ideas to me. 

Now, this was not a thorough study. I asked just a few students in each room, but the difference was astonishing! In the latter example, students were clearly more engaged and using higher order thinking skills. In the first, students barely knew what they were doing, let alone what they were learning. 


What can you do, as a teacher, to make it more likely your students will respond to, “what are you working on?” with enthusiasm, awareness, and evidence of thinking and learning?

Equity and a Healthy School Culture

Pedro Noguero shares three qualities of a healthy school culture that supports equity. 

Each of these start with a verb to which I believe you should add ALL of these subjects: the administration… the faculty… the school culture… the team… the teacher…

1. …Does not blame underrepresented students for low performance.

Do not accept talk by yourself or your colleagues that blames the students or takes the position that “these students can’t.”

2. …Pushes faculty to see teaching and learning connected.

Absorb that, then look back to number one. Don’t make me spell it out. 

3. …Has a coherent, data-based strategy for achieving goals related to diversity.

If we don’t collect meaningful assessment data we can’t do this. If we don’t analyze the data, we can’t do this. If we don’t make a plan to respond to what the data is telling us, we can’t do this. 

P.S., dear art teacher, I am talking to you. I am always talking to you. 


A great classroom management strategy shared by way of guest author, Jean-Marie. Thanks for passing this on! When visiting Miss Kromel, one of our outstanding new art teachers, Jean-Marie observed:

One table group was chosen to monitor the “Loud-O-Meter.” (Students at that table can move the Loud-O-Meter magnet up the scale as they see fit.)

loudometerWhen other kids see the noise level go up, they quiet down.  It is tied to earning the privilege of listening to music during art. It’s low tech and teaches the kids to manage their own behavior. Believe it or not it works!

Thanks Jean-Marie, and thanks Miss Kromel for sharing your great ideas with us!

Art Builds Community

It is no secret that art builds a sense of community. Odds are, a city near you has turned to the arts as an important part of a revitalization project for a neighborhood, or the city as a whole.

School Mural created by art teachers Maureen Murphy and Caley Ehardt in collaboration with their elementary students.
School Mural created by art teachers Maureen Murphy and Caley Ehardt in collaboration with their elementary students.

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Leadership Options

An art teacher asked me recently how she might pursue opportunities to grow and advance her career. There is, of course, nothing small about a career in the classroom, but some teachers want to do more, and frankly, I think education has a lot to gain by having more art teachers take on leadership roles. So what are some of the avenues an art teacher might consider?

The Light at the Top of the Stairs by Jean Barrett, art teacher.
The Light at the Top of the Stairs by Jean Barrett, art teacher.

Continue reading Leadership Options