In 2007, I began my teaching career as a travelling art teacher in an elementary K-8 school district in the south suburbs of Chicago. Like any first year teacher, I was excited about developing a curriculum, meeting new faces, and sharing new imaginative project ideas with my students. I am now in my 5th year of teaching, and I learned many tricks of balancing time, materials, storage, and other random mishaps with travelling and being on a cart. I have been blessed with having a room at my home-base school, which I share with two music teachers who travel by cart. Two days out of the week, I travel to other schools, where I am on the cart entering classrooms and using cafeteria space.
Unfortunately, as much as we all would like to have a nice, spacious room with plenty of storage, the “specials” teachers are the first to lose their space. Some reasons have been growing numbers of attendance, or needs for other services (such as English-Language and Reading programs). I have been attempting to research the effects of classroom management and creativity on being on a cart vs. having a classroom. In my findings, I had found this quote:
“In the U.S., every school district has its own schedule, but generally, art teachers have their students less than one hour per week. A significant number of art teachers do not have an art room with a sink, but have to take a cart from room to room. At least 40% of the elementary school children in the U.S. do not have a specialist art teacher. In many cases, art is taught by the classroom art teacher or a volunteer that often lacks teaching preparation in art education (Bartel, 2008).”
Since 2008, that percentage has grown due to economic cuts, and many “specials” teachers who once had rooms are now on carts. In many cases, the arts were cut out of the curriculum because of budget shortages. In these times, we not only have to be the advocate for the arts in our schools, but we must be there for the students to foster their creativity and imagination. I will be focusing on ways to help balance travelling, classroom, and cart situations. I would like to invite anyone who is in similar situations to share their stories and insight as well throughout the month within the blog. We are here to support each other, and I hope I can help with some tips to help you begin your school year.