I share an art room with another art teacher.
There's the brunt of the story. No juicy details, no cat fights or name-calling...just sharing.
I do not wish to make anyone appear as a complainer or share frustrations. As I've been pondering, I felt the need to share ways to create an inspiring art space that could be shared between two artists, or two dominant type A personalities.
I would like to list some challenges I have come across and share with you what works best in my situation.
Challenge #1: Veteran Teacher vs. Novice. In my case, I am the novice. I've been in the district for 6 years, my co-worker for over 20 years. Knowledge and wisdom are wonderful tools, as well as mentorship possibilities. Respect the advice your co-worker gives. He or she may have some good stories to share.
Challenge #2: Materials. I learned from day one that materials that are ordered are ordered separately. We have saved on countless frustrations because we knew to keep our materials separate. We share very few materials, such as the drying rack, paint cups, and the cutting board, but almost everything else is our own. When we were both on carts, we had our own storage space separated, and it worked wonderfully. Now that we have a shared room, we have our own shelves and space in the room for our materials. This way, when one teacher walks out and the next teacher walks in, our materials are still there...especially the consumables. With a shared room now, we combined crayons, markers, and colored pencils, and drawing books since they're the most used items for projects. Everything else...still separate. We like it that way.
(My old cart! It's now turned into the resource cart: art books, coloring sheets, crayons, colored pencils, games)
Challenge #3: Communication. When it came time to set up the room, I was extremely passive. I thought, "Hey, she's been wanting a room for the past few years, she's got it, I'll let her figure the floor plan!" Then, when it was arranged, I found it incredibly difficult to navigate. Instead of holding it in, I felt the right thing to do was to talk with my co-worker about the set-up and what would work best in both of our situations. We came to an agreement, and now we're good. If you've ever seen the end of the movie "Legally Blonde 2," you'll know what I'm talking about. Speak up and share your voice, but don't be a meanie about it.
(With being on a cart for years, we are slowly building up out visuals for the room. It takes time!)
Challenge #4: Display Space. Throughout the school, everyone battles for display space. My co-worker and I have specific spaces, but we have had conflicts with the usage of that space. This year, we decided to alternate displays each month. This gives us a chance to showcase student work from both art teachers. My challenge is that I wished I could show more of my student's work. Who doesn't want to show off their awesome, amazing masterpieces? Still, as role models for our students, we show how sharing is positive thing to do!
(Look familiar? Yes, it's a Keith Haring inspired project I found on Pinterest. Thank you to the original creator, my 5th graders were proud!)
(My co-worker's display space)
(Always make sure you double check your space before passing it over to the next person!)
In a way, I feel that writing this has helped me to understand that any frustrations I may have had, it's nothing compared to the big picture: We are there for the kids. We love our jobs, and we love art.