Thursday, January 10, 2013

Continuing to Balance the Scales: More Pros to Your Cons with Traveling and Teaching Art

Before I get into my extended list, I wanted to apologize for not posting since before Christmas.  I had found out that I am expecting and even looking at a computer screen was making me nauseated.  Even the smell of paint in the classroom!

When I created my first list of pros and cons, my intent was to share that every negative thought you may have actually has a positive outlook in any situation.  At times, it's good to vent, but too much venting can turn off your co-workers and colleagues.  This year, I started coming across more irritations that I needed to face, and decide on how the positive outcome should be.

I wanted to start by showing my original list of cons with the pros.  The list was recently published in the Stepping Stones section of Arts & Activities magazine.

Negative: I’m on a cart, stuck in a closet, with no sense of space. 
Positive:  Yes, you may not have a room, and your storage closet houses your desk, but look at it this way!  A room takes much longer to set-up and take-down, or even clean up at the end of the day.

Negative:  I don’t feel like I belong with the other teachers.  They seem to cling together when talking about standard tests and classroom activities.
Positive:  It takes time to build lasting friendships with co-workers and other staff, and sometimes it may not happen the way you want!  Your job is to convince your fellow co-workers that you are worthwhile.  Talk about their students’ personalities and how it reflects in their artwork.  I've been working with my staff for 6 years and over friendships continue to grow!

Negative: I keep tripping over my cart, and items keep falling off the cart! Arg!!!!
Positive: In the morning, try and leave some of the items you’re using with certain classes within their rooms…or make a trip back to your storage room (if you have allotted travelling time between classes).  That will save on the items falling off or breaking, but I can’t help you with the cart tripping…that’s just a convenient annoyance we must deal with!

Negative: The materials are too difficult to disperse in the classrooms!  The teacher just leaves no space for me!!!
Positive:  As said before:  Communication is key.  Let the homeroom teacher know you need the space, or you’ll place your items on top of their stuff. 

Negative:  No Storage for projects!!!
Positive:  True…but have you talked with the homeroom teachers about allowing some small space in their rooms to be used?  For example, the tops of closets/cabinets, or even by the window sill?  If not, talk with the administrator and ask for space in the school for certain projects that can be used temporarily.

Negative: I feel like I’m invading their room.
Positive:  True, but think of it from the homeroom teacher’s perspective…they feel like they’re invading your class as well.  This is when you work as a team.

Negative: I’m struggling with communication, I feel like I’m the last to know everything.
Positive:  Travelling from school to school?  It happens, but you can fix the important items, such as meeting dates and other important information.  Communicate with the administrators about keeping you in mind for important facts, and don’t be afraid to let them know when they’ve forgotten something.

Negative:  My car is an art storage closet!
Positive:  That can be fixed.   When ordering supplies from year to year, build up a collection of materials that can fit in your storage space, so you no longer have to carry it from school to school.

Negative:  It’s such a challenge to communicate with parents.
Positive:  I can’t lie, it is, but that doesn’t mean you stop calling them when you need to make that call.  Just find the time on another date (unless it’s urgent) and let the parent know your situation.

Negative: Disciplinary actions are hard to keep track!
Positive:  That’s another communication issue.  Discuss options with the homeroom teacher, but more importantly…call the parent!

Negative:  I always forget something at another school!!!!!
Positive:  I can’t help you there!  I do it too!  Just make sure you get to your school with enough time to pick the item up if you need to.

Over time, I did not see many of these negatives as much as an issue because I always believed there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  But, not everything is always perfect.  My next list is the challenges I've been coming across lately, and advice I want to follow to have a positive outcome.

Negative: I have a new principal and everything is messing up.  I had a schedule down, but it's like re-learning a routine again.
Positive: Don't look at this as a negative, but as a learning experience on both ends.  If you have events or meetings coming up annually, be sure to communicate this with your new administrator.  Be flexible. and allow the learning curve for both of you.

Negative: I share a space with another teacher, and every time I walk into the school, I find a note telling me I left something out, unlocked, or things are missing.
Positive: Your co-worker may be leaving you notes, but don't look at it as wanted to get her back by leaving notes for him/her. We all make mistakes.  Work out a checklist to follow at the end of the days you leave so you don't repeat mistakes.  If he/she is still having issues, address your concern about their outlook on the situation.

Negative: I fundraised for a display space, which finally came in!!!  But it was set up when I wasn't there, and they made the decision without me to move it to the back of the school.
Positive: At least you have a display space.  Think about it that way.  Display...Space.

Negative: I feel so far behind with technology.  I'm so limited on the cart, and I can't seem to check out the laptops when I need them. 
Positive: The technology standards are there for a reason, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't be left out.  Find out what's available in your school, and use what you can to educate your students.  Laptops checkout, projector carts, don't give up!  It may be an extra cart, but it's worth the amazement in students' eyes as you show them that virtual gallery on a museum website!

Negative: Our district says apple technology is not compatible with our server.  With all the recent presentations and amazing technology advances with iPads, I feel far behind and lower than other art teachers who do have this available for their students.
Positive: Technology standards do not say you need an iPad to educate your students.  Laptops are just as cool since you can share art-based websites and virtual galleries!  Look past the jealousy factor and work with what you have.  If you feel iPads are that important, try looking into grants available to bring iPads into your classroom.  There are apps available that do not require internet use, so server issues would not be a problem if you acquire iPads for your room.

If you probably couldn't tell, these were my recent issues.  I dislike having to complain about anything, and I always want to try and overcome any challenge I can.  Even if they are my recent issues, some of you may be dealing with similar situations in your own buildings.  Just remember not to give up and look for that light at the end of the tunnel.  It worked for me, and I love my schools!


  1. Hi Heidi! I am so happy and relieved to read your blog. I have been a travelling art teacher for 5 years now. I also love what I do and feel so lucky to be teaching art, especially in a well funded school, large budget and very good weekly timetable, but I have many days of frustration and feeling limited and disorganised. I am on a constant quest for creative and engaging art lessons that are manageable going room to room ( I carry everything, no cart). Thank you for your blog!