My Traveling Story

Mission

This blog is not just for art teachers who push a cart.  There are many who travel from one school to the next, set up multiple classrooms, share rooms, or teach from a temporary space.  Even if you are one of the lucky ones with one school and your very own classroom, you may find moments where you will have to adapt to a current environment while teaching. Your current set-up may change from one year to the next unexpectedly.  I created this blog to help with all situations.  We are not alone in our struggle to balance our workloads.

My Story

I am now in my 11th year of teaching.  For the past 3 years, I have been teaching at one school in one solo classroom.   I am enjoying my home at Brodnicki Elementary!   I hope to still provide guidance for those who teach in alternate situations.



When this blog was first started, I traveled to three different schools in my district.

My previous home base school, Wilkins Elementary, I had a classroom that I shared with two music teachers (who travel by cart during the day).  The school has now lost the art room and is now on a cart.



My second school, Lyle Elementary, I spent my first few years on a cart, then I shared a classroom with another art teacher and the band director.



My third school was Player Primary Center.  I was also on a cart, but taught out of the gym/cafeteria while other activities were taking place (OT, Early Childhood, etc.).  Player has now changed over to the Early Childhood center for our district.



Why Start a Blog?

When I began as a traveling art teacher, I was lost.  I did have a mentor in the district, but she was stationary at one school with a classroom.  Having a mentor did help, but I could not find any research about how teaching from a cart affected student learning, when it was quite obvious that there was with teaching from both classroom and cart.  After being asked to write about the challenges of teaching from a cart for the National Art Education Association's "Monthly Mentor" on their website art educators.org, I wanted to continue writing about ways I managed traveling, teaching from a cart, sharing spaces, and having a classroom.



I am always open to new ideas, and I love to share what ideas I have.  I believe in sharing projects openly with other educators to grow our curriculum and to stay on top of new trends in the arts.


9 comments:

  1. Delighted to find your blog today. I'm excited to be starting a new job this year and I will be working from a cart and sharing an art room for the first time. Looking forward to your posts and insights and thanks for the research link!

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    1. Glad I could help! Thank you for reading!

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    2. Heidi, I was wondering if you have ever seen an art cart on the market that has an attached drying rack? I'm teaching from a cart for the first time this year and the drying rack situation is a huge challenge! Thanks!

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  2. I teach art to pre K-6. I recently lost my classroom and am now mobile. I would love more info on creating this change. Last week I was a paper mache painted mess, left many things behind in classrooms, was tired and worn thin. The hardest part was breaking down, cleaning up, then setting up again in 5 classes a day. I also desperatly need input for my Kindergarten/preschool day. On days with older grades, the students helped a lot. On Kinder day, one of my classes is back to back with another without a break. I had a hard time managing 27 Kinders and cleaning paint brushes, packing up, ect. Any advice? I am the only teacher in the room. I noticed you have a large cart. I am interested in your set up. The school gave me 2 rolling bins. I also am having a hard time finding space to dry art in the classroom. Another concern is students are at different paces. Before I would have them go to their portfolios to work on back work. I do not have all my supplies with me now, or my free art time center. What do you have students do that finish early? Hope to hear from you soon. My e-mail is noelledoan@hotmail.com

    Noelle

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    1. Barbie, I hear ya. I will be the first to say that mobile situations burn people out fast. I find that the burn out happens not only from constant re-invention of the wheel, but I steadily feeling like we are unsupported. The key for motivation is finding what help you can get.

      With the younger grades, here are a few tips. Does your school have a newsletter that goes home to parents? Many kindergartener parents are more than willing to come in to help if you ask. If you're in an area where both parents/guardians work (like mine), adult help may be lacking, but you can try and see when the older grades have their TSPE. If it coincides with your kinder classes, see if you can get a few older students to help you. Also, I use buckets for dirty water and 2 gallon jugs for pouring clean water in the younger grades. I wash brushes in the bucket, then move on to the next class. 1/2 way through, I give the brushes a more thorough rinse.

      When it comes to leaving stuff behind, I did it all the time. It just happens. The best part is when you leave stuff at another school when traveling. I can't even get mad about it anymore it happens so much. You know what helped? Pinterest. If I forget any paperwork, the printouts on a board.

      As for a cart, I had a coppernicus, but I discovered they don't make my cart anymore, so I will not give mine up. I have it in my shared room as my resource cart now. When I used it as my cart, I had one bin for "free time," such as books, drawing books, and games. The other bins were for materials.

      Students will always be at different paces, but setting a deadline will help to quicken the slow workers. The ones that finish far ahead, give them more ways to enhance their projects. If they complain they don't want to, you can find other things for those students to do. I had students that hated my resources, but loved to help sort, clean, and pass out to other classes for me.

      Every situation takes time to adapt. I was on a maternity leave the year and I'm still feeling like I'm not on track yet! My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you are communicating with teachers and administrators about your needs. Work with them, but try to have them understand your side too. That's how team building happens.

      I do have more thorough suggestions in my first posts dating from 2012. Feel free to browse my past articles for tips and tricks I used on a cart!

      Good Luck!!!!

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  3. This is my first year of teaching art from a cart at 2 different schools grades K4 thru 8th. I am glad I am not the only art teacher who became exhausted after the 1st month. What I am discovering is how to breathe, relax and maintain flexibility. This upcoming week I am going to put into practice, the art of “set up” and “clean up” so that we can increase the work time to 25 minutes within a 40 min art time per class. I also need to realize that if a project takes 3 weeks, this really means 1 solid hour of work time was done on the project so I need to not feel bad when art projects take longer. After all, I only see each of my 804 chidden once a week for 40 min. Currently my set up and clean up eat up 25 min of time due to not being organized and taking time to practice with the children what efficient, responsible, safe set up and clean up time look like.

    So this weeks art lesson will be “The Art and Mastery of Set Up and Clean Up”. I am going to get a few buckets for hand washing. I have spray bottles with water only to wash desk tops and I am getting rags from the engineer to use for wiping down tables and drying hands. I am also working with the Parent Coordinators from each school to send out a call for art helpers: to hang artwork, stay behind in rooms to finish clean up, dye cuttings, monitoring pencil sharpening, helping children pick out art games from the art game box, etc. All of this I am learning, takes time and I must be patient with myself.

    Everyday I wake up feeling grateful to have a job that allows me to share my creative passion with so many children, and although this presents many challenges, the rewards far exceed the challenges. One of my schools does not have elevators so I have a cart on each floor.

    At times I have left supplies on the main cart on the 2nd floor. I have learned to keep that cart outside my storage room office door so I can send a helper up to the cart to get the supplies.

    I am also beginning to connect with many art teachers in the school district for support and ideas. And of course, my laptop introduces me to the answers of questions I type in and leads me to art sites such as this one. I have also become friends with the school Librarian for books I use in my K4 and K5 classes.

    It’s important to be flexible, patient and grateful to provide creativity to children, even from a cart.

    This may have seemed novel to discuss and propose amongst administration but in all reality, it is not a kind position to place an art or music teacher in to…yet we endure.

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  4. Hi Heidi,
    It's Patty here from Deep Space Sparkle. I'd love to chat with you about something but can't find you email address. Can you email me? patty.palmer@deepspacesparkle.com
    Thanks!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this. I am starting my art on a cart career in 3 weeks and I have been a bit nervous. However i have many new ideas now from your experience and suggestions. And some of my questions about cleanup strategies were answered. Does anyone have suggestions on where to order good supplies for low cost? Websites? In store? I will take all the help i can get! Thank you all:) please email me at edechman@gmail.com

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  6. Hi, Your Teaching Art on a Cart Easy link is broken. I'd love to be able to read that. First year, doing art on a cart. Thanks!

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