Art room systems make me overjoyed because they save valuable time. And they’re a great way to streamline big and small tasks. Over the course of my career, I’ve developed strategies to cut down on wasted time and reduce teacher burnout. One of my favorite art room systems pertains to end of year routines. Another is end of the year supply ordering. My goal is to leave on the last day of school on time and prepped for the Fall.
Art Room Systems
When I tell other teachers it takes 45 minutes to set up my art room in the Fall, I get the same reaction: “Huh? How is that possible?”
I get it. You doubt me! I would, too. But it’s true.
I’m all about making life easier and sharing my ideas. These tips are designed specifically for art teachers. But classroom teachers can adapt and apply some of these concepts for their own use, too. Because let’s be honest, what teacher really wants to spend their Summer doing these tasks when they can be with their family or friends enjoying their vacation?
10 Things to Prep Before Summer Break
1) Bulletin Boards: I contemplate ideas for my hallway bulletin board right after Spring break. I use a secret Pinterest board to gather ideas. If I need to draw and cut images or letters, I begin immediately. There are some art projects that require less of me than others. It’s during those lessons that I will draw the pieces. If I have early finishers, I have them assist with the cutting. They love helping so why not put them to work?
During the last week of school, I re-paper the board. Then I quickly put up all the parts and cover it with large plastic bags. The kids (and adults) walk past my board the last week of school wondering what could possibly be underneath. It’s a mystery until the Fall!
2) Lesson Plans: Lesson planning is the last thing I want to do at the end of the year. But it’s honestly one of the first things I’m thinking about. The end of the school year is the best time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Because let’s be honest, after two months off, who in their right mind is being realistic with beginning of the year expectations? I get all pie-in-the-sky with ideas. And sometimes I find myself questioning if that ineffective lesson was really that bad when I know it was.
Planning in advance removes the opportunity to be overly idealistic. Even if writing lesson plans is too much, jotting down a map of ideas, concepts, and projects for the Fall would be a great use of time. Once you know some of the projects you’ll be doing, you can prep for them in advance. Cut paper for specific projects. Make cardboard looms. Prep sketchbooks. Do those repetitive tasks now and save your energy later.
3) Supply Bins: Fill ’em up and clean ’em out! During the last week of school, I limit the materials I’m using to the simple things: one bin each of crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Then I pick students to help clear out all the other bins. They find dead and cap-less markers, empty glue sticks, and plastic bags with holes in them. At the same time, I’m re-stocking any bins with any extra materials I currently have on hand. Doing this helps with my supply order. This is a great way to teach students how to respect the art materials.
4) Worksheets & Handouts: Every year there are a handful of items I repeatedly make copies of including art critique sheets, seating chart templates, and reward coupons and certificates. These are cornerstones in my art classroom. I use some of the same resources in many grade levels I teach throughout the school year. So it only makes sense to get them copied when less people are jamming the photocopier.
5) Paper Storage: I don’t know about you, but I have a much easier time figuring out how much paper I need to place an order for if I fill up the paper storage shelf. My shelf allows for both 9″ x 12″ and 12″ x 18″ paper. So I cut whatever remaining paper I have and fill it. Then I wrap that sucker in plastic so it doesn’t get dusty. This is by the easiest of the art room systems that requires little time or preparation.
6) Fix-er-Uppers: You know that pile of broken brush handles that need to be glued to the brush heads you have sitting around collecting dust? Or the broken paint or glue pump you’ve ignored for awhile because you’ve not been using it and, heck, it’s one more thing to fix? You’ll appreciate it being in good working use in the Fall.
7) Clean: Art rooms are the messiest. Run a finger anywhere in the room and you’re bound to sport a half inch of chalk/clay dust and debris. And while many art teachers have the attitude that this is commonplace and accepted, I’m honestly not one of them. I make an effort all year long to run a wet rag over ledges and take a broom to the crevices in my classroom. Poor air quality is harmful for students (and adults) with asthma and other health ailments. A pre-Summer break deep clean is the right way to go because let’s be real here, the janitors are not going to dig for the dust. Then in the Fall, take 10 minutes at the end of every week to do one simple choir to maintain it.
8) Plastic. All. The. Things: Any shelves, supply carts and bins, and bulletin boards are covered in plastic to eliminate dust and dirt from getting into them. After all, I’ve spent all that time cleaning them. Why would I want them to get dusty while I’m not there?
9) Organize Your Desk: We care more about maintaining student art projects than we do our own things, including our desk. Everything gets throw inside on a whim. The end of the year is a great time to organize and stock up on things you need before everyone wants that same box of pencils and paperclips at back to school time.
10) Wash or Re-Stock Rags, Sponges, and Cleaning Supplies: I can’t be the only one who has purchased these things over the Summer but forgotten to bring them the first day back to school! Better to do early and remember than late and forget.
First Day Back to School
By the end of the last day, my room is pretty much wrapped in plastic. Over the Summer break, the janitors move everything so they can polish the floors. This also creates a whirlwind of dust, ruining all the cleaning I’ve done, hence the plastic.
In the Fall, I pull off the plastic and pile it up to reuse as table covers when I do messy projects. I move all the furniture back into place and plug in my computer. I pull out anything I tucked away in cabinets like the pencil and eraser containers, project bins, cleaning materials, etc. and put them in place. And in no time at all, my art room is ready. I can concentrate on mapping out the first marking period.
And that’s how I put together my classroom so quickly after Summer break. Art room systems like this enable me to utilize my time more effectively so I can be efficient in completing the necessary end-of-year tasks.
What art room systems do you have in place to make the end of the year easier? I’d love to hear. Drop a comment below. Follow my Art Room Organization board on Pinterest for more tips and tricks. And pin the image below to revisit this post: