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Naturally what works for me will not work for everyone but I agree it helps
to have different ideas from different people. I was sorta reading between
the lines on your communications and I got the feeling you weren't having
alot of success getting people to respond. Are you getting just a few
responses? I'd LOVE to hear what others are saying...Could you direct a
few interesting ones my way? If you can...thank you!
In return, I will give you some more things that work for me in my
classroom. If you are interested, I could send you samples of my policy
sheets I give out the first day which have to go home and have to be signed
by each student's parent.
At the bottom of each policy is a place where each student and parent signs
and can rip off and bring back to me. I have a code at bottom also "5 4
3 2 1" and if they bring it back to me the first day I circle the "5" and
they receive 5 extra credit points and so on. I keep ALL these little
ripped sheets for a semester and a half so if anyone says they don't agree
with my policy or say it's too strict later down the road...I can pull out
their sheet! I've used this backup several times in the past 7 years.
They can't argue with something they signed and they won't admit they
signed something without reading it! By the way, we are required by my
school to send out policy sheets. I run them off in different colors for
each class so I can find them immediately for absent students.
First day...I already have made a seating chart for each class (separating
boys and girls primarily or any "yoyos" I already know coming in) by the
first day so I can quickly establish organized authority. Sometimes I get
"grumbles" from the students but I think, at the same time, they respect my
control. I introduce myself and "introduce" my classroom. I walk around
the room showing them where everything is and what different papers are
called, etc. All of this is done with EVERY EYE on me. If someone looks
away, down, talks..I stop immediately. I do not talk if there is ANY
distraction. If I do this the first two days, it sets the tone for the
entire semester and the first few days they're still a little timid so I
can get away with it!
Unexcused tardies...if students aren't in the door with both feet, they are
tardy and they receive 3 pts. off their total semester grade for each one.
If they aren't in their seats when I quickly scan my seating chart, they
can also lose 3 pts. I have "extra credit" boxes I'll tell you about later
where they can "work off" these minus pts. if they feel I have been unfair
or they couldn't get to my class for a good reason. These pts. don't count
off if they have a note, of course. They can work off a total of 5 pts. at
the most for each semester.
Giving out materials...what works best for me...I have large tables with
3-4 students and stools at each. Beginning of class always is a small talk
by me and what needs to be accomplished that day...also materials to be
used. I give them one minute to discuss with each other who is going to
get what for each other. They are really good at organizing themselves,
even when I've taught young ones in summer school. "Getter" also has to
put back at end of class. Only when everyone is organized do I let them
get supplies. I spread items around so there's no backup in one area of
room. Paper to be used usually is on my desk. That usually stops kids from
grabbing paper and half goes on the floor. Another way is to hold the
paper in my hands so that they have to get it from me one at a time. No
one has pushed me down yet!!! I also like this way because I can talk
briefly with each student and we get "closer". Any other way and I usually
have to go over and pick up and sort this disarrayed pile of half-clean
Deadlines...I set deadlines for each class separately by watching each
class and how fast they work. When I have about 3 or four finished, I
usually set a deadline for 1 to 2 days later. I DON'T allow work to go home
(I've yet gotten back work from home without edges crumpled, etc.). I also
don't stay after school as I have a life too. But I'm always 1 hour early
before school starts and they can work on anything not finished...also
during lunch if they let me know ahead of time. Since I don't let work go
home, I give them one week leeway to be absolutely finished after my
"deadline". Absentees usually finish up too. I'm pretty fair about
deadlines and I will usually accept anything until the grading period is up
but I don't tell them that!
Homework....none! Don't these kids have enough to do already?
Sketchbooks?.....never worked for me...too much nagging by me to keep them
updated and filled.
Individual help...I use to have a regular desk in my room and I would work
with individual students there. Problem was...I couldn't see everyone in
class at a glance. I took one of the cabinets which rolled and was about
40/45" high and took out the shelves so I could put my feet in that area
like a desk. I also can keep safety things like x-acto knives,etc. hidden
but close at hand. I bought myself a tall drafting chair so now I can
survey the classroom with an excellent view of everyone. Individual
students stand at side of my desk and everything works. I've also gotten
use to assessing things upside-down quickly (the old "right brain"
Bruising egos....I'm pretty open about students' works as long as they
reach the goals we've talked about and I put on the board (that's a
definite). After the goals are set, I encourage experimenting with the
unusual. I also put up samples always of finished student work (if I don't
have samples, I make one and tell them it's mine). They LOVE it when I do
the same project...sometimes I even get better quality work as it's a
silent goal to reach...and they never copy the sample work. That was my
first fear when I started that. During most of the projects, I collect work
at end of period once or twice and the next day when they arrive, I call
all of them over to one student's desk and we go through all of them
quickly. They can immediately see what others are doing and get a handle
on what they need to work on. A short discussion precedes this about no
comments except positive ones and no one is to aknowledge their work. All
work at this point is unsigned. I briefly comment on each one and find
something positive. Another thing I do is my $500 dollar tip for
teachers....I cover an entire board on the wall with colored paper. You
can buy a can of 3M Adhesive Spray at an office supply store for about $9.
I spray the entire board with 3 layers of adhesive spray and you can use
the board to mount pictures of works-in-progress and immediately pull it
off when finished with no need for little circles of tape on the back.
It's a quick method. I let the students also put up their work briefly to
see it at a distance during the work process. I use 18x24" sprayed colored
paper on the faces of all my cabinets to put up samples, posting grading
sheets for each class, important info from the main office, art contest
information, just about everything!!.....ANYWAY, the more they see their
work in relationship to samples and other classmates' works, the less I
need to deal with bruising egos. They generally make the connection
themselves. Sometimes I even stop them in the middle of class and we all
get up and walk around the room viewing others' works. The more they can
compare, the better the artwork.
ADHD kids....this is usually their best class of the day. I allow kids to
get up and get supplies during class so these kids can "move" around more
I'm not saying I don't have problems with these kids sometimes, but seating
them with quiet kids or in the corner of the classroom helps.
Special Day Kids...the state mandates an aide for these kids during
"regular" classes but I've had problems there also. What the state
mandates and what you really get are sometimes not the same. I've had
special day kids without aides so I become an "appendage" to the principal
and counselor and stand in their face until they give me a student aide to
sit with the child and help him/her during my class. It doesn't work to
have a classmate help because they didn't volunteer for the duty and they
get behind on their work. Someone from outside of the class will work
Portfolios...each student has their own "portfolio" to keep work in.
Different sizes and shapes for different classes. I make the portfolios
ahead of time using 18x24 paper folded in half and folded at the bottom up
3 1/3" and stapled to hold the artwork in place. My student aide stapes
for me but I fold it. For more advanced classes I use bristol paper which
is stronger and larger to hold larger finished pieces. For another class I
use large manila folders to hold work but they aren't as easy to get into
for grading purposes. All work remains in folder until I need to grade it
and returned, graded works remain in it also.
Cleanup...last 5 minutes of period usually covers everything. If they
cleanup fast, they can sit and talk with each other which they love to do
and they can sit anywhere.
Passes..If they ask me for a bathroom pass, I generally say no. If they
really have to go, they'll ask me a second time. Second time get a yes.
Hanging on my wall is a piece of wood with my name on it and they use that.
It's high enough so I can keep an eye on it from anywhere in the classroom
and know I have everyone together...that they have returned.
Paints....After ordering the small plastic bottles of paint from our
warehouse, I finally tried the large plastic gallon paints with dispensers
you can order from art catalogs like NASCO. They have the best prices I've
found. Anyway, I put them on a newpaper-covered table and I can have ALL
my classes paint without making ANY mess with the paint. You can get 1/2
or full squirt from each which is just the right amount (1/2 is the best)
for a period's worth of painting. I used to use plastic round palletes but
they never got fully washed by students so I resorted to paper plates and
each student can re-use them over and over. My students keep them in their
own "cubby" overnight. You can make great colorwheels with these by just
sliding colors around and mixing...same for value mixing and keep for a
resource during actual painting. The big plastic bottles seem to seal
themselves also so paint doesn't dry out inside. You might have to unplug
them but it only takes a second with a sharp tool.
Paintbrushes...5 years ago I made a big investment of brushes for painting.
I bought a class and a half set of #2 brushes with LONG handles. I
worried about the long handles getting in the way of students at a shared
table but what I really found was the students "feel" the long handles make
the brushes more valuable (I make a "big deal" about how expensive they
are...don't be afraid to embellish!), a "real" artist tool, and they take
much better care of them than any other brushes I have. I have taught over
5000 students and teachers using this set of brushes (!)...in fact, I still
haven't had to use the half set yet!
I had also used individual plastic cups for painting water, but found one
large gallon container at a table worked much better with less spillage.
Extra Credit...I have two boxes in my room marked as such. In it I have
suggestions for projects to do which need no further explaination from me
and are short and sweet. To get credit, they must use the goals set in
each and make a finished composition in any medium available. "Credit"
meaning a point added to their final semester grade up to 5 total
compositions. I have a sample up on a wall showing one done correctly and
one done incorrectly so they know what's acceptable. After using some of my
own ideas, I found a man (Jay Conley) who has done exactly the same thing
and sells his packet of ideas for $29.95. It consist of things like
shading, texture, drawing spaceships, cars, cartoons, haunted houses,
animals, trees, perspective...tons of things. I make about 8-9 copies of
several I like and put into the extra credit boxes. Kids can pull out
anything that meets their fancy AFTER they finish main project. The packet
ADVENTURES IN DRAWING
145 So. 9th Avenue
Brighton, CO 80601
Parent communication...Our parent community is extremely confrontational
due to a rather weak administration in that area so I don't do alot of
parent involvement unless I'm having a REAL problem. I do get some support
but I also get the attitude many times that art is not an important
academic subject to worry about. I guess it goes with the territory.
Anyway, I feel better about making "problem" calls if I also make the same
number of "positive" calls...how "wonderful" Johnny is doing in my class!!!
Afterwards I can sit back and not feel so negative about everything if I
had a bad call to make.
This is long-winded but hope it can help you. If you want samples of my
policy sheets, send me your address.
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Road
Danville, California 94526