Three Simple Tips to Organizing & Managing the Art Classroom

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The term “classroom management” generally evokes the notion of discipline, punishment for bad behavior in particular. In fact, classroom management is not about punishment per se; rather, it is about setting up your classroom as a well-functioning system that prevents bad behavior from occurring in the first place.

While there are many classroom management techniques that educators of all disciplines can draw upon, art educators have some unique considerations to make due to several factors:

  1. art classrooms have safety considerations that may not be present in a traditional classroom;

  2. art classrooms tend to be more informal than “regular” classrooms; and

  3. art classrooms provide students with opportunities to use unfamiliar materials and equipment, and therefore requires specialized instruction and supervision.

In my experience, the following three tips have been essential in keeping my art room running smoothly.

Materials and Supplies

Keep your supplies and materials very well organized!

Your students should be able to find the supplies and materials they need for their projects quickly and easily. Keep your supplies and materials in clearly labeled closets, shelves, bins, and buckets, and make sure they can be found in the same spot every day. You might also consider developing a system for passing out materials quickly that does not require all students to get up at once to get what they need. An example of this might be keeping a variety of crayons or markers in several large buckets or bins, and assigning one or two students to pass out the buckets to each table or group.

Post Project Instructions on Your Walls

Art classroom walls are a great place to hang student artwork and artists’ reproductions – and they are a great place to hang “how-to” posters or series of posters describing the steps in a project or a particular artist’s technique. Students are often unproductive when they don’t know what to do or what is expected of them, and “how-to” posters are something for them to refer to when you are in another part of the room helping their classmates.

Safety Rules

Make sure students understand and follow safety rules and clean-up procedures!

General safety rules should be posted at the front of the classroom, where they can be easily seen. If the students are very young, verbally remind them of the safety rules, as well as any safety rules pertaining to the supplies and materials they are using, and have them repeat them back to you orally. In addition, remind your students of the cleanup procedures, and demonstrate the proper way to dispose of materials and put materials in their proper place when they are finished using them, if you feel this is necessary. It is not always safe to assume students know how to clean up with a minimum of fuss and noise.

Do you have any further tips to add that have been helpful for you?