Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers: Getting to Know You

Article excerpt

The beginning of the school year is a whirl of new students--learning names, thinking about whether your planning is "tight" and, of course, the inevitable Sunday-night jitters before school actually starts. All of these concerns have never led to a relaxing and restful evening!

The following "Tried & True Tips" should help ease you into the new school year, and are especially suitable for middle-and high-school teachers,

TIP #1

WHAT'S IN A NAME? I have always felt it was important--and only fair--that we teachers learn the names of our students as soon as possible. After all, we expect them to learn our names.

Sometimes, learning names is a real challenge. Five or more classes, with 20-plus students in each class. Wow, that's well over 100 students! Daunting for sure, but there are ways to simplify the process.

Using pieces of masking tape, sequentially number each desk in your classroom. Also, have a seating chart ready for each period. I like to use a different color marker to write in the class name and period. That same color would then appear on both the class roster and seating chart for that particular class. Not only is this a terrific organizational aid for you, but also for substitutes or for administrators who may come in to observe you and your class.

As students arrive for class, have each of them pick a number out of an "art box." That number correlates with the number on their desk. If you are notified beforehand of students with vision or heating needs that would warrant them being closer to the front of the room, you can seat them accordingly. If you need to switch a few students to a different desk, it's okay--the kids will go with the flow.

As you welcome the students to your class, direct them to the desk they "picked" from the art box. This practice creates a positive mood for both your students and you. It also keeps you in the hall until the tardy bell rings, which principals and deans appreciate.

Once everyone is seated and you've introduced yourself, explain to them that you are going to take this perfect opportunity to learn their names and the correct pronunciation. Then, go around the room to each desk, meet the student, ask his or her name, and then put their name on the seating chart with its correct pronunciation, written phonetically.

I've had so many students watch me write their names phonetically and then tell me that I've misspelled their name. But, when I then say their name aloud from my notes and ask if it sounds right to them, inevitably, they look at me and smile.

As you know, Open House is an opportunity to meet parents, some for the first time. It's also a time for informing them of what your expectations are for the course and for their children. Learning to correctly pronounce student names benefits you greatly at this event. There's an extra bonus when you can do this, and it makes it clear to the parents that you've taken the time to learn their names. This shows mutual and honest respect, and we all appreciate that.

Hang in there! Generally after about 10 school days have passed, you'll know the students' names and will no longer need the phonetics.

TIP #2

GETTING TO KNOW YOU For several of my intermediate classes, such as Drawing, Advanced Drawing, Watercolor and Oils, I adopted a technique a colleague also used, and added a few of my own organizational tips.

At the beginning of each new semester, have students each fill out an index card (getting packages of cards in several different colors provides each class with its own color). On the card, the student should print: his or her name; other art classes they have taken; and their favorite movie/favorite group or type of music (anything along these lines would work). …