Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prepping for Multiple Lessons

I remember a week before my first teaching job, the principal handed me my art schedule. 8:30-9:30 5th Grade, 9:30-10:30 6th grade, 10:45-11:45 2nd grade...need I go on? It was a bit of a shocker to say the least. I mean, where was the prep time? How do I shoo out one class and usher the next one in without utter pandemonium? I realized quickly that it couldn't be done and for the sake of my own enjoyment, let alone the sanity of the classroom teacher, I made a few changes.
I know what you're thinking...What? Changes? How?
The principal was most receptive (as was the classroom teacher) to my idea of shaving 5 minutes off the 5th grade class and the 6th grade class giving me 10 minutes between the two.
This resolved almost everything, except prepping for 3 back-to-back classes .


This is what I do:

Get your artwork together.
This is one of more difficult morning schedules: 6th grade 9:30-10:30, 1st grade 10:35-11:10, 5th grade 11:150-12:15.
As you can see, there is very little prep time and all three classes are different grades, which means 3 different lessons. So, needless to say, I need to be organized. I come in at 8:30 and begin prepping the lessons.
  • First I set out last weeks work. If it's a new lesson, the process is still the same.
  • I place the stacks of unfinished artwork on a little side table next to my white board. I put them in order because I often get confused! It helps me to write my daily schedule in the corner of the whiteboard for easy reference.
  • For this week, I have the following lessons: #1 6th grade Russian Architecture Line Drawings, #2 2nd grade Collage Scarecrows, #3 5th grade Matisse-Inspired Portraits.
  • I set out the 6th grade supplies on the classroom tables: paper, chalk pastels, scissors and glue.
  • Done, now onto first grade...

  • On a table near my sink, I lay out all the supplies I'll need for my 2nd lesson. This includes the samples for the whiteboard (which I keep in a manila envelope) paper/template tray, scissors and glue and an extra palette of watercolors for the little one who may have missed last week or needs to finish. An easy peek through the stack of unfinished work gives you a sense of how many kids need to finish step one. In this case, I had four kids, so I removed their art from the pile and set it on top. This way, I'll have them all sit together and only one palette of paint is needed.
  • Take note of the white plastic trays I have. They're great to hold any kind of supplies . Switch out supplies as needed. Very easy to whip onto a table, too.

  • Then, I begin to prep my third lesson: Matisse Portraits for 5th grade. I mix the paints, fill the water containers and flip through the unfinished work to see where everyone is at.
After a class session ends, I quickly switch out supplies. If I am running short on time (clean-up took longer than normal), I'll ask a responsible child to help. Usually class room teachers, who are required to come into the room with me because I'm not a credential teacher, are too busy managing seat placements to help.

When your schedule isn't ideal...
I'm less daunted now by packed schedules, although in order to manage it, I need sufficient time either between classes or a chink of time before classes begin. This is not always the case.
Last year I had an almost impossible schedule from an art teachers POV.

This is what one day looked like:
8:30-9:15 (4th grade), 9:30-10:15 (4th grade), 10:45-11:30 (4th grade), 11:30-12:15 (3rd grade), 1-1:45(3rd grade), 2-2:45 (3rd grade).

Doesn't look too bad until you get to the transition from 4th grade to 3rd grade. See it? No time at all. I panicked big time. Impossible, I said.
What made this difficult was that I couldn't push the class at either end due to lunch and recess schedules. What made it bearable was the 30 minute break between 10:15-10:45. Ahh, my island oasis in the flurry of the storm. That's when I did my transition prep.
I also adjusted my expectations. These 3rd grade kids just weren't going to be able to accomplish what my other 3rd graders have done in the past. What took 2 lessons before, now took 3. So be it. They enjoyed the class, experienced many art techniques and were very pleased with what they accomplished.

Hope this helps...keep asking me questions. It might take a while until I formulate an answer via post, but I'm alsways striving for better ways to streamline classes.
Patty

27 comments:

Char said...

Welcome to my world... back to back classes, K-5 in one day, multitude of supplies strewn about... you have no choice, but to be organized! I find that sorting the supplies into pop/soda boxes helps me keep things straight. Good luck!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

This is a great post and I wish I could have read it before I started teaching art...I learned more in this post than I did in my whole art classroom management class at college. :) (The professor had never even taught art to elementary aged students.)

Great post and your students are very fortunate to have you as a teacher.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Janice Skivington said...

Wow. that is a great post. and just what I needed to read this week. I am overwhelmed by what I have taken on, grades K-9 at a private school on just Tuesdays and Thursdays. Your blog, and others like it have rescued me and helped so much.
Question; where do you get those white trays?
are they something that I can find from the recycling bin?

Katie said...

OH patty---I have a HORRENDOUS schedule..7 classes in a day, completely back to back...and different grades....

8:25-9:10 Prep
9:10-9:55 4th some days
10:00-10:45 3rd some days
10:50-11:35 4th or 3rd
11:35-Travel to another school
Lunch from 11:45-12:15
12:15-1:00 2nd grade
1:00-1:45 Kindergarten
1:50-2:35 1st Grade/or 2nd
2:35-3:20 1st Grade

CRAZY isnt it?? I literally dont get a second to breathe. I have other classes help me prep for classes and set up...I simply do NOT have the time to prepare, especially at the 2nd building!

teebo said...

Patty you are sooo great for taking the time to share your information. Thank you!

anne said...

I've been teching art k-5 for 30 years....yikes, but I still love it! Found your site fabulous.....love your ideas

Becca :) said...

I have at least six 50 minute classes a day with 5 min between each and one planning time a day. Yes transition is hard. Hence the idea I mentioned to you on another post.
I keep my supplies organized and set them up on a supply table at the front of the room. I either have kids do a receiving line pickup after a demo if each student needs one of everything. Or I use my Art Helpers. 2 helpers to every table and they change monthly. I say what helper #1 needs to pick up and what helper #2 needs to pick up, and helpers put away what they got out. Each table is a different color and each table has a folder (seating charts are wonderful). dry work is put into this folder at the end of class and turned into me by the helper and then given back at their next class the same way.
Of course I have to prep at the beginning of the day or at planning for supplies to be ready at the supply table.
Because of this system I can actually be standing at the door waiting on the next class and even get the whole 5 minute break!

Tisha Smith said...

Phew....thanks for this post! I appreciate it so much b/c it helps knowing I'm not alone:) I've told you before, but I'll tell you again, "Your blog is awesome."

Patty P said...

Oh my...and I thought I had it tough! Katie: you are AMAZING!!! I don't know how you could possibly manage this schedule???? Utterly baffling.
To everyone else; glad this post helped, but having read these fabulous commnets, it seems as though we have lots of creative scheduling/prepping plans out there.

Cheers for us!

Beth said...

Wonderful information. I am a first year art teacher and struggling to figure all this out. When classes leave I am EXHAUSTED but I need to do all the prep work I can so it will flow smoothly when kids come back. Thanks for sharing how you do it. My schedule was impossible when I started (1st, 5th, 3rd, etc . . .5 minutes between, no grade levels all together) but I proposed a change to put all my grade levels together and that has really helped!

Anonymous said...

Wow, great info. to be honest, I am a little jealous though. My schedule runs classes right on top of eachother. example: 9:00-10:00 2nd grade, 10:00-11:00 4th grade etc...
I end up with one class lined up in my room waiting to be picked up and the next class waiting in the hall to come in. I wish my principal was as receptive as yours.

You ideas and organizing tips should make life a lot easier. THANKS

Andrea :) said...

You are an amazing art teacher with such a gift!!! Wow! I am on maternity leav and after looking at your website, now I am really missing teaching. Thank you for sharing your wonderful artwork.

Gena said...

I am interested as well in where you get the white trays. Thanks.
Gena

Patty P said...

Hi all,
I'm still reeling with the schedules that you all have...anyways...white trays. They were given to our science teacher by a parent who works in a hospital. Apparently they are used for surgical prep. I found them in the recycling bin and knew that I could put them to great use. If you don't have these, which of course you don't, then use a cardboard box or an aluminum foil pan (Costco has packs of 20).

Jenny said...

Thanks for the tips Patti... and looking at all the comments I dont feel so alone anymore. I teach in South Africa at a private school with 16 kids per class, but I do grades 1 to 7 and have them twice a week also with no break inbetween. Exhausting to say the least. I think we should start a support group!!!! I have a question - what are the best paintbrushes to use? I have been using cheaper bristle brushes but they have not worn well and dont give that great a result. And what sizes do you use? I am a first year teacher and this year has been a real learning curve for me. Should one invest in a good set of brushes that may last more than a year?
Thanks for such an awesome blog. You are a lifesaver! Love Jenny
PS I won your watercolour lessons and have had such great results!

Char said...

Wow is all I can say. We used to have great schedules at our school, but since they switched to PLC and want the grade levels to have common preps, my schedule has gotten worse. I love all the tips, advice, and lessons plans I have found on mnay art teacher blogs. Thanks again!

Patty P said...

Hi Jenny,
Invest in some average brushes. I spent about $125 on some class packs of brushes 5 years ago and I'm still using them. Look at the class packs in the art catalogues that are under my link section. You will probably need to spend considerable more in South Africa...just a guess!
Also, check out my list of art supplies under my art organization heading. I think it might help!
Nice hearing from you!

Ms.AutumnLane said...

Hi Patty,

Thanks so much your tips again! I have a similar schedule like yours and it's been kinda nuts for being a first year teacher. Your blog is very helpful. I look forward each week to see what neat ideas you have.

Margaret said...

HI Patty, I concur, your schedule, and, it seems, the rest of the teachers schedules, are daunting!! I have a similar situation, 6 classes a day, back to back, 2 total planning hours a week, plus carpool duty! But I love teaching! I went to work this year after being home with my kids for 10 years. The transition from stay at home mom to a "mom" of over 300 kids was unreal. I found your blog as I was prepping lessons for the start of the year. You are truly a blessing!! I have loved all that I have learned from you and really treasure your advice. One question I have for you, when you have a moment, is : what do you use as a pacing guide? The former art teacher at my school was stopping by to say Hi and said she was surprised that I was using tempura so early in the year. I replied that I must be too new to know !! But it got me thinking - do you have a natural progression that you follow for each grade to get you through the year?
Once again, thank you for all your very sage and savvy advice!! Best wishes to you!

Patty P said...

Thanks for the comments Margaret! I too, was a stay-at-home-mom for 10 years before becoming an art teacher so you and I have similar pasts!
As for a pacing guide; I have one but I don't think my answer would address your underlying question, which I think is, how confident are you? I think your former art teacher might have been a bit timid ...just a guess...but I can't imagine why you would wait to bring out the paints. It's ART class after all!
You should read my posts under the tab "Art Organizations" and look for the posts regarding lessons to start off the year. In there, you will see why I chose some lessons over others.
You decide what lessons inspire you, the art teacher, and your enthusiasm will shine through. That's what kids respond too...not the lesson, but YOU.
Good luck!

Margaret said...

Thanks Patty - Your encouragement is so helpful. I just hung a project that my 5th graders did today (a tempura color mixing project on jungles, based on Rousseaus work). My principal was walking by and adored them!!! It was great to get feedback from my colleagues. Call it confidence, or call it being too new to know better, but I love the work the kids did. Thanks again for your great feedback, ideas, and willingness to share!!! I'll be reading your ideas about art organization tonight!

Mrs.Walton said...

I hear ya! All I have to say is it takes time to "figure it all out".... My classroom organization keeps my classroom moving. My rules are simple and easy, and I give my kids the responsibility of getting their things handled. I keep on each table (of mostly 4 kids per table x5 and 1 table of 8), a basket which houses 1 box of 64 crayons, one plastic pencil box with pencil colors in it, and 2 bottles of glue. That is there EVERYDAY, no matter what grade level, no matter the project. The other supplies (scissors, glue spreaders, rulers, etc.) I keep in an old card catalog. After explaining the lesson, one kid from each table goes and gets whatever they need for the lesson if it isn't already in the basket. I don't overcomplicate it, I let them pick who is going to pick it up and put it away.... Saves me time from having to set everything up and clean it all up! I only prep for painting days by making sure my paint baskets are ready for each table!

featherplume said...

I have seven classes in one day, each a different grade level...with zero time in between. One class ends at the same time the next one begins. It's really a challenge. I'm going to beg my principal to put five minutes between for next year.

Patty Palmer said...

If your Principal doesn't agree,put the 5 minutes there yourself. Hold off one class and have them line outside the door until your classroom is ready.
The preparation benefits everyone, especially the children. It's so much better being able to address the class with everything in order rather than scrambling...which I'm not saying you do...but I would be if I had no prep time!
Maybe the Principal doesn't understand the challenge?
Good luck!

MsFit said...

I taught art for one year, had 900+ students, no time between classes, saw 6 grades a day-- all mixed up: 5th grade, then 2nd, then 4th, then K; you get the picture. The classroom teachers would leave their classes early, lined up at the door, and LEAVE so they were my responsibility, and they would pick up the classes late (they wanted every last second of their off period) so I always juggled the class coming/going/no prep time. Although my kids did great work, the experience for me was horrible. And no, my principal wasn't receptive to my team's requests (my team included the drama teacher, the technology teacher, etc. We faced similar scheduling problems, but I think mine was the messiest because of paint and such.) That ran me off. Now, five years later, I'm going to try again-- but my new school doesn't have so many students and I'll get to see them a little more often than every seventh day. I'm not sure exactly how, but I know I am going to do things "smarter" this time!

Red Hen (dette) said...

I had 40 min and 45min rotations! With only two sinks in a store room for cleaning up and washing hands, and very little space in the room itself as it is also used for other classes when not used as an art room.I actually get the kids organised too giving them badges to wear which tell them and me what kind of jobs they need to do in order to set up and pack up. If you have the wave badge you get water and wash brushes, if you have the paint bade you are in charge of collecting matirials, a scissors and paint brush badge means you collect the tools for the lesson and chack them and pop them away at the end. Newspaper badges measn you collect newspaper to cover the desk and put wet artworks in the drying rack at the end of the lesson. This had resulted in much speedier lesson transitions and a much less stressed art teacher. If kids do their own job for their table things get done in record time especially if you have a bit of a competition to see how quickly each class can do it, and properly.

Red Hen (dette) said...

I had 40 min and 45min rotations! With only two sinks in a store room for cleaning up and washing hands, and very little space in the room itself as it is also used for other classes when not used as an art room.I actually get the kids organised too giving them badges to wear which tell them and me what kind of jobs they need to do in order to set up and pack up. If you have the wave badge you get water and wash brushes, if you have the paint bade you are in charge of collecting matirials, a scissors and paint brush badge means you collect the tools for the lesson and chack them and pop them away at the end. Newspaper badges measn you collect newspaper to cover the desk and put wet artworks in the drying rack at the end of the lesson. This had resulted in much speedier lesson transitions and a much less stressed art teacher. If kids do their own job for their table things get done in record time especially if you have a bit of a competition to see how quickly each class can do it, and properly.

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