Late Again? Coping With Tardy Teachers

Art Teacher Pet Peeve: Teachers are late dropping off and picking up their students from art class!

Nothing gets under an art teacher’s skin more!! You are in your classroom waiting, waiting, ready to start the art lesson. In fact, you are always there ready for the students.. The problem? The class is late again. So..Fast forward one hour. The class is cleaned up, students are in line, you’ve sung a little song… waiting…waiting.. the teacher is late picking up the students again. 5 minutes of your prep is wasted, or worse, the other class is waiting loud and obnoxious in the hallway wanting to get in.  Then, you have another classroom teacher annoyed their prep time is being wasted, and unfortunately, even though it’s not your fault, you feel bad….



No one tries to make our lives miserable by being late. Some people just loose track of time, get caught up in the hallway or with a parent on a phone call, however, it’s still a problem, especially for the frequent offenders.

If this is an issue at your school, the simple solutions below will no doubt help you get through the “Tardy Teacher” epidemic. Maybe you can start a revolution implementing these ideas next school year, or pilot a few this year.


Coping with Tardy Teachers


The snake walk is a strategy we developed school wide in efforts to protect EVERYONE’s time during specials and classroom teacher prep and PLC time (they have common planning by grade level while students are at specials).  Because our specials are back to back we have a slick strategy to get students from point A to point B.  The teacher who is dropping off their students, picks up and walks back the current class back to their room. We noticed that teachers are usually  more likely to be on time dropping off, but late to pick up. (imagine that!) so this works perfectly. Since we started this strategy, my classes have flowed much better, and I hardly have to wait anymore- It was like magic and I love it!

Walk Them Back

If no one ever shows up on time picking students up, why not just walk them back yourself? If you have 10 minutes between classes, you have two choices. Wait another 3 minutes hoping the teacher shows up, or use 1 minute to walk them back, and hit the restroom while you are at it. I prefer the latter.  This also will send the message that you won’t just wait around. When time is up, art time is over, and it’s more professional then just sending them unsupervised in the hallway.

Start the Lesson

If another class is waiting out in the hallway, and you are stuck with a class in your room because of late pickups, another trick is to have the existing class in line stand quietly, and escort your new class in. Get started with your new class and lesson. It will be awkward when the teacher finally comes to pick up her class, and sees you already starting with another class. It shows you have important things to be doing, and all kids deserve their allotted art time.

We are all professionals. We are all reasonable human beings, but part of being a professional is respecting other’s time within the busy school day.

You could just talk to the teacher, if one is always the culprit, too. Wouldn’t that be a little less “Middle School” – Hahaha!

Talk to me about Tardy Teachers…How do you cope?

(Graphic by Kevin Black- Mustang Daily)

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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