Although many students love art, some may still be shy about school in general, especially at the beginning of the year.
Below are four ways to make students feel more at home in the art room this school year.
1. Make a Welcome sign.
I hadn’t thought of this idea until a colleague mentioned it to me, but a welcome sign outside your door makes students and parents feel immediately at ease. It says, “I’m happy you’re here! Come on in!” As a bonus, making a welcome sign is a nice break from all the other tedious jobs we have to do before school starts. If you don’t want to create a handmade sign, utilize some of the fun fonts on your computer. Five minutes, and you’re done!
2. Create a space for student art.
We all display art in our hallways, but do you display art in the art room? I create a “Look What We Did!” space on one of my bulletin boards inside the room to display art that students do at home or in the extra time they have after finishing projects. Having their artwork proudly displayed in the room makes them feel invested in the space.
3. Use unexpected materials to create a colorful atmosphere.
A bright, thoughtful space will make students look forward to coming to the art room. Look around for inexpensive ways to spruce up your space. I’ve used leftover paper borders, paint chips, and cut-up laminated art-themed calendars to add special touches.
A leftover border created a fun edge on the top of the kiln room wall.
Paint Chips helped spruce up the speaker.
A cut-up, laminated calendar added a fun touch to the paper towel dispenser.
4. Go bilingual!
Many of us teach ESL students in our schools. Why not make them and their parents feel extra welcome by including their first languages in your room? The vast majority of my ESL students speak Spanish as their first language. So, I chose a bilingual carpet, and have made my signs in both English and Spanish. Seek out a language teacher in your district if you need help.
These strategies are a great first step in building relationships with your students, a key ingredient for a great school year!
How do you create a welcoming environment for your students?
Have you done DIY decorating in your classroom? What materials did you use?
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.