Instructional Strategies

Four Ways to Steal Like an Art Teacher

Steal Like an Art Teacher

I was talking with two awesome art teachers at the Art Educators of Iowa annual conference when I noticed that one of them was putting together a collage of mini monochromatic self-portraits. I mentioned that I too use that lesson to start out my year. She told me that she latched onto the idea from my article here on AOE, and I told her that I grabbed it from Pinterest and adjusted it to meet my own objectives and class practices. The three of us then had an awesome conversation about “borrowing” the best ideas from other teachers and artists and making those ideas our own. We agreed that there are four key things you have to do to take a pin from Pinterest (which is often little more than a thumbnail of someone’s finished work) and turn it into a meaningful art room experience.

1. Change something…or better yet, change five things!

Make the experience your own by tying a technique to a new subject matter. Take a topic you always love exploring and try a new medium. Adjust a lesson for a new grade or developmental level.

2.  Identify the objectives.

We often start out with, “Oh WOW! That looks so cool, I want to do that with my students!” Use that enthusiasm to drive your planning. Outline objectives and expectations so that you can make that really cool finished product part of a rich, meaningful learning experience.

3. Read this book.

Steal Like and Artist:10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon is a nice short little read (with illustrations!) about creativity and looking at everything as fodder for remixing and re-imagining.


4. Give credit and share.

In order for great ideas to spread, art teachers must be brave enough to share the incredible work they do with their students every day. Don’t be afraid to post your stuff in the hallway, on a website, or around your community. Add citations and “adapted from..” liberally. Share and be shared!

Where are your favorite places to “steal” ideas from?

How do you go from brilliant idea to finished student products?

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.


Sarah Dougherty

Sarah Dougherty, a visual arts curriculum coordinator, is a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator. She loves working with diverse populations to bring art into students’ homes, communities, and everyday lives.

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