Professional Practice

How Art Teachers Make Time to Create Art

a page from one of my traveling sketchbooks

It can be very difficult for art teachers to find time to create personal artwork. When someone asks me what kind of art I make, my response is, “I make a lot of really cool middle school art projects.” It makes me sad to think about how much I enjoy making art, but how I never make much time to do it. So, when I attended a session at the 2013 NAEA Convention about an opportunity for art teachers to engage in professional development and make time to create art, I was all ears.

The session I attended was titled, “On Board for the Journey: Sharing the Passion for Visual Journals.” The presenters were Christina Hamer, Karly Lagore, and Harold Pearse, three art educators from Edmonton Public Schools in Canada. Their presentation discussed how artists and educators integrated the use of visual journals into their classrooms and into their professional development.

I loved hearing about their process which worked like this:

1. Each teacher had his or her own sketchbook.

2. Each teacher came up with a theme for the sketchbook. The theme could be personal or professional, related to an art concept, art material, art technique, artist or teaching philosophy.

3. The teachers passed the sketchbooks round robin style every 2 weeks. So, every two weeks each teacher got a new sketchbook with a new theme for inspiration! Teachers could “pass” anytime they felt they didn’t have anything to create.

Their traveling journal project was called ARTiculate and evolved based on the need and desire for art educators to collaborate and communicate, since their professional development time together was so limited. To me, ARTiculate seemed like a genius idea and an excellent opportunity to help art educators find time to make art. I proposed the idea to the middle school art teachers in my district and they jumped on board. I created a rotating schedule, art teachers supplied sketchbooks with themes of their choosing and we began creating art.

I have to admit, I was a little leery of how much time the process was going to take, especially since I thought there was no way I could find any extra time to create my own art. What I realized was not only did I enjoy creating, but my students enjoyed watching me. Now, I periodically work on the journal each week throughout various classes. Sometimes I sit at a table and work a little, then move to another table and repeat. Some days I don’t create, and some journals I’m more connected to.

The art teachers in my district and I feel that this has been a fun and very successful project. It’s giving us a reason to find time to collaborate and create, something we’ve all missed greatly.


What about you, do you make time to create?

Could you see the art teachers in your district participating in a traveling journal project like ARTiculate?


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.


Cassidy Reinken

Cassidy Reinken, an art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys helping students solve problems and reach their potential.

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