A Proven Classroom Management System to Try In Your Art Room

Can you believe that many of us graduated without ever having to take a classroom management course?

Maybe you’ve found yourself in a spot where you are completely winging it. The good news is that you probably aren’t alone. The even better news is that there might be a classroom management solution for you to try out this year.

Two years ago, I was really struggling with consistency in my art room. My management plan was based on the latest and greatest idea I had found on Pinterest. Nothing really seemed to be working for me. It wasn’t until I was talking about classroom management with some other art teachers that I came across the idea of a point system. Last year, I decided to step out with my fellow specialists and give this system a shot. After a year of using the point system under my belt, I have been highly encouraged with the results I’ve seen. If you are interested in revamping your classroom management system then first read how the point system works and follow that up with some of the pointers below.

How to Set-up a Point System


1. Choose Expectations

The first thing you need to decide on is which expectations are the most important for your classroom. For example, I really want clean-up and line-up to be done in an organized fashion. It was more important to me than everyone being silent during clean-up (choose your battles wisely!). The number of expectations you end up with will decide how many points the students can earn.

Photo 1

2. Keep it Simple and Concise

Don’t overwhelm your students or yourself with an unrealistic number of expectations. It would be a headache to keep track of too many points. My students can only earn four points each class.

3. Make a Chart

Consider making a chart for you to log the number of points each class earns every week. I drew out a grid and laminated it. The class names and points are written with a vis-à-vis marker so they can be erased when necessary.

4. Make a Notepad

After typing out a template on Word, make several copies for yourself. My principal had my template made into a notepad for me, but even just having hard copies on hand would work.


5. Keep it Convenient

Place your chart and notepad nearby your art room door. You don’t want to have to search for these items when it is the end of class. After the class is lined up, I can simply pull out my notepad to review the expectations with my students. Once we have determined our points for the day I can easily write them on the chart which is taped to my door.

Photo 3

6. Set a Goal

Have the students work towards a goal. My students know that if we earn 50 points in a semester, then we get a celebration in the art room. This could look like a fun trivia/review game done on Plickers or even a day when they get to explore the medium of their choice. If it is something they want, then they will work hard to get the points every class.

7. Be Consistent

The title says it all. If you aren’t consistent with reviewing the expectation questions at the end of class, or you keep giving grace when you should be holding the students accountable, then the point system won’t work for you. Consistency lets the students know that you are in charge. It doesn’t make you a mean teacher, it makes you a better teacher.

Don’t be discouraged if your other specialist friends don’t get on board with the point system. It can still work for you even if you are the only specialist following it. In the last year, I have seen my classes transform from the use of the point system. It has also changed me because I now have such high expectations for what classroom management can really look like. If you’re drowning in an unruly class or perhaps just wanting to find a management system that creates more consistency, then give the point system a chance. Also, make sure to check out AOE’s online course Managing the Art Room for an in-depth look into setting up a management plan that works for you.

What does your management plan look like?

Have you ever used a point system? Did it work for you?


Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.


  • Vicky Siegel

    This works great for our specials teachers! Then if a class consistently earns 3’s instead of 4’s in art, music, p.e., and library, then the classroom teacher knows and we can all reinforce a positive behavior to work on (usually talking and not staying busy!) Some kids can just not whisper and work at the same time! :)

  • Mr. Post

    Silence is over-rated. I only expect quiet when I am teaching during the first 10-12 minutes. After that, I let them talk. If a kid talks while I am teaching I just stop talking. It’s amazing how simply stopping gets the attention of the class. If that doesn’t work (99.9% of the time it does), I have a little bench that I will ask the kid who can’t stop talking to go sit on while I finish teaching and demonstrating.

    For cleanup, each table has a color. I have a jar with 8 fat popsicle sticks in it, each painted with a color that corresponds to a table. I draw out one popsicle stick and if the table that it matches is cleaned up perfectly, they can choose a Jolly Rancher out of the bowl. If any tiny little thing is amiss, they lose and I draw another stick giving a different table the chance to win. I am ruthless when it comes to making sure the tables that win are perfectly clean and ready for the next class. If a class does a poor job at clean-up, I won’t draw sticks. There’s no points to keep track of weekly. The kids know the goal – to win a Jolly Rancher for each kid at their table by making it as clean as possible. If a kid ever complains that their table neeeeeeever wins, I tell them that this is the reason I don’t play the lottery – it’s a game of chance and in a game of chance, you don’t always win. Their odds of winning the stick game are 1 in 8. Then we discuss that to win Powerball, your odds of having the winning ticket are 1 in 176 million… (yeah, I teach the kids about gambling in art – LOL!) This game is also good for talking about superstitions and talismans, as kids take to crossing their fingers after they clean in hopes that it influences which stick is drawn.

    • Oh my goodness I love that clean-up routine. What an amazing motivator. I may have to try that sometime.

      I agree. Silence is totally overrated unless I’m teaching. And since I go into my demo as soon as they walk in that is the only time I ask for silence. They rarely get to talk throughout the day, so I like letting them have the opportunity.

    • Paint on my Pants

      Mr. Post! I really like this idea and since I have colored tables as well, I will give it a go. Thanks for sharing your awesome idea!

  • Carmela

    Can u share what yr chart looks like? Thx

    • The chart is in the very last picture in the post above. I can’t give you a close-up because I want to keep the teacher’s names private, but it is simply a graph chart with teacher’s last name and grade level on the left and at the top it show what week we are on (wk.1,wk.2,wk.3,etc) Then I simply mark the points they receive in the correct column.

  • Audrey Jane Eastin

    My elementary students get a “+” for coming in and sitting down quietly- “ready for art”; they can get another one for lining up to leave quietly- “ready to go back to the classroom”. When they get 10 plusses we have a colorsheet/freedraw day. Older students get free seating and I often play music. This gives them a break and ME a break as well. I can sit at different tables and draw and chat with my students. The colorsheets i provide are optical illusions and art history, which I explain to them briefly. This works well for me, students often come in shushing each other!

  • Andrea Verbeek

    I teach K-8. Do you think the older kids would also respond?
    Thanks, Andrea

  • Andrea Verbeek

    I teach K-8. Do you think the older kids would also respond?
    Thanks, Andrea

    • Hey Andrea, I’ve only tested this out on k-5 so it’s hard for me to say whether it’ll work up to 8th grade. My guess is the older students might not care as much if they get points or not. But if you think your students might be okay with it if say give it a whirl!! Especially if they have something awesome to work towards!!

      • Andrea Verbeek

        Thanks Jennifer, I’m going to try it with my lower grades first and then give it a whirl with the jr high. I’ve got my chart and points pad all made up for tomorrow. Thanks so much. This is great!

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