I have a love-hate relationship with one of my job responsibilities–hanging up artwork. On the one hand, I love the way my building looks when there is student artwork hanging on every wall. It generates such wonderful discussion among staff and students.
However, I must say that I am not a fan of how much time it takes to hang up so many masterpieces. With the amount of artwork produced each week in my elementary school, I have to sacrifice a lot of plan time to switch out the displays in the hallway. Giving up my plan period to display work is difficult. It seems like there are always more pressing tasks. So what is an art teacher to do?
This year I decided to tackle the dilemma head-on until I landed on a surprising solution. If you find yourself in the same situation, then see if the same idea might work for you.
The Secret? Outsourcing.
That’s right! High school students ended up being the perfect solution to my prep time problem. It all started when the high school teachers suggested that the other art teachers ask their students to help with art room-related tasks. A lot of high school students need volunteer hours, and hanging up artwork absolutely counts!
If you teach younger students, I highly recommend asking other teachers in your district if this is an option. If you don’t feel comfortable asking or already teach older students, don’t worry. You can use the process outlined below just as easily with parent volunteers or your own students.
5 Steps for Getting the Program Started
1. Reach Out
First, contact a nearby high school and see if one of the art teachers there can gather names and emails of interested students for you.
2. Create a Sign-up List
I suggest creating a free Sign-Up Genius account with the dates and times that you need volunteers. Then, send it out to all of your collected email addresses. Whenever a student signs up, you immediately get an email telling you a spot has been filled.
Let your secretaries, administrators, and staff know the plan so they aren’t surprised to see high school students working in the halls.
4. Thoroughly Prep Your Supplies
Make sure that you clearly lay out your supplies. Obviously, you will need the artwork that needs to be hung. A note about where in the building the artwork needs to go, what artwork needs to come down, and any other important information is helpful. You may even want to include a map. Having a tub or a rolling cart specifically for this purpose is a great way to stay organized.
5. Clarify Expectations
When your volunteers arrive, make sure they understand exactly what’s expected of them. You may want to consider having a printed sheet that explains how to hang up artwork in an interesting way or a sheet that clarifies what materials are on the cart and what they are used for.
Remember, this method can work with everyone from responsible middle school students to parent volunteers. The goal is to put more time back into your day. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself being able to complete more tasks during your now-available plan period while your hallways are simultaneously getting filled with art.
Do you have any time-saving tricks for displaying artwork in your building?
How do you utilize classroom volunteers?
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.