Classroom Management

15 Things to Do When Parents Pass You By at Conferences

empty classroom

Sometimes no matter how hard you lobby for parents to come see you at conferences, they just…don’t. You can put up reminders and have all the advocacy resources in the world set to go, but sometimes your room or table still sits empty.

This happened to me at conferences last week when only a few people stopped by the gymnasium to talk to me. My counterparts in middle and high school, on the other hand, each had a steady stream of parents all evening long.

Although I’d rather talk to parents about their children’s work in the art room, I have to admit, the extra time to get things done didn’t go unused. If you find yourself in the same situation, try one of the ideas below to pass the time (and cross some things off your to-do list at the same time!).

15 Things To Do When Parents Pass You By


1. Collaborate with other art teachers.
Even if you can only reach each other by email, it is the perfect opportunity to share ideas and lessons with one another.

2. Add art-related documentaries to your Netflix queue.
Spend some time curating your next movie night with films to enhance your teaching practice. Many of the films listed in this article can still be viewed on Netflix.

3. Create new lessons.
Remember those 17 art lessons you pinned back in August? Now that you finally have the time, why not make some of them? It will refresh you and make your students super excited!

lesson samples

4. Clean and organize your room.
Here’s a job that is never complete! If you can clean out, re-purpose supplies, and organize even one cabinet you will feel accomplished.

5. Catch up on grading.
You may have a stack of artwork sitting on your desk that needs some attention. Taking time to grade now it might mean one less late afternoon.

6. Do a live demo.
Are you stuck somewhere other than your room? Mesmerize parents and students by doing a live demonstration! Showcase a technique you are currently doing in the art room or experiment with something a bit more advanced.

7. Review the latest AOE articles.
Have you signed up for AOE’s daily email? Liked us on Facebook? Followed us on Instagram? Make sure you do to stay caught up.

8. Work on your supply order.
I have an online shopping cart filled with supplies just waiting to be purchased.

9. Create an Emoji.
Get creative in Photoshop or download a free app like this one to make some fun emojis. AOE’s writer Abby Schukei has recently made some of the AOE team. Don’t judge.


10. Sign-up for an AOE class.
Did you know that AOE offers graduate level courses that are handcrafted just for art teachers? AOE even offers studio classes! Why not sign up to take one?

11. Plan.
Remember your plan book that somehow got out of sorts from the 5 snow days, 2 assemblies, and 1 sick day you had? Why not take the time to organize it again?

plan book

12. Update your resume and teaching documents.
Has it been over a year since you’ve updated your resume? Better take the time while you have it to make some small adjustments. After all, you never know when your dream job might become available. Get prepared while you have the time!

13. Plan out your next conference visit.
Do you want to attend your next State or National Art Conference? Are you already attending? Plan your itinerary and packing list right now. You could even make a proposal to present!

14. Search out new iPad apps for the art room.
Make sure to share your favorites in the comments. Some of mine are VSCO, Sketches, and Plickers.

15. Write a post for AOE.
That’s what I’m doing! Think you’ve got what it takes to work with us? It never hurts to apply!

Do you typically have lots of downtime during conferences or is your schedule filled up?

What would you add to our list?

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.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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