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Sometimes the ‘non-essentials’ are actually the most important things we do. Let me explain. Sure, we must submit grades, show up for class, and keep our students safe. These are basic expectations.
The other extreme involves going overboard: staying up all night grading artwork, overthinking every new lesson, and proclaiming to the world “I’m a teacher, so I can’t have a life” on a daily basis.
There is a fine line between meeting expectations and burning out, but once you find this sweet spot, you can begin to find your stride in your career.
Here are 10 ‘non-essential’ ideas that become essential when you want to be taken seriously as a respected and professional art teacher.
And no, they don’t involve coming into school every weekend!
Attend at least one school board meeting or PTO meeting.
No, you don’t need to attend every single one, but showing up to at least one transforms you from “the art teacher” to someone on a first-name basis with parents and community members.
Change out the hallway artwork at least once a month. It won’t cramp your style too badly, but without switching things up, you look lazy and the hallways (and students) will notice. Set up a volunteer cart to make the process even easier.
Stand outside your classroom and greet students and families at least once a week. It’s a great way to build relationships.
Write something in your school newsletter or blog. You don’t need to write weekly novels, but a nod to what is happening in the art department on a regular basis will turn heads.
Share your precious supplies. I know, I know, the requests get annoying and your budget is nonexistent. However, you are supporting other teachers who want to incorporate art, plus you are making friends.
Eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge. It’s easy to work through your lunch, but, a few times a week, take some time to visit with your colleagues and “be a person” for 30 minutes.
Share assessment data. If your students found particular success with a project, find a way to share the evidence of this success (however that looks) with a wider audience. Don’t keep it to yourself!
Come in early and stay late. Do this once per week to get caught up. On the other days leave at your contracted time and get on with your life. Remember, you have one outside of teaching!
Talk to your principal. Don’t be a squeaky wheel, but do come with positive ideas, concrete proposals, and solutions to problems. Be passionate in your interactions.
Some days we can only complete the basics. Other days we make ourselves crazy going above and beyond. Try some of these ideas to find a balance on most days that will propel you personally and professionally without burning you out.