The 5 Crappiest Things About Being an Art Teacher

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Teaching art is a calling. We get to do work we love and share our passion for creating with others. It’s a fun job…except when it’s not. As art teachers, we have to deal with a lot of stuff that impacts our job satisfaction and the quality of instruction we’re able to deliver. We always find a way to make it work, but there is only so much an art teacher can take!

Today we’re talking about crap art teachers deal with. After reading through the five situations below, take the quiz to find out your “Crap-o-Meter” score. Don’t worry though- if you find yourself in one (or more) of the crappy situations below, click the links in each section for some tried and true ways to deal!

5 Examples of Crap Art Teachers Deal With

1. Being the Second Supply Closet

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Teachers always ask us for paper, paint, and anything else they need. What they don’t realize is these are our instructional materials, and we need them to run our programs! The worst is when the interruption comes during class.

If you have to deal…

Consider creating a Teacher Supply Closet for classroom teachers to use when they need to borrow things. It’s inevitable this will happen and at least teachers will know where to look when it does. Plus, you’ll make some friends at the same time.

2. Getting Called “Planning Time”

It’s infuriating to hear phrases like, “Oh, I’m late to pick up my class because I had a meeting during my planning time.” Everyone’s time is important and valuable, including ours. Of course, classroom teachers have to plan, but that is NOT the reason art is offered. We have an important role in schools, and it should be acknowledged.

If you have to deal…

If you’re feeling under-appreciated by other staff members in your school, here is a list of 50 simple ideas to start changing people’s perceptions. And, here’s everything we’ve ever published on the topic of advocacy relating to staff and colleagues.

3. Teaching Art on a Cart

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Sure, other teachers are asked to teach on carts, but their supplies are stack-able books, not messy paint, piles of papers, and oodles of brushes! Let’s face it: losing a classroom is extra hard for art teachers because of all the supplies we have to prep, use, clean, and care for. Sure, it’s doable, but the impact to our job description is big enough that we shouldn’t be the first thought when classroom space is running low!

If you have to deal…

If you’re left with no other options, here are five great resources for teaching art on a cart.

4. Attending “Staff Development” Meetings

It hits you after spending a perfectly good hour listening to literacy training that has nothing to do with your job description. You’re invisible. Why is it again we’re told to differentiate content for kids but have to attend staff development that totally leaves us out? Sure, we understand most of the teachers need what they’re giving, but a better solution can be found than just expecting us to sit through things meant for others every time!

If you have to deal…

Sometimes all you can do is laugh to keep from feeling down. But, why not propose an alternative? Ask to meet with other art teachers. Ask to attend a local museum. Ask to take a course that’s actually relevant to you. Advocating for yourself is easier than you think.

5. Working with an Invisible Budget

Art costs money, but some schools think they can just ignore this fact and give us minuscule budgets. This doesn’t work so well when we teach hundreds of children with supplies that are mainly consumable! In fact, some of us have to beg, borrow, and steal to get the basics like paper and crayons.

If you have to deal…

Getting the art room you want with the budget you have can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Seek out available fundraisers, transform common art room leftovers, and try this trick to get things for free.

It’s no secret, teaching art is a job that is as challenging as it is rewarding. We deal with a lot, which often boils down to our specific needs being misunderstood. So, as we continue to be amazing problem solvers who constantly make do with less than the best, we need to take a minute and give ourselves a pat on the back. We’re pretty awesome!

How much crap do YOU have to deal with? Take the test below to find out!

Art Teacher Crap-o-Meter Quiz

Download your own copy to share if you’d like!

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What’s your “Crap-o-Meter” score? Share it in the comments below!

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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.


Melissa Purtee

Melissa Purtee is a high school art educator and a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about supporting diversity, student choice, and facilitating authentic expression.

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