Physical Space

3 Classroom Management Tips for Teaching Art on a Cart

name tents

When I first started teaching art from a cart, I found one of my biggest challenges was effective classroom management. When you are teaching in a different space each hour of the day, it can seem nearly impossible to create and maintain a system that works. Although it is certainly difficult, I am here to share with you that it is possible!

Here are three tips to help you manage your classes when teaching from a cart.

1. Use name tents to get to know student names.

When teaching from a cart, you can never be sure what you will experience when you enter a classroom. Will the space be set up the same way as last week? Will students be in the same seats? Nothing can be assumed. This can make getting to know student names a challenge.

name tents

Using simple name tents can help you to get to know your students’ names, even if their seats have moved since last class. These are easy to make and store. Have students fold a paper in half, write their name on it, and put it on their desk so you can easily see it. These can also double as small storage folders for artwork. Have student helpers pass them out at the beginning of each class, and collect them at the end. This is so simple, but it can make a world of difference when learning names and building relationships with your students!

2. Use the classroom management system already in place in the classroom.

One obstacle I faced when teaching from a cart was how to deal with the variety of different classroom cultures I encountered each day. Each teacher has their own style and sets up their space and management systems to fit that style. I quickly realized using my own system for classroom management was sometimes counter-productive. I had to teach students my system, which could be very different from what they were used to. When I did use my own system, students would often try to correct me. They would tell me what was “supposed” to happen according to their classroom teacher’s system. I sometimes felt I was trying to swim upstream, and confusing students in the process.

I learned sometimes it was easier and more effective to use the system already in place. If the teacher uses a card system, use the cards. If they use tickets for good behavior, ask him or her for some and pass them out to students. Whatever system students are used to, use it. Yes, this is can be more work and more confusing for the art teacher. You may have to keep track of many different systems. Yet, I found it was usually more effective and less confusing for students.

3. If you use your own system, make sure it’s simple to put in place and maintain.

When I had to implement my own classroom management system, I tried to keep it simple. With all the challenges that come with teaching on a cart, the last thing you want is to choose a system that is too much work to maintain. I chose to use a point system with each class. I added up points at the end of each nine weeks and rewarded the classes with the most points. The rewards varied depending on the school culture and my schedule. Regardless of the system, it’s important to make sure the one you choose is simple and easy to maintain.

class dojo

Class Dojo is a great option for classroom management on a cart. There is a free app you can access right on your phone or tablet. It is easy to put in place and maintain. Many students are familiar with it because it is popular among classroom teachers as well. It is also versatile. It provides the option to allot points to individual students or the entire class.

Classroom management is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching to master. And, like everything else, it is even harder when teaching from a cart. Teaching art from a cart is always challenging, but these tips will help you successfully manage any class.

If you’re looking for even more classroom management advice, don’t forget to check out the Managing the Art Room Course. In it, you’ll not only have access to the expertise of your instructor but to the support and ideas from all of your fellow classmates as well!

What other tips do you have for classroom management from a cart?

What classroom management system do you use when teaching from a cart?

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.


Anne-Marie Slinkman

Anne-Marie Slinkman, an elementary school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about providing relevant and meaningful art experiences for all students.

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