Professional Practice

30 Ways to Say Thanks

As art teachers, we handle the most challenging of circumstances and still create positive learning experiences for our students. We thanklessly teach on carts, stain our clothes, and do a million favors for our schools. But apart from the challenges, being an art teacher is one of the best careers for all of the joy and impact it has. In the spirit of gratitude this Thanksgiving season, and during the month of November, we want to spend some time (30 days to be exact) being thankful for everyone and everything that makes teaching art the best job. To join us, simply download the calendar below and follow along. If you play along, the odds are by the end of the month you are going to be feeling more grateful than ever for your unique and essential profession.

1. Be thankful for your favorite material today (because only art teachers know how good a new Sharpie feels).

2. Reach out to your favorite colleague and say thanks for their support and being the best work buddy. In addition to professional guidance, who else would you talk with at lunch, text during faculty meetings, and get Netflix recommendations from?

3. Send a message of thanks to the art education resource in your life. This could be a person, organization, publication, or even AOEU! Let them know how much you appreciate their work.

4. Thank you, Lysol wipes, for keeping a barrier between us and the mystery substances we have to wipe off our tables. Take a minute to restock your supply!

5. Change your computer or phone wallpaper to an inspiring art piece and be thankful for the world of art that has brought you a passion, career, outlet, and so many other means of joy now and in the future.

6. Take a minute to say a special thank you to the custodian or operations staff who support your classroom. Go one step farther and share your gratitude with their supervisor.

7. Swing by your administrator’s office to say thank you and share why you enjoy working together.

8. Kids are great but can be gross. Thank you, hand sanitizer, for keeping us as healthy as possible throughout the year. Place an extra bottle in a high-germ area today!

9. Thank you, Spotify, for letting all of our students add a song to your playlist and resolving the neverending argument of who gets to pick the music. Now, if only you could bleep out the bad words.

10. Thank a family member who has supported your career. Whether it’s your children who spend hours in your classroom while you work or your parent(s) who supported your own path in the arts.

11. Thank you, art room (or cart), for embracing the mess, clutter, odd still-life objects, and abuse that helps students create wonderful art. Spend an extra five minutes organizing a spot in the room.

M&Ms candy

12. We all have our vices (like multiple handfuls of peanut butter M&M’s) we seek out after a long stressful day. Indulge guilt-free today, and be thankful for your favorite treat.

13. Thank you, coffee, for helping us all be a little more tolerable for our first class of the day. Treat yourself to your favorite morning beverage today!

14. Send a message of thanks (yes, even if you don’t personally know them) to a current artist whose work you follow and who inspires your creativity. Let them know their work matters.

15.  Remember the trick you learned to keep paint bottles from clogging or markers from drying out? Show your thanks for the tips you’ve picked up along the way and post your favorite one on social media to share with others.

16. Thank weekends and days off! Disable email on your phone for a period of time and enjoy your personal time—you deserve it!

17. Reach out to a parent or parent organization and say thanks for supporting the arts.

18. Supply closets see who we really are and love us anyway. Say thanks to your storage spaces, and spend a little extra time today tidying them up.

19. Thank your helpful student today. Notice the one who stays behind to clean up after others, asks what they can do to help, and reorganizes the paint shelf just because.

20. Send an email and thank your local school board for supporting the arts.

21. Technology is great until it doesn’t work, and we have to call that special person in our life who doesn’t judge us for not trying to hit “restart” first. Thank your technology hero today.

22. Thank you, Ford Escape (or whatever transportation you use), for art show load-in, carting around art projects, picking up supplies, etc. Treat yourself to a car wash!

23. Time to thank your favorite way to decompress and disconnect from the classroom. Go for a walk, pick up a book, or whatever helps you forget teaching for a minute.

image of a lake

24. Spend time today rejuvenating at your favorite sanctuary or place of worship and being thankful for the peace and restoration it provides.

25. Thank you, social media, for bringing art educators together. Pick your favorite platform and send out a message of thanks to the art teachers in your network for sharing great ideas and supporting one another. Together we all learn more!

26. Every school needs a person who is always smiling and says, “Good Morning.” Let them know today how thankful you are for their attitude and spirit.

27. Thank your favorite project today for always being a success with students and share it on social media.

28. Spend time today with loved ones and be thankful for having them in your life.

29. Thank your favorite medium today for helping you create pieces of art that challenge you, allow you to take risks, and express your ideas. Celebrate your medium by finding a new artist to follow.

30. Of course, we have to say thanks to our students. They bring us joy, a purpose, and frankly, without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love.

Join us in a month of gratitude with this downloadable calendar.

Download Now!

Even if you do not start today, it is never too late to say thanks. While art educators endure a lot, we also have the opportunity each day to make a difference in the lives of so many students. Don’t ever underestimate the impact you can have on your school and community. Keep up the good work, stay positive, and remember all of the people in your tribe who keep you at your best.

In what other ways can art educators give thanks? 

How can art teachers hold on to the power of thankfulness throughout the year? 

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.


Nick Gehl

Nick Gehl is a department chair of fine arts and a former AOEU Writer. He enjoys working with art teachers to improve the student experience in the studio and foster more leaders in the arts.

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