Curriculum Design

How to Be Ready for Anything This Fall


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The past several months taught us quite a few lessons we should not forget.

We saw how quickly things could change with education and the required shift in instruction. We watched our school leaders make countless decisions based on the direction and guidance from the local and national government and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Regardless of whether schools will start online, in a hybrid model, or in-person, they will operate differently. It’s possible schools might also start in one model and then shift to a different model. As a result, school leaders will continue to create plans and pivot based on what’s needed for the students, staff, and community. Art education needs to survive this pandemic, and that requires all of us to be ready for anything.

3 Ways to Prepare Yourself This Fall

1. Be ready to shift.

Similar to the spring, there is the potential for schools to start in one structure and make a sweeping change to a different one within twenty-four hours. While you might know how your school is starting the year, be prepared for a potential shift with little notice. Time will be of the essence. You already have a lot of experience in your room and now some with online learning. Reflect on both experiences and be ready to put any transition plan into action quickly.


How to shift from any hybrid or in-person instruction into all online learning: 

  • Have art kits planned for students based on what you have in-stock
  • Find apps students can access from home to replace other software used in class.
  • Shift students, if possible, into courses that can be implemented better from home.
  • Create a checkout process for students to take supplies or equipment home.
  • Be aware of how your projects would change if students are online.

How to shift from all online learning into any hybrid or in-person model:

  • Be aware of what art supplies you have in stock.
  • Develop a plan in advance for rearranging your classroom to maximize social distancing.
  • Know which in-person project you will do first and have your supplies set aside.

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2. Create sub plans.

Regardless of which structure your school will be using, having sub plans ready for a variety of scenarios might become useful. Should you need to take time away from your teaching for any reason, you’ll want to have plans you can easily and effectively implement. In some cases, developing sub plans in a critical moment can add unnecessary stress. Here are a few things to consider with your planning:

sub plans

  • Assignments: Create plans that can be implemented at any time, regardless of what students are currently working on. This could include a series of activities like sketchbook prompts or creativity exercises. Have your plans accessible from school and your home.
  • Materials: To be absolutely ready, have supplies pre-organized and set aside only to be used in conjunction with your sub plan. Some circumstances might prevent you from accessing your room or building, and you’ll want the supplies easily accessible to someone else.
  • Timelines: Your substitute needs might vary from one-day to a more extended period of time. Create short and long-term plans for your students that can be applied depending on the situation.

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3. Be creative.

Over the next few months, your administration might be asking questions about how the arts can respond to certain scenarios. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to find a way to make each one of them work in the best way possible. Here are some things consider:

colored pencils in a bag

  • Be proactive: Even if your administration hasn’t discussed this with you, it’s very likely they already have plans for the art department. Be proactive by reaching out and letting them know you are prepared for a variety of scenarios in the fall and share some of your best ideas. The goal is for them to know the arts can be taught under any circumstance.
  • Be resourceful: Reach out to your colleagues and tap into your networks for ideas. Art teachers across the country are in similar positions, and you might learn about something new that works for you.
  • Be creative: Finding the best solution in an unprecedented time can take a lot of original thinking. Good thing art teachers are the most creative thinkers in the building! Think creatively to develop ideas that meet all of the constraints (technology, money, materials, etc.) and support students.

Projections over the next several months vary greatly, and we need to be prepared for anything. This can be challenging when the landscape keeps changing, but it’s important to shift with the moving waters.

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Start by getting involved in the discussions with your administration and try to learn about the plans in development. Identify yourself as someone who is here to problem solve and help the process in support of the school and the students. In addition, be ready in your classroom with a strong knowledge of how supplies and curriculum will work online, in-person, and with a substitute.

You are about to start a year unlike any other. Being prepared for a variety of scenarios can help ensure you and your students are successful under all circumstances.

How can art teachers support each other during this difficult time? 

What approaches have worked with students that you can share with others?

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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