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The end of the semester or trimester is a great time to promote your classes. At the secondary level, promoting your visual arts courses is an essential part of the job. Unfortunately, course selection time always pops up out of nowhere just when you’re barely treading water. How can you even think about next fall when you just need to get to winter or summer break?
Even with all that added pressure, consider this an opportunity to reinvigorate and inspire another group of artists. Make promotion enjoyable, collaborative, and exciting instead of an additional burden. Collaborate with colleagues in your department, district, and community to share the responsibility. While there’s always more to do, digitally promoting this year will only add to your cache for yearly reuse.
Paper pamphlets and flyers often end up in the trash. Digital resources are cheaper, more sustainable, and editable; they also reach a much wider audience. Create a clear pathway for students to determine their selection options.
Create a slide show of alumni working in a creative field or talk about how their experience in your classes helped them in college and beyond. Help parents and students see how choosing your courses throughout high school will benefit them in the long-term. For an added fun bonus, include a piece of their high school artwork next to the work they’re creating now. Everyone will celebrate how far they’ve grown and connected their art experiences with creative career paths.
Students don’t always recognize their strengths. Highlight their strengths and show students all the possibilities. Maybe a student wasn’t great at photography, but you noticed they have great drawing skills. Consider what specific teachers might be able to offer, as well. A student who needs a lot of structure will thrive with your colleague notorious for their organizational skills. Bonus: Make your course selection ticket the size of a bookmark. Students can slip it in their English text to remind them how awesome they are at art.
While not every kid is ready for the next level, every student should be taking art every semester. By showing them that you have considered their strengths and interests, you are securing another student in your art program and fostering community.
Students will feel extra special when they receive this fancy ticket. Students can bring this ticket to their course selection appointment to confirm they are eligible for the course. Even students who receive the verbal nod will often ask later for an “actual” Golden Ticket. These honors seem like such a small thing but really are a big honor to our most advanced students.
Include students talking about their favorite classes and why. Students get way more excited when they hear from their peers how awesome a course is. Including a short blurb vocalizing their genuine interest will go a long way.
Students want to see what they might create in your course. Make sure to include not only the best of the best. Students who think they “can’t draw” should see how they might start with few skills but can grow throughout the semester.
Making art is hard work, but it’s also social and exciting. Photos of students working on their art while engaging in discussion, smiling and laughing, or using really cool tools like torches will remind potential artists how great it really is to take art.
You will find the same questions pop up time and time again. Create a FAQ sheet or have students ask and answer at the end of the video.
Create stickers, pins, or other items that are easily reproducible in large quantities. With many students one-to-one, they can bling out those Chromebooks and advertise your classes. Once you create a bulk order or even a template, the only thing left to do is keep a stash around for any promotional times. Bonus: Branded swag just keeps on promoting your classes FOR you!
Make a fun trivia game, create your own virtual pottery, or some Quick, Draw. You can do this through an app or even a Google Form or quiz. This is also a great way to generate interest and gauge participation.
Promote your courses when everyone’s a winner! A raffle gives everyone a chance to win and puts your swag to good use.
Host a half-hour social event and have your students teach the class for you. Younger students get a chance to meet teachers and create something simple together at home, while older kids earn service hours and share their love of art.
Let your students choose their own path with a choice board. Create a short video from each teacher to welcome students. Include a game to show off the cool things students will learn. Add in a simple Google Form to gather information about interest and questions.
Ask students to collaborate to create a design for each course. These can be turned into stickers or used in the course choice boards. Bonus: Students can earn service hours to add to their portfolio and resume!
Engage your students by having each student handwrite one to two postcards. Send these home to your incoming freshmen to invite them to take your class.
Ask your National Art Honor Society, Art Club, and advanced art students to create an original artist trading card. Scan and print multiple copies to send out to potential students. You can send them to junior high students in bulk using interdistrict mailing. Have students include their school email and create a pen pal mentorship!
Sure, we all get inundated with emails. But sending an email can be as simple as “copy/paste.” Send an email directly to students (and their parents) in your classes with one personalized line. Your little encouragement will foster their love of creating.
Collaborate with your junior high colleagues to identify students who would be interested in and/or excel at art. Or blast out a general info session to make sure everyone knows their options once they hit high school.
Include your digital resources in emails and social media posts. Upload your videos to YouTube, add to your Instagram story, take a Twitter poll. Here are a few social media tips:
Download the following PDF and keep it handy as you try new strategies.
Visual arts are needed more than ever. Remind students and parents that regardless of your teaching environment, the arts are essential. Advocacy now will help retain long-term enrollment and foster your visual arts community. Remember to try a few things you think will work best for your program. You don’t have to do it all this year. Consider the skillsets of teachers in your department and share the workload. Collaboration with your team will help your program grow and help connect and celebrate why you went into teaching in the first place.
How are you promoting your art classes this year?
How do you feel the pandemic will impact your enrollment next fall?
What strengths do your colleagues have to help break up the workload?
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.