Relationship Building

Real Things Students Said in the Art Room and 4 Ways to Treasure Them

journal of student quotes

Students say the sweetest, craziest things! Yes, they can also say not-so-sweet things. Fortunately, one kind, encouraging, or sweet statement often overshadows those not-so-sweet things. Students’ kind and silly words brighten teachers’ days, remind teachers why they do what they do, and keep teachers going through the hard times. It’s a joyous part of the job, and this joy deserves to be documented!

student sayings social post

Let’s take a look at four ways to document student sayings and reminisce on some of our favorite memorable sayings from this year!

Every teacher has days when they feel down. Keep a record of students’ comments to help get you through the hard days, remind you of specific students and stories, encourage other teachers, and celebrate your wins with a broader audience. Use the crazy, funny, and heartfelt things your students say as a way to build yourself and others up!

Here are four ways to document the sweet or funny things your students tell you:

  1. Keep a journal.
    Start keeping a journal of all the funny, sweet, and memorable things students say. Flip through it when you need a good laugh!
  2. Make a binder.
    Not all students are comfortable with vocalizing how awesome they think you are. Some students prefer to write it down or show it by gifting you with funny drawings! Keep a binder of heartfelt notes and funny pictures. Keep it on your desk so you can pull it out whenever you need a reminder of why you do what you do.
  3. Document on social media.
    Try anonymously Tweeting the silly things your students say or take pictures of the notes (covering any names) and post them to Instagram or Facebook. It may even encourage some of the other teachers who follow you. Scroll through your posts whenever you need a pick-me-up!
  4. Record voice memos.
    If you don’t have time to write your students’ memorable statements down, take out your phone between classes and quickly record yourself saying their statements. Better yet, ask your students to repeat what they said while you record them saying it. You’ll forever be able to hear their voice and intonations whenever you need a reminder of the joy your students provide. Just be sure to check with district and school policies before recording your students!

voice memo

Here are six heartwarming things students said this year to their art teachers.

Keeping a record of student sayings is an important tool for remaining positive. Let’s reminisce on some encouraging and funny things students have said to their art teachers this year.

1. You make a positive difference!

It may feel cliché, but art teachers make a difference in their students’ lives. No matter how old the student is, they probably have preconceived notions about their artistic skills, self-image, and intellectual abilities. Use your role to build students’ self-perceptions up because you never know if others have torn them down.

Surface designer Veronica Campos-Hallstrom realized this when her student said, “You are the first art teacher I ever had that has encouraged me.” After hearing this, Veronica said, “Sharing this was eye-opening. The statement came from a college student! I plead with all levels of art teachers: Make a positive difference. It’s part of our jobs!”

2. You introduce students to culture and knowledge.

As much as we may not want to admit it, we have all had a student who slept through our class and did not pay attention. Jean Aguilar, an art teacher in California, had one such student. Years later, he came up to her and excitedly shared how he saw Picasso’s Guernica in person and remembered it from art class. Art teachers plant seeds, and you may not see them bloom until later!

3. You motivate and instill a love of art.

Most art teachers have moments of self-doubt. They wonder if they’re teaching students “correctly,” if students are really listening and learning, or if they’re effectively instilling a passion for artmaking. You may feel like you’re not making a difference, but one student tells you you’ve helped them fall in love with creating art. A student who started the year with little motivation to draw came to me and said, “CURSES! You are actually making me want to draw.” Knowing I found a way to encourage them to create was the highlight of my year!

Other art teachers have similar experiences. Ohio teacher Sherri Glickstein had a shy fourth grader who left her class one day, came back, and said, “You know, I really love art. Thank you for being my art teacher!” Sometimes it’s obvious when students enjoy your class, but it’s always nice to hear you are fostering a love for art, even in the students who are less vocal during class.

journal of student quotes

4. You provide a safe and happy environment.

Your art room is a place of reflection and relaxation for many students. When you ensure students are safe, free from judgment, and allowed self-expression, your art room becomes many students’ safe haven. Like art teacher Vinegar_and_glitter, you’ve probably had a student who proudly tells you, “Your room is my happy place!”

In fact, students may appreciate the environment you provide so much they often don’t want to leave! Pennsylvania elementary art teacher Christel Turingan’s student said, “I don’t want art to be over! Can we just have art all day?” Students like Christel’s find solace in the art room and can have a hard time going without their happy place during school breaks. When Idaho art teacher Stephanie May asked one of her first graders if she was happy to be back from break, the little girl replied with a giddy, “Hell yeah!”

When you deliberately create a safe environment, students learn to trust you. They may even start to treat you like a parent or guardian! Vandy Leigh had this experience with a high school student. He approached her and asked, “Ms. Duffy, will you do a mom thing for me?” He then proceeded to hand her scissors, pull the tags out of the back of his shirt and ask her to cut out his shirt tags. There’s something sweet and comforting about students trusting you to take care of the little things for them!

5. You model mature reactions to criticism.

Teachers’ personal lives aren’t immune to student commentary. Spend a few days in a classroom, and you’ll know exactly what students think about how you dress, how you should do your hair, and what they think about your relationship status. Students sure know how to keep teachers humble!

While students’ comments about teachers can sometimes feel a little too personal, the way teachers react to these comments models how to respond to criticism, stay positive, and not take yourself too seriously. Art teacher Phyllis Willis had one student ask her why the top of her head was sparkling. She knew she didn’t use glitter that day, so she looked in the mirror and realized she needed a touch-up. Her gray hair was showing! She found the humor in the comment and was able to laugh about it.

Linda Pellegrino Barhydt had a student ask her, “You’re 31, and you’re NOT MARRIED? Doesn’t that make you sad?” Sometimes what makes teachers laugh is not what students say but rather their willingness to express their opinions so openly. Show them you can find humor in their statements while still disagreeing with them!

Other times, students’ comments can sound rude, but in reality, they’re compliments! Elementary school librarian Tina Omczaktina’s student told her she smelled like her grandma. Tina asked her if her grandma smelled good, and the student said her grandma smelled great! When students’ comments sound like criticism, lightheartedly questioning the student’s true meaning shows you seek to understand before taking offense. You never know students’ true intent until you are willing to dive deeper into the conversation!

6. You appreciate the silly things students say!

While students can drive you crazy, they are also a source of joy, entertainment, and laughter. Sometimes what comes out of their mouths is just plain out there! Demonstrating your ability to laugh shows students you are human, relatable, and understand their sense of humor. Art educator Kelsey Leigh got a giggle when an innocent second grader proudly talked about his work and then said, “She do be thick, though!”

Personally, hearing students talk about age always makes me smile. Recently, one student loudly proclaimed, “I’m turning 13 next year, which means my mom is going to be OLD!” The statement turned the topic of conversation to moms, and one student said, “My mom says no dating until marriage!” Another student proudly proclaimed she was not going to date until her late 30s! Hearing their innocent perspectives on what it means to be old and how they are planning their distant futures makes me appreciate their innocence and youth.

thank you notes

Students have something to say about pretty much everything. They let teachers know they’re making a positive difference, motivating and instilling a love of art, teaching them about different cultures, and providing a safe space for creativity. Their statements make art teachers laugh and feel successful, so focus on those things! Document what they say and use it to fuel your passion for teaching. Let every cute statement, every time students make you giggle, and every thank you they give be a reminder of why you do what you do!

What are some memorable things your students have said this year?

How have your students’ words positively impacted your life?

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.


Chelsea Solano

Chelsea Solano, a secondary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about choice-based art education, fiber arts, and amplifying students’ voices in the classroom.

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