Effective communication is the brush that paints a masterpiece of connection. Like the colorful threads that weave a tapestry, communication binds parents, students, teachers, and the community together. Even with the benefits, communication can still be intimidating, especially for new teachers. That’s why we’ve curated a collection of AOEU’s best complimentary resources to get you started. Simply download and distribute to save you time and energy plus give you a boost of confidence. Whether it’s chatting with parents, rocking back-to-school night, or sparking collaboration with local artists, we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore what AOEU has to offer and empower you to make better connections with your school, staff, and community.
Communicate with Parents
Communicating with parents and caregivers can be stressful. While we cannot control how others respond, we can make sure we are respectful, tactful, and honest. To help you frame your conversations well and foster strong connections, we have plenty of tips and resources to help! Explore the two complimentary downloads below and start the year building authentic connections with your families.
Encourage meaningful conversations at home about art with this helpful handout. Make tons of copies and send them home at the beginning of the year or with students’ first batch of artwork! It provides prompts for parents to give specific comments or ask deeper questions. It also shows students that art can bring people together.
Have this resource on deck as you near first-quarter progress reports or parent-teacher conferences. This is a way to increase communication around students’ grades without putting more work on your plate. Instead, it teaches students to take ownership of their grades and assignments and brainstorm their own plans to move forward.
Communicate with Students
Understanding students can feel like a piece of cake some days and like pulling teeth on others. While we can’t guarantee it will be easy every day, we can provide you with resources to set you up for success when it comes to communicating with your new artists. Set clear expectations and create a positive learning environment right from day one. Remember, small gestures can make a big difference in building trust and rapport! Let’s make every interaction count with the four downloads below.
The next two downloads are perfect for the first day of school! Start younger students or beginner artists with My Ideal Art Class Experience. This handout collects valuable student information such as what they like and dislike about art class, what they’d like to learn, and goals they’d like to accomplish. The Artist Inventory is another sheet to help you get to know your new students. It is an editable PDF so students can type directly on the form. This questionnaire goes a bit deeper and asks questions about hopes and fears, home life, and how the student identifies.
Part of relationship building and communicating with students is letting them care personally about you. As you learn more about your students, make sure you share interesting things about yourself too. A few days into the year, switch things up and surprise students by asking them to take a quiz about you! This will show how much they listen to you and it can open up fun conversations.
No matter how strong your relationships are with your students, occasional behavior challenges are inevitable. Be proactive and have these Art Room Think Sheets on hand! This guided exercise allows students to reflect on what happened and why, and determine their own appropriate consequences. It shows them how their actions may have affected others. As an added bonus, it provides student-generated documentation!
Communicate with Administration
Open the channels of effective communication with school administrators. It can be intimidating to talk to principals because you don’t want to bother them or you’re unsure of how to approach them. Remember, administrators want to help but often get caught up in chaos once school is in full gear. Take a deep breath and tap into the confidence you exude in front of your students! Be an art teacher leader and advocate for your program and artists. Start with a quick elevator pitch, or thirty-second spiel, to introduce you and your students, the need, and how their support will benefit the school. Pop your head into their office during your planning period or stop them in the halls when they’re doing their rounds.
Here’s an example of an elevator speech to a middle school administrator:
Good morning, [insert name]! I know you’re new to the school so I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Rebekah Hower, the art teacher, and I’d love for you to stop by anytime to see what the students are making this year. I love ceramics and seeing the students touch clay for the first time is such a fun experience. Right now, we have plenty of clay but could use glazes to add color, professionalism, and functionality to their projects. The students would love to be able to drink out of the slab mugs they make! Do you have 30 minutes this week for me to stop by and discuss the art budget? I will email you a proposal today so our time will be as efficient as possible and you can make an informed decision!
Follow up on your elevator pitch with the promised email and proposal. Download the editable letter below and attach it to your email to save you time and energy!
Communicate with Local Artists
Bringing in local artists encourages creative collaboration and boosts inspiration. Of course, you want to bring these benefits to your students this year! Finding artists, getting necessary paperwork taken care of, and booking a slot on the calendar can take time so it’s important to start networking now. But where do you start? Check out the download below for 1o Ways to Find Local Artists Willing to Work With Your Students and then apply the templates and tips in this article to initiate conversation and establish meaningful connections.
Communicate with the Community
Local artists aren’t the only ones in the community worth communicating with! Reach out to local businesses and organizations for outreach opportunities, service hours, and other partnerships. An easy way to bolster your art program’s supply stash is to ask for donations. Ask the local hardware store for scrap wood for sculpture bases or a doctor’s office for outdated magazines for collage work. Save time with the template below; customize it for the local businesses near your school and specific ways they can contribute to the art program. Then, don’t forget to thank them and invite them to the art show at the end of the year!
So there you have it, fellow art educators! We took a journey through AOEU’s archives and bolstered your communication toolkit. Effective communication can be tricky due to many factors. These downloads are valuable because they take the “how” out of the equation, giving you extra time and energy to focus on the content of your message and relationship-building. Bookmark this page or print them all and post them near your desk so you remember to use these handy resources. Best of luck creating connections that will make your art program shine this year!
Which download are you most excited to use this year?
What questions do you still have about communicating with parents, students, local artists, administrators, or the community?
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.