With Gratitude: A Love Letter to Art Teachers and Their Artful Ways 

students working

Being an art teacher is a special and unique job that requires certain skills. You may save paper towel rolls, collect old magazines, and manage a group of 30 kindergarten students using paint and glue. Your superpower is finding order in all creative messes and making art from things that most people see as garbage. Check out why we appreciate and admire you, art teachers, for your unique and quirky ways! 

heart coil pot

Dear Art Teacher,

We love you for hoarding with a purpose (or what you would call being resourceful).

We understand your collection of unique items not found in art supply catalogs. Your bins of old shoes and seashells make sense. We understand you start saving anything and everything for the inevitable moment when budgets decrease and class sizes increase. You can see value in something others may see as waste. The jars you saved from the trash work great for storing a collection of buttons or watercolor paint made from dried-up markers. Every scrap of paper, lost marker top, and broken crayon is worth keeping as you embrace the desire to collect and preserve all materials for future purposes

watercolor markers

We love you for the innovative ways you use cardboard.

Someone else’s trash is often your treasure. Stacks of broken-down boxes are a sign of wealth in your eyes. We admire your ingenuity in transforming pizza boxes into easels, using scraps for hot glue drip catchers, and recycling egg cartons as paint palettes. You grant cardboard multiple lives and new uses in your classroom. It may love you just as much as we do for giving it a second chance—or maybe even a third!

Check out three ways you can use cardboard in your room:

  1. Two Stunning Projects Made Entirely From Recycled Materials 
  2. 8 Unique Ways to Use Toilet Paper Tubes 
  3. An Art Teacher’s Love Letter to Cardboard: 12 Uses for Cardboard 

corrugated cardboard closeup

We love you for your ability to adapt and modify.

No Sink? You use buckets. No kiln? You use air-dry clay. No art supplies? You use whatever you find. Aside from glue, it is not uncommon for art teachers to find themselves in sticky situations! The growth mindset is strong in art teachers like you. You teach your students how to engage and persist, which is exactly what you do every day. Regardless of the circumstances, you find innovative ways to adapt to your student’s needs. Curve balls thrown at you daily are blank canvases ready for your masterpiece solutions. 

See innovative ways art teachers use noteworthy solutions in their classrooms in the resources below:

water pouring into a bucket

We love you for finding beauty in the great outdoors.

Students learn to turn mistakes into masterpieces through the process of learning how to see the world like an artist. You help students discover beauty in the most unlikely places. Thank you for teaching students to see the extraordinary in the ordinary through your artist’s mind. Simple leaves and tree bark become texture rubbings and rocks and twigs become collaborative sculptures. Bringing your art classroom outdoors provides an opportunity for your students to make art wherever you are! 

Do you need ideas for how to utilize the outdoors in your art lessons? Check out these resources:

leaf closeup

We love you for striking a balance between organized chaos and organized creativity.

Paint drips, scattered art supplies, and messy hands are chaos to an untrained eye. To an art teacher, these are signs of creative energy cultivated within your art room. You provide a safe space for students to express themselves within organized chaos. The systems you create within your classroom give students a space to harness their imaginations and gain useful skills that extend beyond your art room. Students will remember the way you prompted them to think outside of the box. 

Are you interested in ways to create organizational systems in your art room? Check out the YouTube mini-series, Artfully Organized!

We love you for your collaboration.

Being an art teacher often means taking on extra responsibilities, like collaborating with other departments to make cross-curricular connections and hosting an art and music show. When you showcase your students’ artwork around school, you’re not only promoting your art program but also spreading joy to others. We are thankful for your willingness to work together with people in your school and community. We know how much you love your students and how much they love you! 

cardboard flowers

We love you for being more than just the art teacher. 

Lastly, thank you for being more than just an art teacher. Thank you for sewing up holes in students’ clothes, supergluing broken glasses, and being the glue that holds so many other things together. You also have a special set of skills that are unique to you as an art teacher. On paper, students will learn color theory and how to make a pinch pot in your classroom. But in reality, students will discover how to make art from their mistakes, gain problem-solving skills, and creatively express themselves. You provide an environment for students to be themselves in a safe space. Whether you teach tiny humans or big kids, the difference you make in their lives each day matters.

thank you envelope

Thank you for being your quirky and unique self.

With Gratitude,

Your AOEU Community Who Appreciates You and Your Artful Ways

What do you love about being an art teacher?

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.


Kristina Brown

Kristina Brown, a high school art educator, is a current AOEU Writer. She is passionate about inquiry-based learning, student-centered art education, and creating a welcoming and engaging environment for students.

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