Classroom Management

Art Teachers In Training: A Management Tool (Ep. 008)

Cassie starts the show with some of her biggest pet peeves, but quickly turns the show around by introducing your new favorite classroom management tool–the concept of art teachers in training. She explains the responsibilities that those trainees take on (2:00), why she puts them in charge (6:00), and dishes on her best tips for hanging student work (9:15). Full episode transcript below.


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Can we talk for just a moment about some art teacherin’ pet peeves? We’ve all got them, right? I bet we could share them and we would find that we have so many in common. I thought I’d go with my top three.

Number one, the whole shoving a pencil inside the tip of a glue bottle. Which of course leads to a busted piece of lead inside the glue bottle, rendering that glue bottle useless. Yeah, pet peeve number one. Why you got to stab that glue bottle, you all? What did ever do to you?

Pet peeve number two, placing a wet painting on top of another wet painting. Which of course I never seem to find until the following day, when the two masterpieces are glued together. It’s called a drying rack. You put them on there separately. We don’t stack them.

Of course, my third pet peeve and probably the one that drives me the most crazy, asking me the directions over and over and over again. While I do love the sound of my own voice, I don’t love saying the same thing over and over again to a bunch of kids who I just gave the directions to.

So today, we’re going to talk about a little system I came up with, with the help of many other art teachers, called Art Teachers in Training. This is Cassie Stephens and this is Everyday Art Room.

Let’s talk about this thing that I call Art Teacher in Training. What is it? Alright, let me break it down for you. The who, what, where, why, when and how’s of Art Teachers in Training. Ideally, an art teacher in training is a group of students who are miniature yous. When fellow students have a question, they don’t know where a certain supply is, they don’t know what to do next for a step, that’s when your art teachers in training step up to bat. You no longer have to repeat yourself because you’ve got your miniature art teachers in training to do that job for you, and gladly I might add. That in short is what an Art Teacher in Training is.

So, who is chosen as an art teacher in training? In my art room I like to pick different students every single art class. This I do for a couple of reasons. It serves as a motivation for students to do the right thing and to listen carefully, knowing that they might be chosen as an art teacher in training, and therefor have to answer the questions of their buddies. It also makes it so when they start and get settled into art class, they do it in such a way where they’re trying to capture my attention and show me that they want to be an art teacher in training. I usually choose a student, one per table. In my room, that means I usually end up with between four to five art teachers in training.

When do I choose my Art Teachers in Training? Well, I’m so glad you asked. I don’t choose them right when they walk in the door. I tell them, “Remember, I’m looking for some friends who are really listening carefully, because those people will be chosen as my Art Teachers in Training.” You better believe my friends sit up nice and tall in hopes that I notice their attentiveness. I usually do this, I give my students the directions, we do our little call and response routine, which I mentioned in last week’s podcast. Then I tell them that for the first five minutes of their creative time they need to work silently. I do this because it really helps them to focus and remember the directions and not be distracted by chats and conversations with their friends.

I tell them that during those five minutes, I’m looking to see who’s getting settled and getting started and doing the right thing, and showing me they want to be an Art Teacher in Training. After those first five minutes I pick one person per table to be the Art Teacher in Training. So, how do the other students know who the Art Teacher in Training is? Well, over the summer I picked up about five plain white aprons, and I tie dyed them. They’re really cool looking, I have to say. The kids love them. Those are my special Art Teacher in Training aprons.

Last year, I had my students wear lanyards that said on them Art Teachers in Training. If you wanted to get started on this this week in your art room, simply get a piece of index sized paper, use a little glitter because everybody loves glitter, some sparkles, and write the words Art Teacher in Training on them, punch a couple holes at the top, string some yarn through it and voila, you have Art Teacher in Training badges.

This year I just wanted to take it a little bit further, and let’s be honest tie dye something, so I made these aprons. These aprons, the kids love to wear them. I like them because I can spot my Art Teachers in Training very easily when I scan the room.

So, how does this Art Teacher in Training thing work? Well, I tell the Art Teachers in Training that they are in charge of the following. Whenever a student or a fellow artist at their table has a question, it’s their job to answer that question. I remind the students, that they’re no longer allowed to ask me the steps or the directions, they must first ask their Art Teacher in Training. If the Art Teacher in Training doesn’t know the answer, they are to seek out another Art Teacher in Training to see if that person knows the answer.

My goal is to eliminate me repeating myself continuously and getting frustrated by that fact. Ultimately I want to enjoy spending time with my students and watch their creative process, not answer, “Where does my wet painting go?” Over and over again. So, I place that responsibility back onto the students.

The Art Teachers in Training are also great when you need a little help. If, for example, the tables are getting a little too chatty, I might say, “Hey Art Teachers in Training, you need to remind your friends that they need to work quietly please.” Or, if I need some supplies passed out quickly, or things removed from the tables, I just call on my Art Teachers in Training. For me, this is a lot easier than having table jobs or certain students always getting to do certain things. It really helps me, this process of Art Teachers in Training, so I thought I would share it with you.

At the end of art class, the Art Teachers in Training simply hang up their aprons and hope that they get chosen soon enough to be the next Art Teacher in Training. This was just a quick one I wanted to share with you today, but I have to tell you, super effective in my art room, and another way to bring fun into your art room and put your students in charge.

Tim Bogatz: Hi, this is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. Did you know that you can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Art Ed PRO, the essential subscription service for professional art teachers? Pro members get instant access to a comprehensive on-demand library full with hundreds of expert trainings, hands-on tutorials and rich printable resources. It is the professional development you need when you need it. With topics ranging from assessment to classroom management to literacy and budgeting, Art Ed PRO has what you need to be the best teacher you can be. Check it out and sign up to start your free trial at Now let’s get back to the show and let Cassie open up the mail bag.

Cassie: Hey guys, let’s take a little into the mail bag. Yeah, there’s the reason I’m not a singer. Okay, so this question is from Julie, and I actually get this question a lot, a lot. Julie asks, “Cassie, how do you get your artwork to stay on the walls? When I see pictures of things that you hang up, everything is staying on the wall. Everything falls off my walls, how do you get your artwork to stay?”

Okay, when I answer this question I’m going to have to answer it in a couple of different parts and here’s why. You’ve got to use different means of stickiness, so to speak, for different things that you’re trying to hang. For example, if I’m hanging lightweight artwork, and by the way I have cinder block walls, ugh, but I digress. When I’m hanging lightweight artwork on cinder block walls, I like using Blue DAPP. Blue D-A-P-P, not to be confused with DAB. Blue DAPP can be found at your local hardware store. You can reuse it over and again. It literally looks like a blue wad of gum. If you kind of, I don’t want to say play with it but, play with it a little bit, stretch it between your fingers and warm it up so to speak, it works really well at temporarily hanging artwork on your walls.

Now, if you have things that are a little bit heavier, other works of art that maybe include multiple pieces of paper, perhaps a collage, giving that artwork some weight, then of course something you could use, which is not ideal, is hot glue. I don’t recommend using hot glue simply because of the damage it does to the walls when the artwork is taken down, but more importantly for me, being the art teacher, the damage it does to the artwork. Often times it will tear the artwork when I’m taking it down.

You could use something like double sided foam tape, which I used to use a lot. It does work great. I like it. The double sided blue tape made by 3M is wonderful. The problem with that is cost. It can be a little bit expensive. Marvelous Tape is a marvelous alternative because it is something that is very sticky but won’t damage your artwork when you take artwork off the walls.

Now, when I was hanging things like, in my art room, my new decorations created on wood, for example I painted a bunch of wooden ores to look like paintbrushes, I have paint brushes that I hung on my wall. Immediately, people are always curious, “How are you getting these heavier items to stick to the walls in your classroom?” Hot glue definitely won’t do the trick. What I like to use are Command Velcro Strips. They are fabulous. Command Velcro Strips are sold in long strips. They can hold up to 12 pounds in weight and they work great when you’re decorating your art room and wanting to hang something a little bit heavier.

Silly me, I completely forgot, when it comes time for your art show and you’re hanging not just a few works of art but a ton of art work, here’s my best weapon for hanging art work, deer mesh. You can purchase deer mesh from Amazon. It comes in a very long roll and you can cut it down to size. It literally looks like mesh, I guess that’s because it is. What I do is I use gaffers tape, G-A-F-F-E-R-S, gaffers tape to hang the deer mesh on the wall. I put a long strip of gaffers tape at the very top of the mesh and a long strip at the bottom.

Now, once the mesh is attached to the wall, I simply use clothespins to clip my students’ artwork to it. I used to use paper clips, but they would get tangled in the mesh and were an absolute beast to get out, especially since I reuse the mesh.

Those are my tips for getting things to stay on your wall. It’s a constant battle but I promise you, if you give deer mesh, gaffers tape, Command Velcro Strips and Blue DAPP, not DAB, a try, you’ll be excited with the results. This has been the mail bag. Please feel free to send me your questions at

Thank you so much for letting me share the idea of Art Teachers in Training with you. Why I love this idea so much is because not only does it relieve me of repeating myself continuously, but it also empowers my students. It really makes it so they are more focused on what they are doing, and when they need a little help, they turn to one another, as they should.

Now, no matter how you approach Art Teachers in Training in your room, with aprons, with a badge, by picking the same students every time or mixing it up like I do, I think what you will find is that it’s a fun method that both you and your students are really going to enjoy. Love to hear from you if you do use Art Teachers in Training in your art room, and what you put on it is your own personal spin. This has been Everyday Art Room and I’m Cassie Stephens.

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.