Relationship Building

Mantras, Murals, and Motivation (Ep. 201)

The Art Room Glitter Fairy is back! Sarah Krajewski returns to the show to talk to Tim about everything she has been creating and teaching over the past few months, and together they preview the upcoming Art Ed Now Conference. Listen as they discuss mindfulness, painting murals, and how to make PD exciting and worthwhile. Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by the Art of Education University and I’m your host Tim Bogatz.

Today we are going to welcome back Sarah Krajewski, an amazing teacher from Madison, Wisconsin who is also known as the Art Room Glitter Fairy on Instagram. She was on the show a few months ago talking about blacklight art. It was a great conversation. She had so many great ideas and I received a lot of positive responses to that episode. So she is back for another interview.

We have a lot to catch up on today. She has been doing an amazing amount of work for AOEU since we last talked to her, between writing articles every month, filming pro learning packs, and most importantly she has been working on filming an amazing conference presentation about classroom mantras, why they’re so important to her and why you should use them. Getting that presentation ready for the Art Ed Now Conference.

And speaking of the Art Ed Now Conference, it is time to sign up if you have not done so already. We have an amazing lineup, Sarah included. We have an incredible featured presenter, CJ Hendry, who you heard from last month here on the podcast. During the Art Ed Now Conference, we have 20 incredible presentations, an entire amazing day of PD, and if you sign up soon, you’ll also have a swag box full of art supplies getting delivered to your door. So check out the details. Get yourself registered at And best of all, I have a code for you to use for $20 off the price of the conference. So use the code AEN2020, that’s AEN2020, at checkout to get $20 off the price of the conference.

Before you do that though, before you get registered, it is time to chat with the Art Room Glitter Fairy. So let’s get the conversation started. All right and joining me now is Sarah Krajewski. Sarah, how are you?

Sarah: I’m great. How are you?

Tim: I am doing really well. I’m excited that you’re back on the podcast. So first of all, welcome back. And secondly, it’s early January, so how was it coming back from break and starting up teaching again after the holidays?

Sarah: Yeah, I know we were all kind of in the same group together, those teachers that were having a nice long break and then had to jump back into the classroom. But we had a short week so it was kind of a nice transition, and quite honestly I had that feeling driving back to school the first day back like, you know what, I can do this. I’m kind of ready for it. So it was a nice feeling to be excited and ready to go back.

Tim: Yeah, that’s always good when you’re actually excited like that. That’s when I know that break is long enough if you’re not dreading going back.

Sarah: Exactly.

Tim: Hopefully it was a good thing. So I guess let’s catch up real quick. What have you been doing recently as far as AOEU? Do you have any pro learning packs that you’ve done recently or articles that you’re really excited about, think people should check out?

Sarah: Yeah. So I have a couple of new pro packs that I recorded a while ago that are recently released. So one that just came out is called Art Room Hacks. And that was kind of inspired by the infomercials that I like to do on my Instagram, which is if you want to see me crawling and spilling things in the air, it’s really entertaining.

Tim: Highly recommend for anybody who hasn’t seen those yet. We’ll link to Sarah’s Instagram and you need to go check out those infomercials.

Sarah: Yes. So yeah, I had some art room hacks that came out and then I have a few other packs in the library like mindfulness and of course blacklight galleries and then our art club too. And then as far as articles go, I have a few other ones. A few of my favorite ones. There was one I did recently about empathy because I’ve been trying to incorporate a little bit more social-emotional learning skills into my classroom and not just focusing purely on art, but putting things together to make my students be awesome humans and awesome artists. So that was a fun article to write as well.

Tim: Yeah, that’s awesome. And then I really enjoyed your article about mindfulness. I mean that was just a couple of weeks ago I guess, but I was enjoying reading that and just talking about how you can be intentional with what you focus on and what you’re thinking about, encouraging people to slow down. And then my favorite was the tip you had about mindful hand-washing, because I was just like, who is mindful during hand-washing? And then you gave suggestions about it. And then I tried. I was like, this is amazing.

Sarah: It feels really weird to do that. And honestly, the funniest thing behind that, because obviously with writing the articles, I have to have pictures that go with them too. Or it’s invested that we have a lot images as well. And so I had a student at the time and I was like, “Hey, can you take a picture of me washing my hands?” So that was really weird, but really awesome.

So the fun fact behind that was actually my husband was telling me about in the medical field how nurses often have … I mean, a lot of people have stressful days, but nursing specifically were sharing how so many stressful moments felt really, really difficult to them. And the time when they had to just take a deep breath between going to the next patient was when they were washing their hands. And obviously, probably nurses and art teachers wash their hands the same amount during the day. It’s constant. So just the ten second wash, I’ve been trying to just really look at … I mean we have like a mosaic backsplash behind our sink, but really just look at what’s in front of you, intentionally take a deep breath and then just get yourself ready for your class or whatever task is ahead of you. So I realize the hand washing is kind of weird, but I don’t know, try it. You might really love it.

Tim: Yeah. And that’s the boat I was in. I was like, this is weird, but I’m going to try it. And now I am a convert. So that was good. I also want to talk about the upcoming conference just a few weeks away now. You’re doing a presentation this year on your classroom mantra. So I wanted to ask what appealed to you about the topic? What was the time when you were thinking about that and you just said, hey, I need to share this idea with everybody. This is what my presentation is going to be about, this is what people need to know about. What was that moment for you?

Sarah: Yeah, my mantra is a huge part of our classroom, and like I was mentioning before with the practicing empathy as a previous article that I had written, and obviously us just discussing about the mindfulness component of my classroom, the mantra really just goes hand in hand with that. And I feel like telling people a little bit more about the simplicity of just having a really awesome phrase or a way to create a routine with your students is a fun way to start your class.

So it’s something that we had been doing for a few years and I had actually presented on it at the National Art Ed Conference on a little care doll, which means when you go to a National Conference sometimes there’s presentations where instead of one person presenting at the front, there’s five or six educators and then the group just rotates between educators. So I had small groups presented on the mantra and people were really into the idea and it’s a very fun, pretty simple thing to add to your classroom.

So that always stands out as something that makes our classroom special. And the kids always are excited to share. In fact, kind of a fun story, Tia Nelson was visiting our school. We had visiting, I guess not artist, what would we call her? A visitor to our school. She who was being shown around our school and all of these fourth graders were taking her around to different parts of our school. And they walked into the art room and they just immediately started showing her, okay, we’re going to do the mantra for her, we’re going to show her how we do the kind kid, and this is the rule of the gluing table and all these fun things that we just do. But I didn’t realize that the kids were just so, so intensely connected to them until they had to show it off to somebody else. It’s like you know somebody has it when they can teach it. And it was fun to watch them.

So the mantra being such a huge part of our classroom is why I felt like that was probably a really great presentation. And I mean honestly, besides just the presentation that I’ll have up for the conference, there’s also one of my articles that was one of my first ones that came out. That was pretty much why having an art room mantra is so important, that it basically just said about how the power of positivity is so amazing. So just encouraging positive self-talk in your classroom, both in your students and in yourself as an educator. And then creating an awesome routine, something that always happens at the beginning of art so your students know what to expect. And then really just encouraging the community of your students to act together as a team. So instead of just working as an individual, saying something as a group is such a community component of the mantra that really helps us.

And then of course too, I don’t know about everybody else, but sometimes I find myself flustered in my brain at the end of a class because I have no prep time in between classes as I’m sure most people don’t. So the mantra I would always tell my students, I say, “Friends, this is not just for you, but it’s for me too, for myself to get ready to teach you and to breathe because I feel like I’m not ready.” So the mantra focuses myself and focuses them too. So it’s all around a really great way to start class.

Tim: Yeah, that’s really good. I feel like we could do an entire episode on just the mantra, but we’ll hold off on that for another time. But just thinking along those lines, just what people can get out of the conference. Are there other presentations that you’re looking forward to specifically? Or are there people you want to see? Or is it just sit back and see what comes and try and learn a little bit from everybody?

Sarah: Yeah. Well, honestly, when Cj Hendry was announced, I was so, so psyched, because I had already followed her on Instagram and was insanely excited to hear her talk and watch her process because it’s just so mind-blowing. So I had listened to your podcast with her and just loved hearing her talk about her work and hearing from current working artists. So obviously excited about her.

And then just when I was looking through the list recently of all the presentations, it was hard for me to choose who I was most excited about and which presentations, which is amazing. And I felt like the coolest thing about the conference and about teaching in general is that so many things can be either made to work at a higher level or taught down to lower elementary. So that’s why even some of the educators that I know might gear a bit more towards high school with myself being elementary. I’m like, ooh I know I’m going to be able to get stuff from those specific presentations.

So a couple that stood out certainly were Caitlyn Thompson’s Art With Coach T. she always has such great fun energy and she did one about bookbinding, so exploration and creativity with bookbinding. So I’m psyched about one. I know Kadesia Latimer, she’s the Busy Brushes on Instagram and she’s doing some cool stuff with classroom management for bigger classes. And I follow her on Instagram and every time she posts something I’m just stunned with how beautiful all of her things are and she’s got such a great attitude. So I’m excited about hers. And then Jordan de Wilde stood out to me too, because he’s doing one on contemporary art and he has such great connections to what’s happening today in his classroom with his students.

So those are a few that stood out to me, but certainly every single one I’m really excited about.

Tim: Good. I’m glad to hear that. And I think one of the big things with putting together everything for the conference is I try and find people who can level up or level down their lessons depending on where they are. And I feel like elementary teachers are really good at that, taking high school ideas and simplifying for their classrooms. But I feel like high school teachers are so bad at doing the reverse. They see these elementary lessons and they immediately dismiss it. And I really wish I could just get everybody to realize if you spend just a little bit of time thinking about this, everything can level up to what you’re doing. So anyway, whoever’s listening to this, I don’t know who needs to hear this, but …

Sarah: Tim’s on his soapbox today. I love it. I feel like that too, even just as a side note, I have obviously been doing blacklight with my students, blacklight galleries, and I definitely want to see a super upper-level high school blacklight show. How amazing would that be? Somebody tag me so I can see an upper level crazy glowing show. Anyways.

Tim: Yeah, I feel like that would be worthwhile. I think that would be amazing. I also wanted to ask you too, you were just telling me off-air about the mural that you’re painting at your school, and now I found out that you’re coming down early to AOEU headquarters to paint a mural at headquarters. So can you tell me your plans for that?

Sarah: Yeah, I’m super excited about it. At AOEU headquarters, it’s a very open space so you can see as everybody’s working in, there’s a pretty big wall right when you enter that’s in the gathering area. And I’ve been doing some artwork for them as well that’s inspired by their branded colors. As you know, the AOEU colors are that turquoise blue, but then also 16 other colors. There’s a million colors. Hello, we’re art teachers. So they gave me all the branded colors to use and I’m making some cool painted panels that will be on display to help inspire the people that work for AOEU. And then a bigger mural that I think is probably about 12 feet long or so that I’ll be painting the day before I come and see you for the conference.

Tim: Nice. That’s going to be good. We will have to get on social and share that, just give everybody a look at headquarters and then yeah, get an idea of what you’re doing there. So I think that should be fun. And also I’m going to get some advice from you because you’re going to be running the chat and that’s part of the reason you’re coming down, so you can show up on camera with me at the conference, which will be a blast. But also you’re going to do the chat. So, speaking to everybody out there, why do you think people should join in with the chat? What do you think people can get out of it when they’re attending the conference?

Sarah: Yeah, I felt like just being able to feel like you’re part of the community and being part of the conference, because admittedly the online conference, you can totally be just a person that scoping in the information, but it’s fun to interact. It feels like it gives you a little bit more of a connection to what’s actually happening. So I liked the chat because that’s a really great way to just feel like you’re there. Right?

It’s really easy to get your questions answered too. Like if you’re ever watching something and you just don’t really know what’s going on, or you need a link to something, or how did you do X, Y, Z to the presenter, they’re going to be right there to answer. So that’s a great thing to be able to not have to wait for something to be answered or be stuck in your confusion. It’s a great way to be A, connected and then B, get your questions answered right away.

Tim: Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. And I also love in the chat seeing people. Well, a lot of times the presenters themselves will pop in there, which is kind of cool to be able to talk to them in the chat along with the Q&A. But a lot of times other teachers will share additional things that they do, or like, oh this is a great idea, reminds me of this, which is going on in my classroom. Or maybe these artists would work really well with this. And just all these side conversations really enhance the learning. So I think that’s a big part of it.

And then just one last question for you. What would be one or two tips you would share with people for those people that are attending the conference? What would you say to them to help them get the most out of their conference experience?

Sarah: Yeah, a couple of things that always come to mind when I’m attending an online conference are to certainly take notes in whatever form that looks like. And the awesome thing is that you can obviously go back and watch presentations. So if you’re distracted during part of it or maybe something got caught under the radar, you can go back and watch that presentation again, I think for a year. Right?

Tim: Yeah, for a full year.

Sarah: For a full year. So the nice thing as you’re watching it is just to jot down a couple of things, because for me, I get so excited in the moment and then I’m thinking back to everything I just watched, and within hours everything gets jumbled or lost. So if you take a quick note about just what you might want to look back up again or what parts stood out to you, that’s a great way to keep track of things.

In fact, I have another article that’ll be coming out probably in the next month or two that’s about setting goals post conference. So whether it’s post online conference or you’ve gone to your state conference or the national conference, a lot of times, especially with me, I feel myself getting so excited and inspired and then I get back to my classroom and I still feel that inspiration, but I can’t remember what it was I wanted to do or I get lost or I’m overwhelmed by things. So I wanted to give some suggestions about how to set goals for yourself and really follow through with just a few simple things.

So one of them was certainly taking notes, but then just really paying attention to when you find yourself getting excited and sparking your energy over something that you see. So especially, I’m picturing if you’re watching the conference by yourself, if you ever find yourself talking to the screen, like whoa, that’s cool. That feels like a moment you probably want to write down because I bet it’s a really awesome thing. Maybe that’s just me, but I think those parts are probably times when you can take notes or that’s clearly a spark of excitement that you should take back to your classroom and share that with your students.

So I guess that’s my main tip is really just take a couple notes and then don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of things, but give yourself maybe one or two things as a goal and say this was something either very simple or an entire project that I am for sure going to put into my classroom because of this conference, to really hold yourself accountable and do something that you’ve seen from the conference. And then of course just enjoy it. You know, especially if it’s your first conference and you don’t know a lot of how it all works. Just sit back and get comfy and enjoy and really share in the community of talented art educators.

Tim: Yeah, that’s really, really good advice. So I like that a lot. All right. Well Sarah, we will wrap it up there. Thank you so much. It’s been awesome to talk to you and I will see you in just a couple of weeks for the conference.

Sarah: All right, thanks Tim.

Tim: I hope you enjoyed that conversation. I always have a lot of fun talking to Sarah and it’s always something to look forward to. Now, I will probably talk to her again right after the conference for our Art Ed Now recap show, so you can look for that on February 4th if you want to hear from her again. And tell them, check out the links in the show notes for some additional ideas and some additional learning on classroom mantras and how to wash your hands with mindfulness and a whole lot more. We will share Sarah’s Instagram as well, so you can see everything that she has going on in her classroom and you can keep that learning going.

Art Ed Radio is brought to you by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you as always for listening. Remember to sign up for the conference at And use that code AEN2020 for $20 off your registration. All right. I will hopefully see you there on February 1st.

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.