A Simple Tip for Getting Students to Listen Better

As we all know, 60 minutes isn’t a lot of time to teach a lesson. Sometimes having all the supplies out on the tables before students arrive makes sense. However, one problem I’ve seen art teachers discuss in AOE’s Managing the Art Room course is that students are totally distracted by those supplies when they are trying to introduce the lesson!

So what can we do? How can we have supplies ready AND get our students to listen without burning through precious class time? Make sure to watch the video to see how a simple lunch tray can help.

How do you encourage your students to listen to you?

Do you put supplies on tables or wait until you’ve given directions? Tell us which option fits you best and why in the comments!

2 years ago

Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.


  • LeeAnn Watson

    Hi. I teach K-12 art and I only get my students for 30-45 minutes once a week so it’s so important to be prepared. I also only have 5 minutes between classes. I sat down with the office and tried to schedule the same grades back to back so prep work is a little simpler but it doesn’t always happen that way. So to maximize time I have everything out and ready to go. I greet my student outside of my classroom in the hall, once they are all quiet and listening I give a quick over view of what we are doing and send them to either color coded tables or to my big carpet. If we are just sketching or a simple paper project they go to the tables but if it’s painting or something other than “simple” we sit at the carpet and I give directions. It works beautifully!

    • Awesome LeeAnn! Being prepared is always the way to make a class run smoothly!

  • Lisa

    Whether teaching elementary or teaching middle, (50 minute classes), I never placed supplies on the tables. It’s much to distracting…plus, students are required to make color selections based on what they are portraying in their work (so they would have to get up anyway for most lessons). I have always had a separate counter (or row of tables) on the side of the room with all of the supplies laid out for each particular lesson. Students are called up one table at a time to select what they need and are reminded to leave the supply table in the same condition they found it for the next group.

  • Phyllis Bloxson

    I choose a team leader each week for each table, my chairs have yellow numbers one to 3 on them. I chose a different number to be leader each week. This week it is chair number 3, the leader gets all the supplies needed for their table from special areas. I also have a clear plastic box with the most used supplies by all grades in it on each table. The team leader will get the supplies out when told to by me. The boxes are the size of a boot shoebox and contain a container of markers , colored pencils, crayons, sharpener and pencil case. .The rest of my supplies have designated areas. This works well and has for many years now. I teach K-5 and see around 700 students a week. My classes run from 35-40 minutes according to the teachers whim, they are suppose to be 40 minutes but some teachers think their time is more precious than mine.The students artwork is stored in a labeled box with their code on it, ie yellow1, yellow means first grade and 1 is my first first grade class. I have 7 first grade classes.