Showing posts with label elementary art blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elementary art blog. Show all posts

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 9: Burnout

This week, over on Everyday Art Room, I am addressing burnout. I know what you are thinking: Girl, we just started back to school, aren't you talkin' burnout a little early? Maybe...but not for me. You see, I've been feeling that weird, overworked/overwhelmed and under-excited sensation for a couple of weeks. I'm pretty good at the fake-it-til-you-make-it biz but it is catching up with me. Thankfully, for me, I'm heading in to fall break. The hubs and I are taking a trip, I'm getting my first every massage and I plan to do a whole lot of crafting, netflixing and relaxing. Since I was feeling a little meh, I thought I'd address it this week because I know I'm not alone. You can take a listen to the podcast here. I'll be sharing the complete transcript on the blog today.
I have addressed Burnout before in this Art Teacherin' 101. I've been to Burnout Town many a time. I'm usually to blame because of the following bad habits: 

1. Piling too much on my plate.
2. Rarely saying NO to anything.
3. Frustration over my lack of consistency and the results that follow in my art room.

I'm truly to blame for my own burnt-to-a-crispness. Knowing that, it's something I work on. Now, enough about all that, let's get to the podcast!


At the beginning of every Everyday Art Room podcast, I start with a story. I personally refer to it as story time. I don’t know if you’ve realized it or not. You might, if you have figured it out, refer to it as torture time. Be that as it may, I’m going to share a story with you right now. Now, usually, I share stories that are of the humorous nature. This one’s a little different.
I would say it was probably in my fifth or seventh, or who knows when, year of teaching. When you’ve been teaching as long as I have, you start to lose track. I was feeling sick a lot, and not the kind of sick where a kid sneezed on you and now you’re just laid flat for a week. No, the kind of sick where I could tell something was on my mind and it was affecting me physically, making me feel ill. I went to a doctor, and I told her that I was feeling stressed. It was causing me to feel unwell. I was getting a lot of headaches, and I was seeking advice from the doc on what I should do.
She was really concerned. She said to me, “Wow, it sounds like you have a really stressful job. What is it that you do?” I said, “I’m an elementary art teacher.” She paused and then laughed at me. I get it. I understood. I understand why she laughed. At the same time, I thought, “This is a person who doesn’t get it.” I know it might seem, to the average person on the outside, that I finger-paint all day, but, as you know, we don’t. Our job can be stressful, and it can lead to something called burnout. I’m very familiar with burnout. I actually was just familiar with burnout last week. Let’s talk about it. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Now, I’m going to be really honest with you guys today. I have actually experienced the joys of burnout many a time. Like I said, just last week, I was really contemplating my life’s choices, so to speak. Probably the most game-changerin’, if that’s a word … It is now … time that I had burnout was back in 2012, and I remember the year well because it’s when I decided to start blogging. Here’s how it went down, Charlie Brown. I was really feeling like I was stuck in a rut. I wasn’t creating. My passion had always been painting. I wasn’t doing that at all. I would come home and watch television, and go to bed, and go to school, and not do lessons that were very inspired or inspiring. I was just kind of repeating things I had done from year to year. I was bored, basically.
I thought, “You know what, I really enjoy looking at blogs.” At that time, I really enjoyed looking at blogs where girls were featuring the outfits that they were wearing, so I thought, “What if I start a blog where I share a lesson that I create, something that I personally have created, a DIY, and what I’ve worn that week? What if I do that? If I do that, it’ll kind of help me hold my feet to the fire and make it so that every week I’m really thinking about a new lesson to share with my students, something fun that I can create to tap into my creative juices and get them flowing again, and to showcase something that I love to do, which is dress like a crazy person.” That’s how my blog, which is called Cassie Stephens … Obviously, I didn’t spend a lot of creative power coming up with that name … came to be. A lot of people used to refer to it as What the Art Teacher Wore because that was a big feature on my blog.
All that to say, that was a real game changer for me. Suddenly, I was excited to go to school because I had come up with a fun project. I was excited to go home and create, not watch television, because I had a really fun DIY that I had a deadline for, that I knew had the week to come up with it and share it. Then, of course, I really enjoy dressing like a fool, so it’s always fun to share that aspect. That’s my journey. That’s what I did. I’m not saying all y’all need to go out and start a blog. What I am saying is that finding your passion, tapping into it, probably something that you’ve neglected … You’ve neglected yourself for a long time, I’m guessing, if you’re feeling burnout … is going to really help you get out of that rut.
Like I said, that’s my journey. Now I want to share with you my top seven ways to get out of burnout. Let’s start with number one. Number one, know that it is okay. You are not broken. You are still a fabulous art teacher. You are just experiencing burnout. It’s natural. It happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe when you get on social media that these awesome art teachers that you follow might actually experience burnout, but they do. If they tell you they don’t, they be lying. Don’t believe them. I’m telling you, I’ve been there many a time. Know that it’s okay. Don’t judge your feelings. Listen to them. That’s thing number one.
Thing number two, like I said a moment ago, know that we have all been there. Knowing that, consider reaching out to another art teacher. Ask them, “hey, I’m feeling a little bit burnt out. Have you been there?” You know they have. “What do you do to kind of get yourself out of that rut?” If you don’t have a fellow art teacher and buddy to reach out to, then consider a friend at school. If you’re comfortable with your admin, talk to your administration. They might have some really good tips to help you get out of that rut. They might be able to offer a book for you to read or even some classes to take.
Or just talk to somebody completely removed from the situation, like, tip number three, a therapist. Okay, I’m going to get real with you. Your insurance should cover a therapist. If your insurance covers a therapist and you are feeling burnout, get a therapist. I am a big advocate of talking to a therapist. I spent a long time talking to one. He was fabulous. It was a great experience. It was great to just talk to somebody who was totally removed from the situation, because what he did for me was he offered a completely different perspective. There’s nothing wrong with you or with talking to a therapist. Okay, I’m stepping off my therapist soapbox.
Number four, treat yo’self. Yes. I am a big Aziz Ansari fan, and I firmly believe in his words of wisdom of “Treat yo’self.” If you are feeling in a rut, then take yourself out of the situation. Go somewhere fun after school. One of my favorite ways to treat myself after school if I’m feeling like I just need a break is to go to the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. That is how I roll. That is how I treat myself. Seriously. The funny thing is is that because we can never turn our art-teachering brain off, I get so much inspiration when I go to places like the thrift store and the Dollar Tree. I also find a lot of DIY project ideas while I’m there. Think of what you really enjoy doing. Maybe it’s getting a mani-pedi. Maybe it’s, I don’t know, a massage, something a little bit more elaborate and fancy than going to the thrift store or the Dollar Tree. Now you know how I roll. Treat yourself. You deserve it, and sometimes you really need it.
Let’s talk about number five. This is what I was chatting about at the very beginning of this little convo, returning to your passions. Like I said, my passion used to be painting. I got my BFA in painting in college, and for some reason, I had it in my head that you could only be a true artist if (a) you were painting all the time and (b) you were painting all the time. Seriously, I had a really hard time getting that notion out of my head and just knowing that, no, just creating in general is being creative. You don’t have to go with that idealized version of an artist to be an artist. Just make something, which is now what I do constantly. I am always making something.
The thing is, I’m never painting. That’s the hilarious part. I’ve never returned to that passion. I actually think that I got that one out of my system, but I do really enjoy creating. It’s my passion. I love wearing crazy clothes, so sewing is also a passion. What I have found is that creating is like a ball rolling down a hill. Once the ball starts rolling, it just picks up momentum and it moves faster and faster, and pretty soon you find that you have more projects than you have time, whereas, in the past, I was always stumped for ideas. I never had anything that I was looking forward to making because I hadn’t gotten the ball rolling. Stop and think about what your passions are, and take some time, because it’s very important, to focusing on creating. It’s what brought you to art teachering in the first place.
All right, let’s talk about number six. Go easy on yourself. Think of the KISS method. Keep It Simple, Stupid. I’m talking about in the art room. I have kindergarten through fourth grade students. That means I have five lessons I need to come up with, or do I? Sometimes when I’m feeling a little bit burnt out and I’m feeling like I just am stressed … I’m getting out five different sets of art supplies and prepping five different visuals and videos and lessons … I just take a break and think, “You know what, it is okay if kindergarten and first grade do the same project, and it is okay if second and third, or even fourth, do the same project.” It’s fine. Keep it simple. What will happen is is that you’ll be happier, and as we all know, a happy art teacher makes for a happy art room. If you’re feeling burnt out, relax, breathe, and keep it simple, stupid. Sorry, I said the S word.
Last but not least, and this one is really important, get off social media. If you are feeling burnt out, it’s probably because you’re comparing yourself and your life to others. FYI, what people post on social media is the good stuff. Most people aren’t sharing the nitty-gritty, the bad, the ugly, because people don’t want to paint that picture of themselves. It’s just human nature, myself included. Just take a little social media break.
Put down your phone, enjoy the fam, create something, treat yourself, and keep it simple, and talk to a therapist. I think if you do at least a couple of those things, you’ll find that the burnout starts to ease a little bit and hopefully will eventually go away. I hope that’s been a little bit helpful to you. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a little nugget of info or an idea for you. Thanks for letting me share what’s worked for me.
Tim Bogatz: Hello, this is Tim Bogatz from Art Ed Radio. As you probably know, Art Ed PRO is the subscription service for professional art teachers offered by The Art of Ed. Earlier this week, we released three new learning packs, one on beginning with watercolor painting, one on diving deep in color theory, and one on using games in the art room. All of them are great, and all of them are really in-depth. Each of the three learning packs has between 15 and 20 videos, and all of them also have about a dozen resources that you can print immediately and use in your classroom. PRO members get three new learning packs every single month, and you have 24/7 access to every learning pack in the library. Sign up for your 30-day free trial and check out everything at artedpro.com. Before you go sign up, though, you should probably give Cassie your attention for the rest of this episode. Enjoy.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to take a little dip into the mailbag. This first question comes from Casey. Casey asks, “I’m curious if you have ever considered getting your National Board Certification, and what’s your opinion on that?” Well, I have never considered getting my National Board Certification because I’ve spoken with people who have their National Board Certification and it does not sound like my cup of tea. From what I’ve heard, there is a lot of paperwork, deadlines, and organization involved. Those three words are not my favorite. I do know that people who have pursued getting their National Board education have said that they feel like it has made them a better teacher, they’ve been more reflective of their methods, and improved upon art teachering.
This is funny because it really does tie into burnout. If I were to pursue my National Board Certification, it would be a quick ticket to burnout town for me. For me, I know what works, and I know if I wanted to learn something new or become a better teacher, I would be better suited to take a class, a ceramics class, a sewing class, where I’m pursuing my passion, but also gaining knowledge that I can bring back to my art room. But that’s me. If National Board Certification sounds like your cup of tea, then I say go ahead and drink it, but I also would suggest talking to somebody who’s gotten their National Board Certification, who can speak a lot more intelligently on the topic. Great question, Casey.
My next question comes from Kathleen. Kathleen says, “In the very first episode of Everyday Art Room, you mentioned a game called The Smartest Artist, but you didn’t explain how it works. Can you do that, please?” I would love to. In fact, I have created a video with The Art of Ed that does a better job probably than I’m about to do of explaining The Smartest Artist Game because there’s a visual.
Essentially, this is what we do. My students line up, and once everybody is in line, I pick three students standing nicely in line, a boy, a girl, and then whoever else is standing nicely. There’s a dry erase board on an easel standing nearby, and I give the boy and the girl a dry erase marker. I give the third student something called a sound machine. It’s this tiny little gadget that can make sound effects. You can find a sound machine on Amazon.
I say to the students, “Now it’s time for …” and they all reply, “The Smartest Artist.” Then I say, “All right, this is a question for the girls. Girls, can you please tell me the primary colors?” While they’re in line, the girls will raise their hand, and my friend who is a girl with the dry erase marker will call on one of the girls. If the girls get the answer correct, then they get a point on the dry erase board. The sound effects person with the sound machine … There’s a couple of fun little sounds on there, like a drum roll and an applause, so that’s what that student takes care of. They are the sound effects engineer.
Once the girls have gotten their point, we pass the next question on to the boys. We go back and forth with this usually a couple of times until the time is up, and we do this as a great review, and it’s also great to do if you have a couple of minutes where you’ve lined your kids up a pinch too early, not to mention they absolutely love The Smartest Artist game. Kathleen, I hope that claresified it … Girl, probably not. I hope that clarifies it just a pinch. Like I said, check out that video on The Art of Ed for a visual.
Guys, if you have any questions for me, feel free to send them my way at theeverydayartroom@theartofed.com.
Y’all, thank you so much for letting me share my many voyages to burnt out town with you and what has worked for me. Let’s go over them one more time.
Know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m the driver of the burnt out bus. Get on board, y’all. Let’s figure this out.
Get a therapist. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s just like talking to somebody removed from the situation.
Treat yourself. I also can’t recommend that enough, although, you know, going to the Dollar Tree and the thrift store might be a little bit lowbrow for you, so find what really will help you feel better and feel treated.
Return to your passions. That’s super important, and that’s really what helped me get out of my rut.
Go easy on yourself. Remember the KISS method when you’re in your art room. You’ll be much happier when you’re relaxed, and a happy art teacher makes for a much happier art room.
Last but certainly not least, get off social media. Take a break. Live in the now, y’all.
Thank you so much for letting me share my many trips to burnt out town. This is Everyday Art Room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Everyday Art Room, Episode 1


Hey, y'all! I'm THRILLED to share the launch of Everyday Art Room, a podcast partnership between me and The Art of Education! We began this pod-tastic adventure a while ago and have been working super hard to bring you some elementary art teacherin' talk. I cannot thank the team at AOE enough for their work on this project; they are truly dedicated to bringing the very best to art teachers everywhere. 

You can take a listen to the very first episode of Everyday Art Room now. I'd LOVE to hear what you think! If you have a comment, question or suggestion that you'd like to submit, please feel free to do so either here on this blog or here. New episodes will be coming your way every Thursday so if you'd like to stay up to date, drop us your email here. 

In the meantime, I've added the transcript from the show. This will help you in case you'd like to have a visual of those eight routines I cover. Don't take notes, just sit back, take a listen and know I got you covered. Enjoy and I'd love to hear what you think!

You know they say that wisdom comes with experience, but I’ve always been one to kind of test a good theory so let me share with you something that I did not too long ago that definitely showed that I am not wise beyond my art teachering years. It was the first day of Kindergarten. I got the great idea that on the very first day of art, with five year olds, we should paint. I know. You already know where this is going. Sadly, I didn’t own that crystal ball, so let me paint the picture for you. All of my students were starting to paint and it was going pretty well. Shockingly well. I should have taken that as a sign. All of a sudden, across the room, I hear one of my sweet students say, “Oh, oh. I got paint on me. I got paint on me.”
I can hear the panic tone in her voice. I went over as a good art teacher does, and I said the words that we all say, “It’s art class. It’s okay. You’re supposed to get a little bit messy.” I turned my back for just a second, and all of y’all know that’s all it takes especially with Kindergarten painting on the first day of school. In that moment I hear the entire class erupt in this sound, “Oh no.” When I turn around my sweet little friend is thrilled that she no longer has paint on her. She also is no longer wearing her top. That’s right. She’s topless.
Hopping up and down saying, “I’m clean. I’m clean now.” It’s before I can do or say anything else, I hear a tiny little voice from across the room that says, “I can see her niblets.” Ooh y’all. You would think wisdom of art teachering would have told me not to bust out those paints with Kindergarten on the first day of school, but you know what, that’s our reality. This is every day art room, and I’m Cassie Stephens.
Now what my nearly 20 years of art teachering should have told me is that on those first days, weeks, month of school, you need to really be working on establishing your art room routines, so today I thought I would share with you my eight art room routines for a super successful school year. These are my eight art room routines. This is what works best for me. I’m going to share those with you, but you need to keep an open mind and think about what works best for you. Think about it like this: I like to use the three s’s. Does this work best for my setup? Think about your classroom if you have one. Think about your cart if you’re using one. Think about the school or schools that you have to travel to. Is this best for my situation? My demographics, my school demographics. Is this the best thing for my students.
I’m going to share with you my eight art room routines. What I have found to work best for my set up, situation, and students. Keep an open mind, many of these might work for you but many of them might not. For that reason, you need to start by putting yourself in your students shoes. When I’m establishing my eight art room routines, I always do this every single year. I rework it, rethink it, and I put myself in my students shoes. The first thing, the first routine I establish with my students is how do I want my students to begin art? Think about it, do you go to your students classrooms? Do your students get dropped off by a classroom teacher? Do they walk themselves down independently as my students do? If that’s the case, how do you want them to approach art class? Because that is what’s going to set the tone for the rest of the art class.
My students know that because we’ve established a routine, and we’re going to reestablish it on that very first day and weeks of school, that I have a line of tape right outside my door. That line of tape is where they stand and wait to enter quietly. That’s routine number one. Think about how you want your students to approach art class. That will really set the tone. Thing number two is making an entrance. How do you want your students to enter your art room? Now I know that this seems really nit picky, but once again, this really sets the tone. Let me tell you why I’ve really had to think hard about how my students made an entrance. I used to hold the door open and my students would walk past me as they enter the art room. As they did it was like a barrage of questions. What are we doing today. I like your shoes. Did you get your haircut? Somethings different about you. By the time my students got into my art room and settled, I’d answered at least a dozen questions, and we already lost several minutes of art time.
Think about how you want them to walk in your room. Here’s what I do. Here’s what works for me. Before my students can even raise their hand or ask me what are we doing in art today, I greet them at the door with a, “Hello my most amazing artists.” They know to all respond, “Hello my most amazing art teacher.” Trust me that never gets old. I say to them, “How are you today,” and they say, “Ready to create.” This is our routine that we go through every single time. Not only does it set a really happy and excited tone, but it also gets the chit chat out of the way. They file in my room and then we can dive right in. Let’s talk about think number three.
When my students come into my room they do not go straight to desks or tables. Here’s why. I learned from experience that if my students go straight to tables and sit down, whatever is on that table becomes fair game and it becomes a battle of the stop quick notes. They always win. Trust me. I usually just end up losing my patience. For that reason, we have, some people call it circle time. I say, take a seat on the floor. I don’t have a fancy rug. I just have lines of tape on the floor. These lines of tape show my students exactly where to sit as far as creating nice straight rows. They know to go all the way down to the end of the row leaving no space in between you and your neighbors. That way we can all file in quickly and quietly to dive into circle time. In that time we talk about what we’re going to be learning, creating, doing in art class that day.
The next transition in routine, and this one is a real big one, the next routine is the gathering of supplies. Oh boy. I don’t think classroom teachers will ever understand just how much work we put into preparing, passing out, and getting students to gather up those supplies. Really establish that routine because it’s a big one. My students in my room, this is what works for my set up situation and students, my students know to go shopping at “a store”. I have a long cafeteria style table. I have it divided into sections by grade level with just a piece of tape right down the center of the table to establish that this is the first grader supply area, second, third and fourth. My students, once they’re given their “shopping supply list”, which is basically just me telling them what to pick up at the store, they know to go shopping at the store. Many supplies are already kept on the tables.
Things that we would need every day. Glue, pencils, scissors. That kind of thing, but the thing that’s specific to their art project, my students know their routing is to go collect those things at the store. Now, when my students go to their seats to start creating, I do have a seating chart. I believe firmly in a seating chart and here’s why. It’ll really help you number 1) learn your students names. One of the ways that I establish my seating chart is I think hard about my students. I’ve taught my students for many years and I know most of them very, very well. I know that if I pair my students up correctly that they are going to have a really successful art class. I use a lot of peer tutoring in my room, and it’s great to see kids who excel in some areas help their friends who might not, because then the roles are often switched. I have noticed that some of those kids who are great at weaving, might not be so great at drawing. They can offer help to those who need it.
It’s wonderful to see the kids working together. Not just sitting and hanging out with their buddies. That is why I always have a seating chart. Another great thing is is that if you want to offer an incentive to your students, offer a party or a celebration for good behavior, allowing days where they’re free to sit wherever they like with their friends, that’s a great thing too. Another routine is to establish where your students sit. Now it comes time for creating. Finally. It always seems like there’s just not enough time for that. If you’ve established your routines firmly, then your creating time is going to go so stinking well. You do need to talk to your students, as you guys know, about noise level. About movement within the art room. How much movement do you want them to have. Do they need to constantly get up and get supplies, or will you have somebody who’s in charge of gathering supplies for them.
Not only that, but how are your students going to ask for your help. I have a rule that my students are not allowed to get out of their seat, come up to me with big old painted hands, and tap me on my arm. That’s like my number one routine. We don’t need to be touching the Miss Stephens. My students know they stay in their seat and they raise their hand. These are some things that you might think gosh my students should already know that. Remember, these are routines that you need to establish. Assume that they don’t know these things. The most important routine is clean up. Whoo that can make or break an art class experience. Think about how you want to signal to your students that it’s clean up time. How do you want them to go about cleaning up. Will there be certain people who have certain clean up jobs. Will they each be responsible for cleaning up their own individual area.
These are routines that you need to establish so that clean up time does not become mass chaos. Finally, our last routine to establish is how you want to close your art class. How do you want to end an art experience with your students. For me this is just as important as starting your art class. Remember that really positive and uplifting greeting I gave my students at the beginning of class, I want them to leave with that really great and happy feeling. We do this in a couple of ways just depending on time. One closing activity that we do is a game called the smartest artist. In this game I review simple things that my students have learned. How to mix the color green, what are supplies did we use today, and with that I can establish where my students are as far as what they’ve learned during that particular art class.
It’s the smartest artist. It’s a super fun game, but if we’ve run out of time, one simple thing I like to leave my students with is this: I’ve shown my students how to sign I love you. As they’re leaving my room, that’s what we do. I love my students. I love creating with them, and I want them to leave my room with that warm, fuzzy feeling. Those are my eight routines. That is a lot to go through during your first days and weeks of art class. Don’t expect them to get these eight routines right away. It’s going to take a lot of rehearsing and reviewing, and going over it, over it, over them again until one day, magically it’s working. You might be thinking, how am I going to establish all of these routines in a matter of a few art classes.
You can go about this a couple of ways. One of my favorite ways to share with my students my expectations and my routines is to do it in video form. Think about a clever way where you can create a video that your students can watch that’ll show them just how to gather up supplies, or how to walk in the art room. An idea that I did last year, was I brought in my specials team to act those things out with me. My students absolutely loved seeing their other teachers cut up just as much as their art teacher in this video and they really learned a lot. Even having the students stand up and act out different routines or situations will really help them to understand what you’re expecting from them. If only I had really thought that through on that very first day of Kindergarten with painting, topless. But I digress.
Thanks guys for letting me share with you my eight art room routines for a super successful school year.
Tim Bogatz: Hello this is Tim Bogatz, host of Art Ed Radio. We hope you’re enjoying the debut episode of everyday art room with Cassie Stephens. New episodes will be arriving every Thursday, so make sure you subscribe to this podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. If you would like to contact Cassie or submit a question for the mailbag, you can email your comments and questions to everydayartroom@theartofed.com. Finally, The Art of Ed is focusing on back to school week. All of next week and throughout the month of August, check out the site for podcasts, videos, articles, resources and so much more that will help you start your year off as strong as possible. You can find it all at theartofed.com. Now, let’s get you back to Cassie as she opens up the mailbag.
Cassie Stephens: Now it’s time to dip into the mailbag. My first question is: Do your students wear aprons? Well that would’ve come in pretty handy with Kindergarten and painting. If so, what kind? Once again, you got to think about your set up, your situation, and your students. Thinking about those things, I have tried every single apron with my students under the sun. We’ve tried t shirts, and button down shirts, we’ve done the plastic pull em over your head aprons, the ones that go all the way down to your wrists that make the kids all hot and sweaty. What we are currently using, I think we’re going to stick with, are canvas kid sized aprons. It’s funny. I actually bought these on accident thinking they were full size aprons that I was going to tie dye for a workshop, but when I got them and noticed that they were miniature sized, I decided to take them to school.
The kids really love these aprons because they look like little miniature bonafide artists when wearing them. I keep my aprons on hooks over in our painting area. My students who are in kindergarten through second grade, they don’t have an option of whether or not they can or cannot wear an apron. It’s mandatory if we’re getting messy. My older students, it’s paint at your own risk. You can wear one if you like, but you’re old enough to make that choice. When my students put their aprons on, they simply pull them over their head, bring the strings that are in the back around to their front by their belly button and tie. If they don’t know how to tie, they just phone a friend. They really love wearing these aprons, and it has really made it so a lot of wardrobes are saved. It also helps if you use paint that is water soluble so as not to damage your students clothing.
My next question is kind of along the same line. It’s this: How do your clothes not get messy. You are always dressed up to teach art. Friend, if you could see me close up you would notice that my clothes are absolutely covered in a rainbow of paint, and clay, and glue, and some other mysterious items that I can’t quite identify. One way that I keep my clothing from getting too messy is I wear an apron most of the time as well. I also purchase the grand bulk of my clothing from thrift stores. This makes it so if I do damage my clothes in some way, it isn’t a financial strain. I can simply renovate that clothing, up cycle it somehow, or give it back to the thrift store. Here you are, a masterpiece splatted in paint. Enjoy. That’s one way that I manage to salvage my wardrobe.
It has been so much fun talking with you guys today about the eight art room routines for a super successful school year. Remember, when you’re thinking through your eight art room routines, consider the three S’s. What works best for your set up, your situation, and your students. With that in mind, plan through your eight art room routines. Number one, how do you want your students to have art. Will they be coming to you, will you be going to them? How is it going to look. Number two, how will your students make an entrance. Will you greet them, will they greet you, what’s the plan here? Number three, do your students, when they walk in, will they be sitting on the floor, and if so what will that look like? Will they be going to their seats.
Number four, how will your students gather their supplies? Will a table captain do it, will they do it independently? Next up, number five, seating. Will your students have specific places to sit or will they get to choose where they want to sit? Number six, what is your creativity time going to look like and if your students need help, how are they going to ask you or appear? Number seven, clean up. That’s the one routine we really need to establish so make sure you think that one through, and also that’s the one you’re going to have to review over and again with your kids. The last one is closing. How do you want to end your art class?
Thank you so much for joining me today. I’ve had the best time chatting with you. This is Everyday Art Room. I’m Cassie Stephens.
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Friday, July 28, 2017

DIY: Wooden Oar to Paint Brush Decor!

The other day, I was perusing the isles of my local big box craft store with the previous night's Art Teacherin' Book Club on my mind. We were joined by the amazing Barney Saltzberg, author of Beautiful Oops (among 62 other titles!) You can still view his live chat here. He said some things that really stayed with me: "You need to build your imagination muscle. Don't look for ideas, they are already there!" He shared with us that "art finds him" and that he has built his imagination muscle up so much that he can see what most people fail to. 
With those words ringing in my years, I stopped in my tracks when I spotted these oars on the Wooden-Thingies-You-Can-Paint isle (actual isle name). I was like, "Big Box Craft Store, you say Oar, I say Paint Brush Decor!" And marched outta there with a cart full o' oars faster than you can say, "take my fistful of coupons and can I score that teacher discount, please?!"
Now just HOW I was gonna paint them was still yet to be determined. In fact, my first attempt was what I'd like to call shabby sh** (just a step above shabby chic). Then I remembered Lichtenstein's painting Brushstroke. And I was totally inspired. 
So I went the cartoon-style route. It really made the painting process so much easier. Lay down flat areas of color, allow to dry and then add the high- and low-lights using black and white. 
Once I had these bad boys in my cart, I was so excited to see more inspiration in the mundane. Before I knew it, I had my cart full of Wooden-Thingies-You-Can-Paint...but decided to return them to their shelves for another day. One project at a time, right? My hoarders-therapist (aka the hubs) woulda been so proud. 
Now, I will admit, when I got them home, and these oars looked every bit like an oar, I was fearful I wouldn't be able to pull this off. Then I happened to look at the paint brushes I'd been using and realized that they had the long handled look as well. With a little skillful painting, I might be able to transform them. 
My name is Cassie Stephens. I used to suffer from Painting-Dysfunction. Every time I approached a surface for painting, I would convince myself that I would create a complete mess. It was not until I discovered alcohol relaxed and realized that I could always just paint over it, that I was able to paint with ease. Now I have no problem consuming alcohol enjoying the process and painting without worry. It's just a canvas or a Wooden-Thingie-You-Can-Paint, after all! Don't like it? Paint over it!
Blah, blah, blah, here I am doing the boring part of laying down the color. 
By the time I'd finished painting the paint portion of the brush, the handle was dry enough for me to add the white and black accents. They have a British and French accent, by the way, respectively. 
Ta-dah! I am really so stoked about these, y'all don't even know. I'm excited to paint the secondary colors and hang them as a color wheel in my art room...stay tuned!
 Did I mention I was stoked? I'm a little stoked. 
 Now that these guys are finished, I'll have to stroll down that Wooden-Thingies (ahem) isle once more. Thank you, Barney, for the inspiration. See art. Look for it. It's everywhere, y'all! 
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 32 CLEAN UP

Ah, yes. Clean up. You know, everyone dreads clean up: the kids because they are so into what they are creating and me because I have a different idea of clean up than my students (ahem). I've come up with some things that work and I've slapped 'em together in this here Art Teacherin' 101.

Also in this video, you'll see a clip of my students participating in something I've been calling The Clean Up Contest. This has been working fabulously with all of my classes, grades kinder thru fourth. My room is left spotless, the kids all clean, working together to make their table look the "even better than how you found it". My big rule is that they must do it silently...which really cuts down on the silly and helps them focus on tidying. 

I'll also be sharing with you how I do the Smartest Artist. This is a simple game that all of my students love.

Please share your tips and tricks on Clean Up Time! I know I'm always looking for ways to make this process more streamlined. 
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Monday, January 2, 2017

In the Art Room: Candy Heart Sculptures!

Hello, Cutie Pies and Love Bugs, won't you Be Mine on this Candy Heart Sculpture adventure? I'm so excited (and maybe a pinch sugar'ed up from one too many candy hearts) about this project I've got planned for my fourth graders. I've been kicking this idea around for sometime...but there were some issues I thought the kids might struggle with. After finding solutions that will make their sculpture making adventure a little easier, I put it all together in this here video.
To make your own Candy Heart Sculpture, you'll need the following: 

* Tag or poster board, one 2" X 24" and two 8" squares
* Scissors
* Stapler
* Tape
* Rigid Wrap Plaster Cloth from Activa Products 
Approximately 24" of wrap per student. The wrap comes in a width of 6" so I cut it in half for this project. My plan is to have the kids do the cutting when they finish their armature.
* Tempra paint
 I played around with a couple dimensions with the heart and decided that the 2" edge would be the best. It's the most accurate appearing ratio and it requires a lot less plaster wrap. Having the kids create those tabs of tape and fill in the gaps with excess tape will really help when they are creating their armature.
 I also played with several ideas for putting the wording on the heart. I first toyed with the idea of just letting them write on their hearts but my students do not have the best of handwriting, not even gonna candy coat it for ya (pun intended). Giving them a guide like the sheet which will ultimately become their carbon copy paper seemed like the best solution. 
I will definitely keep y'all posted on how my fourth graders do. While their projects dry, they'll be working on another sweet project that I'll be certain to share with you soon. Check ya later, Love Bugs!
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Friday, December 30, 2016

DIY: Marimekko Memory Game Wallhanging

I am a complete, total and utter procrastinator. I always have the best of intentions in mind but I rarely follow through with my ideas. I have this habit of psyching myself out that a task is too daunting; too difficult for my skill set (or lack thereof); too time-consuming; you name it, it's an excuse I've put to good use. One of my resolutions over my break has been to do the following: relax (things have been too crazy for me and I don't handle crazy well) and stop putting things on the freaking back burner. That burner is boilin' over! If you follow me on Insta, you know I've been hitting the sewing machine hard with that crazy eyeball dress (and matching jewelry, stay tuned!), a Mary Blair-inspired quilting project and this here Marimekko wall hanging. I've had the idea to create this bad boy since I scooped up all things Marimekko this spring at Target. Well, I can finally scratch this one off my To-Do!
I have a habit of buying frames whenever I find unique ones at the thrift store. I always spray paint them a satin black so they create the illusion of matching. I have an enormous stockpile which comes in super handy when I get an idea like this one. I remember picking up this one a couple of years ago because I liked the rectangular shape and the angle of the frame edge. You can see it better below.
If you go here, you can see what used to hang in this place at the end of our upstairs hallway. 
When Target was selling all things Marimekko this spring, I'm not ashamed to admit that I went bananas. Marimekko has been my muse since I discovered the fabric design company many years ago. If you know anything about the brand then you know their prices are pretty steep. So when a place like Target partners with them and sells their wares at affordable prices, well, you go bananas. I scooped up a couple of these memory games. One I gifted to my best bud and the other I kept.
But what to do with the game? Selfishly, I didn't want to take it to school and chance it getting ruined (sorry not sorry). And the hubs and I are more of a Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens kinda card game playing types, not memory games, no matter how cute. So I got pulled all of my thrift store frames outta the closet and found one that seemed to work the best. 

And that was last spring. 

Did I mention that I have issues with procrastination? Yeah. Obvi. 
 So the other night, I decided to scratch this one off my list. I had a large sheet of cardboard in the garage that I cut to fit the back of the frame. Then I started to lay out the design. 
Once I got it all in place, I started to hot glue the back of the pieces. Purists will not be happy with me about this one...but I will get so much more enjoyment out of my memory set now that it is out of the box and up on my wall. 
To secure the cardboard in place, I did add hot glue but I also added tape. Then I hammered in one of those wall-hanger-thingies and was ready to put it up!

I hung it at the end of the hall that leads down these steps to our bonus room...which has become my crafting and recording-of-lessons area. 
For a more thorough tour of this room, visit here. And, yes, my Christmas decor is still up. I don't like to take things down until after the first. The sparkle makes me so happy!
The large painting on the left was created by me years ago and is a direct copy of a Marimekko design. In fact, you can see my much loved copy of a Marimekko book on the far right under the lady vase. 
Yesterday, before heading out to catch up with a long lost friend, I realized I even match my decor. Wow. 
Speaking of thrift stores, it's there and estate sales where I find my favorite things. Oh and the sale room at Anthropologie (I don't even bother with the rest of the store!). 
 All the gory details on these finds here
 Speaking of Marimekko, these large plates are from the Target line as well. I waited until they were half off and I'm so glad I scooped them up. I need to eventually hang them but for now they are happy to be propped right here...just above the map I trash picked from school (which hides all of my hubs drum gear and our big-butt television. Yes, we still have one of those). 
And there you have it! I'm so glad I stopped putting at least one thing off, I'm so happy with how this turned out. 
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

What the Art Teacher Wore #171

Happy Holi-daze! These photos are completely random and outta order which is fitting for this week, don't you think? disco top: UAL; Christmas tree skirt to lady skirt: found at Big Lots, made by me last year with my tacky teacher buds; tights: Amazon; silver chucks: Journeys; big red bow turn hat: Hobby Lobby

Hello, Craziest Time of the Year! I know I'm not alone when I say WOW. Could things be any more bananas right now? And yet, would we really have it any other way? I think not. 

Adding to the craziness, I also decided to start sharing short videos on Instagram with y'all this week. Stay tuned for more of those. And if you've missed any, I'll be archiving them here

I also hosted my first Facebook Live chat this week! It is still up in case you missed. I'll be back this Wednesday at 8pm CST to chat about classroom management...something I know I'll be cracking down on after the holidays. Hope you'll join me! 

I'm still in school until Wednesday...here's to makin' it, y'all! 
Last year, my kindergarten teacher friend Heather (left) and my second grade teacher buddy Bethany made these skirts from tree skirts found at Big Lots. We wear them every year for our annual Tacky Holiday Sweater day! Aren't they the cutest? We're so famous for our tacky, we were even featured on BuzzFeed
Fourth grade is rockin' and wrapping up their Faux Stained Glass project. I am so in love with their work!
Light Up Dress Ain't Got Nuthin on No Elf: Seriously, after showing the kids the Elf Cam 2016, they were so not interested in my light up dress. They're all, "nice but WHERE IS ESMERELDA?!" sweater: vintage, thrifted; light up dress: made by me, details here; shoes: Aldo
Second grade is weaving right now and it's just the most perfect project for this time of year. I see my second graders at the very end of the day when we are both tired. For the last week, we've been siting on the floor in a "Weaving Circle" while chatting, reading books and helping others learn to tie knots. It's just been the best way to end our day!
Polka Dotted Holidays! I so love this noisy dotted dress. It was a lucky estate sale score and it's one of my faves. sweater: Target; dress and brooch: vintage; boots: Frye...paint splatters by me
This week, I went LIVE on Facebook! If you weren't able to join the fun, it is currently archived here. I'll be back this Wednesday at 8pm CST to chat about Classroom Management. I think that is on everyone's mind at this time in the school year. I hope you'll join the fun!
I forgot to snap a photo on this day...but I did make a run to the grocery store. I was stopped by one woman who said, "My nana had a tree skirt in that same print!". I didn't have the hear to tell her that I probably was wearing her nana's tree skirt. Then a dude stopped me and said, "OMG, I was so going to wear that exact same outfit!" I told him it was a good thing he didn't seeing as how I looked so cute. Nobody wants to be the loser in a Who Wore It Best, right? 
First grade had a blast painting their Bebo-inspired birds. I heard comments like, "I'm a serious artist!" and "I love painting" the entire time we were working. It was so sweet. 
Friday Funday: I think everyone's schedule is cray right now what with programs, plays, etc. I've decided just to let it go and ride the crazy rollercoaster. Having a wacky outfit certainly helps. dress: made by me, here; tights: Amazon; candy cane chucks: Marshall's years ago
One of my favorite things ever is to host a craft night. I try to do one every coupla months but life just got so crazy this summer and fall, I just couldn't squeeze it into my schedule. I was determined to make a Christmas Craft Night a thing this year. So I through out an impromptu invite and we had a house full of food, booze, crafts and laughs. We missed y'all who couldn't make it and so sorry we didn't get a photo with everyone! Our Christmas Crafts of Holidays Past here and here
 The next morning, I went to my first ornament exchange at my friend Camilla's home. I had the best time opening ornaments from these sweet ladies. What a wonderful way to share our talents! You can see my ornaments here
I hope y'all have a fabulous week! May it be full of friends and fun. 
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