Friday, August 3, 2012

Organization in the Art Room

I am an art teacher, I keep no secrets about that, and last year I was moved to a new school (there was a shuffle for everyone, I was not alone) and every time I'm in a new classroom (this is the 5th classroom I was in in 4 years) it presents challenges of organization, layout, and how to make things work for me. I did not like how I had my classroom last year, I made it as fun as I could but there were just too many things that frustrated me. Plus, I has to organize EVERYTHING stuff was just thrown around. So over the summer I thought long and hard and probably perused Pinterest a bit too much.

Picture Heavy (and word heavy!) Post after the Jump

 So last year my room was pretty boring, I didn't even take a picture of it. I'll draw a picture of the room (not to scale):
I have 8 tables in the big part of my room with stools that were just in 2 rows of 4. Meh.

This year I really thought long and hard about what did and did not work for me in my room. First the things I didn't change: my cupboards are still organized fine, my storage room, while a little messy is fine, everything is still where it should be. The kiln room was well, it's nice and clean and organized. What I really changed was the big part of my room with the tables and organizing frequently used student materials.

Here is a big view of my room, this was taken at the outside door of my classroom. Tables have colored signs above them, I do ROY G. BV then black and white. Each table has 4 stools at them. So this year I did a modified "U" shape with the tables instead of 2 rows with 4 tables horizontally.
You can see the back of the "U" in this photo. There is enough room for me to walk around the tables, teach at the whiteboard, and for there to be a line of children going to the door. The pink chart is a behavior log for the classes, when there is a class that spells "ROY G BIV" then they get a class prize and they only get a letter if they keep the "ART" on the board by not being too loud. I also have a "Helper Table" sign on the board with all the table colors and a chart with crayons under it so I can keep track of which tables help me with every class every week. I had a lot of students say I pick the same kids to pass things out, so now they can't complain.
This is the back of my classroom, I have a drying rack for large artwork and then last year I bought (and never used) the stack of paper holders on the desk next to the drying rack. Well that stack will hold tiny wet art to dry because the big drying rack SUCKS at holding little things. I always had stuff dropping onto the floor then getting lost or misplaced. Not this year! The grey door is my kiln room and then I used electrical tape and construction paper on my office door. I don't actually use my office, but there is an extra computer in there for students to use and a whole wall of deep cubbies I use for storing my personal things I'm not currently using for teaching and I have a bunch of empty ones this year I'll be allowing my students to use when we are doing our clay projects. There is also a high desk in between those two doors and that is my "Time Out" spot for students. Inside the desk I have a behavior reflection sheet for them to fill out.
In this view of the whiteboard you can see another small table under the Nyan Cat head with five bins. Each one of those is labeled Monda-Friday and has large folders folders for every class in it. Inside every folder is 8 pieces of construction paper that correspond with table colors. It helps keep work separated by table color and easier to pass out. Next to Nyan Cat are posters of Thinking Maps (really big in my district and I am hoping to use them more) and my ART rules poster.

Nothing very exciting in this picture except the stools. My room is not made for tiny ones and I teach Kindergarten thru 8th grade. I did not have the stools last year. Kind of a mess, so I bought foldable and hangable ones and now the students will actually be able to wash their hands!
Here is the front view of my desk, the area I want to focus on is actually the filing cabinet on the right. I never use my fling cabinet. The metal portion that is used to hold folders I have to buy myself and I have other things I want to spend my money on. So this year I have labeled the drawers by grade levels (K &1, 2 & 3,  4 & 5, 6,7,& 8) and I'm going to put materials for all the projects in the drawers. I used to lay everything out on the counter but then when students line up they mess with EVERYTHING or during clean-up things would get wet. Now there is nothing on the counter so out of sight and out of mind. The file stand on top of the cabinet is for my middle schoolers, it has a folder for rubrics, art history homework sheet, and grade checks for my athletes because they ALWAYS forget theirs.
I also have a rug in my room this year for my little ones to gather on, there is a basket of books and fun things to do when kids finish early under the table and also pillows hidden under the table.

This is my cleaning station that I am ever so excited about. Brooms, dustpans, garbage can and  buckets with spray bottles, sponges, and rags in them. One for every table. My biggest pet peeve last year was the cleaning up. I had huge sponges (you can see them on the top in the clear bin), I swear to you you can take a shower under them they hold so much water, the students aren't good at remembering to squeeze the water out and I would have flooded counters, floors, and tables. NEVER AGAIN. Spray bottles and 2 tiny sponges to wash the tables and then a microfiber cloth to dry them and I'm good to go. The spray bottles were actually full of Spic and Span but empty spray bottles are expensive to buy and really cheaply made. The Spic and Span was 97 cents a bottle and the bottle is amazing, I just emptied out the chemicals into a bin at home and using it to clean my house. The garbage can is for a student to go around to tables and help pick up scraps.
On the left is a drying rack I bought from IKEA for 10 bucks. Sponges and rags can be laid on top of it so they can dry out in between classes.
  This is my desk area, I know no teacher desks is all the rage but with 900 kids a week I need my desk, it's my area of peace. I just bought the chair this year, it's super comfy. I have my own tiny trash and inside the desk where a computer tower would be is my copy paper, it fits perfect there and is easy to grab when I need it. The paper sorter in front of my desk is full of pre-cut construction paper for ease of grabbing and on top of it is my turn in basket. It's not in the photo but I have another basket the is the "No Name, No Fame" basket I will put work with no name, even though there is a reminder in the turn in basket for names and teachers. 
I also have a coat rack and storage ottoman for my personal things, there is really no place to put a coat or purse. 
I also love the "Hi" sign at the top of my desk..a student made that for me out of melted crayon last year for teacher appreciation week. <3 p="p">
Another view: those pinboards will be full of student drawings by the end of the year, that's where I put my fun gifts from students. I moved my paper cutter too, to the front of my desk because it was in my office room and I didn't like not being able to see my class when I needed to cut paper because I miscounted. 
The little white board is a weekly schedule so I can put special things on it...I used to make a paper one but I like how this is reusable.

 Here is a close-up of my desk. I used to have all the stuff that are in the crates on top of my desk but I never felt like I had room to work, so I moved that table in front of my desk and placed the crate there as shelves. I have to reach a bit more for certain things but I love how clear my desk is. The mini tool chest in the top left holds push pins, staples, paper clips and more. The silver organizer holds my master copes binder, emergency subplan binder, and my weekly binder for lesson planning, grading, and seating charts. I have my prize vases underneath that, and then I have my snacks, tea, and hot water maker on the bottom left. 
I have two lights on my desk too. The on my desk is a sunlight lamp...I have no windows, I work in a dark purple room with no windows, it actually messes with my sleeping and then I have a regular desk lamp above that because I have a "wonderful" piece of technology in my room. It's a motion sensor that turns the lights off to conserve energy...but when you are working nicely at your desk grading during your prep after 3 minutes your lights turn off. I literally have to get up and walk across the room to get my lights to go back on. So now I have lamps.
One of my goals this year is to have my desk clear at the end of every work day for some peace of mind.

I know this was long winded but I hope it gives you all a better idea of how I think for my art room and gives you ideas too.


  1. I rarely have found anything intelligent to say on your entries this year, but I want you to know that *I* do still take the time to read them. I hope others do as well, because you have a lot of interesting ideas.

  2. I have enjoyed reading your blog. I came here looking for ways to organize my teacher work area. I don't have a desk due to none being left at my school and while that is still on my wish list I wanted to find a way to organize my teacher area. I have a kidney table that has become my desk but still find that I have scattered everything everywhere and want to find some way to organize myself. Your blog has definitely given me some idea into how I hope to have my teacher area looking. Thank you