First days of School

The new school year is fast approaching. Let’s share our ideas so we all get off to a strong start. I’ll start:

I’ve got a 2” thick folder of ideas, but I’m still nervous for the big day (as are the students). I teach High School Art, but many of these ideas can be used or adapted for younger grades.

1. Greet students at door with a hello, a handshake and a designated seat. It can be pulling a handwritten seat # or table # out of a hat, or a deck of cards- 36 seats, 9 tables with 4 chairs? 36 cards- table 1 would be the 4 aces, table 2- the 2 of spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs, etc.

2. Have a “Do Now” or “getting to know you” worksheet. Keep those hands busy.

3. Introduce yourself  (you as a teacher, you as a person, your enthusiasm for the g year, what you value for your students as individuals, what you value for your class as a community, The honestly and fairness they can expect from you, including grading policies)

4. Introduce simple expectations based on common courtesy and common sense. Show examples of artwork from previous years, or your artwork, or both.

5. Describe the room- major areas, accessible art supplies,  cleaning supplies and storage areas for their work- and related procedures. Where to put backpacks and jackets, teacher areas which are off limits without permission.

6. Make Name Tents- demonstrate the size and type of lettering to use- show how chisel point makers can be used for thick and thin lines. (Collect at end of class and distribute the next day)

7. Introduce classroom rules- seek student explanation of what a rule would “look, sound and feel like” in the classroom. Start with asking students what are school rules, or rules from other classes.

8. Teach initial procedures for setting up, working with, and cleaning up for the first project. (Name tents!)

9. Engaging ART (content) activity. (Icebreaker, group project, individual project)- see list at end of this list 🙂

10. Communication and forms for parents and students

11. Closing: Students discuss what they liked, learned, noticed, etc. Start with a “Turn and Talk”, end with a class share-out, maybe a “whip around” where each student shares ONE thing, or no more than 5 words. Comment on student effort, good work habits and positive behaviors you wish to reinforce. Review relevant clean up procedure.


1. On each table, a selection of art reproductions (postcards or calendar pages). Each student in that group selects a picture that has meaning to them, and then share with their table group their story and why they picked that image.

2. Make an art folder from 18”x24” construction paper, one color per class (ie, first period makes red folders, second period makes orange folders, etc)

3. Expressive self portrait in color.

4. Zentangle- trace your hand

5. Variety of line- Kandinsky “roll a dice” activity (internet cuteness), or step by step, you calling out directions. Draw in oil pastel, fill in with watercolor.

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