Rules and Expectations
Art class rules and expectations are modeled from mentor art teachers, school-wide programs and shared insights within arts educator associations. In Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, an outline is given for creating a studio culture in the classroom. Because the art room should promote work-flow, rules and expectations are derived from the following categories: physical space, atmospheric space and social climate (teacher-student and peer interactions).
Harlacher writes that rules should total between three and five, be worded positively, and use simple language. (p. 19) With these parameters in mind, rules and expectations for my art students are:
Arrive prepared and ready.
This rule can be a conversation starter that encourages students to set aside life dramas when entering the art room. Showing up is ‘half the battle.’ Being prepared and ready is a state of mind. Students can practice and eventually master readiness as they progress through the grades.
Share art spaces: work area, noise levels and supplies.
This rule reminds students that work tables, art supplies and atmospheric noises are all shared with classmates and the other classes at different time slots. The expectations are that art supplies shall be respected for personal use, and for the next student. Tables will be clean and dry for the next class. Students will agree or find a happy medium for music or ambience during individual work time.
Respect personal physical and thinking spaces.
Students will refrain from inappropriate bodily contact. They will also refrain from dominating the auditory space such as to cause other students to be unable to employ their own thinking. Respecting others’ spaces includes not subjecting them to harmful language.
Ideas are welcome in art class.
The operational definition of this rule is that there are no ‘dumb ideas’. Students will engage in respectful behavior towards each other that is free from ridicule, ‘gas-lighting’ and verbal abusiveness.
School art is public art.
This rule can be used as a conversation opener about what is deemed inappropriate art in public school. The teacher can explain that students will refrain from drawing overtly and covertly; private parts, drugs, violence, hidden messages and other visual representations that are contrary to behavior listed in the school rules. This is also an opportunity to teach about the social significance of visual imagery.
Procedures for specialized classes like art, music and physical education tend to follow norms that have been developed by schools for project and experiential-based learning. Three procedures for art students are articulated below.
Procedure for Starting Class:
1. Enter the room quietly.
2. At the bell work table, pick up one paper or other supply as directed on the white board.
3. Set your books down underneath your table, quietly.
4. Take your seat and follow the bell work directions. You should spend ten minutes on the exercise.
5. Turn in your work to the folder labeled with your class period, and wait quietly for the teacher to introduce the next activity.
During class time, the teacher also creates structure by asking students to stay in their own seats for independent work time. They are to raise their hands when they have a question or want individual help.
Art Supplies General Procedures (The teacher will demonstrate specifically for each type of art supply.)
1. Pick up art supplies in small groups.
2. Respect physical space while moving around the room. Your classmates don’t want to be bumped, and have paint spill on their clothes, for example.
3. Treat art supplies like they are your own.
4. Practice safe art making. Art supplies don’t belong on skin or ingested.
5. Cleaning-up is also done in small groups to maintain physical space.
6. Art supplies will be put neatly away to their assigned place.
7. Tables are wiped clean with damp paper towels. Each student is responsible for their work area.
Art supplies are the main area of classroom specific areas of procedures and structure. The teacher clearly demonstrates expectations about picking up supplies, and usually has students go to the back table in smaller groups in order to keep traffic from getting congested. Students are to refrain from distracting other students when collecting art supplies and reference materials. For clean-up, the teacher again demonstrates expectations about putting supplies away, cleaning paint brushes, manners at the sink, and wiping down tables. Students are usually dismissed at the end of the class period by table, after the teacher has inspected for cleanliness and verified that supplies are put away properly.
Completed Work Procedure
1. Students are assigned a large portfolio folder and cubby space. Works in-progress are to be stored there. Exceptions are large or three-dimensional works that will have an assigned space.
2. Regular-sized art works are turned in, when completed, to the in-box.
3. Bell work and book work projects are turned in to your class folder, located on the same credenza as the in-box.
4. Digital works are turned-in electronically to your class folder on the server.
When assignments become due, students who did not use their time wisely are expected to complete their work either during study hall, after school or as homework. Students will be given time at the end of semesters to revisit artworks, make changes or finish to demonstrate additional learning.
An effective reinforcement system is designed by first identifying motivators that the students respond to (Harlacher, p. 61).
For my own student teaching, I relied heavily on positive reinforcement. Especially for art, which is subjective, the students responded well to me telling them clearly when they did well or what they tried hard on. The students tended towards self-criticism and hadn’t practiced participating in art discussions. Clear and positive instructions about art participation (how to talk about art, how to behave in art class, and how to put acceptable effort into projects) were appreciated by the students.
Rewards can be drawn from intrinsic motivators. If students complete the assignment using the techniques that are being taught, then they may use free-draw time to use techniques of their choosing. Further, the assignment may depict a certain graphic or genre that might not appeal to all students. Students that follow the visual arts criteria may be rewarded with added responsibility to transfer the assignment to a subject or topic of their choosing. This may also be viewed as independent work time privileges.
Harlacher (p. 56) showed how tickets could be turned into school currency for pride clothing, parking pass, school supplies, etc. For art class, a portion of the supply budget might be used to offer quality colored pencils and other high interest items to redeem with tickets. A long-term reward system will be designed based on what the school will allow me to offer the students, and the sort of large long-term goal the class is motivated for.
There are several strategies available to actively engage students for learning, which is an important component to classroom management. According to Marzano, Pickering and Heflebower in The Highly Engaged Classroom, the following strategies should be utilized daily and when opportunities arise:
• Friendly Controversy
• Unusual Information
• Peer-to-Peer Positivity
• Teacher-Student Positivity
• Connecting to Students’ Lives
• Verbal Feedback
• Physical Movement
• Track Progress
• Self-Efficacy Examples
• Elements of School-wide Program
Another question that Heflebower encourages teachers to ask themselves is, “Is this important?” For art curriculum, I foresee that this question must be addressed multiple times per day. On a broad scale, art class may be considered an “easy A” or a class with lesser expectations that core classes. Within the classroom, students may be divided into two groups; those that like art and intrinsically view the importance, and those who take the class for the required credit only.
Within the classroom and particular lessons, art exercises may also be viewed as unnecessary and without valuable criteria. Excellence may be looked down upon by students and their parents.
Luckily, my education at Minneapolis College of Art + Design addressed this category of issues. First, we can connect to students’ lives by discussing the universality of visual language. Historical artifacts from various cultures appeal to affinities that students have within their existing vernaculars.
We can also acknowledge that visual clutter does exist in popular culture. Many examples of art and advertising, including media, communicates nothing interesting. One component of design thinking is to think critically about messaging through visual imagery in our media-drenched society. Cause-and-effect discussions can be explored on the topics of meaningful versus irrelevant visual messages.
I appreciate the information about making transitions smooth and engaging. For presenting new content, I enjoy seeking out unusual information, as well as finding relevance to students’ lives. Personal stories and self-directed humor are things that I have woven into art history lessons.
I am especially interested in incorporating physical movement into my art classes. Frankly, art making is easier when using a standing work station. Drawing and painting requires the use of full arm movement, especially elbows. Also, standing helps keep your eyes further away from the page. This helps avoid the habit of working too long on teeny-tiny details, and forgetting to look at the entire picture.
An effective discipline plan clearly states rules, consequences and rewards (Wong, p. 149). Teachers should reinforce desirable behavior first, before moving on to consequences if the student persists (Harlacher, p. 87). In Designing Effective Classroom Management, Harlacher describes the management hierarchy as a weighted triangle. The bottom level calls for reinforcement strategies such as reinforcing desired behavior, prompting and positive motivating. If that fails to decrease the misbehavior, the next step is to utilize negative punishment. Harlacher describes negative punishment as removing desirable items or pleasant stimuli (p. 87). If, by documentation, the misbehavior persists, the top tier can be used judiciously. Positive punishment is the application of unpleasant stimuli.
The two types of consequences are reinforcement and punishment. To positively reinforce, a teacher would add praise or awards to increase desired behavior. To negatively reinforce, the teacher would reward by removing something undesirable (like shortening an assignment). To positively punish, the teacher adds something undesirable like extra homework, detention, etc. To negatively punish, the teacher removes something desirable like taking away recess, etc. (Harlacher, p. 86).
For art classes, consequences are tailored towards the particular assignment and medium. Most disruptions are related to improper art supply use and individual behaviors. Redirection and re-teaching usually resolve these situations. Positive consequences involve greater creative freedoms, increased praise and leadership roles in the classroom. For younger students, a negative consequence system might be to give a yellow ‘warning ticket’ so that the teacher doesn’t pause instruction (Wong, p. 155). For older students, an action plan would be appropriate for more severe and consistent problems. (Wong, p. 159). Negative consequences should avoid publicly embarrassing or degrading students. Most importantly, consequences are consistent and predictable in order for students to feel self-efficacy and meet expectations.
Harlacher, J. E., & Marzano, R. J. (2015). Designing effective classroom management. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research.
Hetland, L. (2013). Studio thinking 2: The real benefits of visual arts education (Second edition.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Heflebower, T. (2011). The highly engaged classroom. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.
Stronge, J. H. (2007). Qualities of effective teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Wong, H. K., Wong, R. T., & Seroyer, C. (2009). The first days of school: how to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.