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Arts & Activities - Page 10

Stepping Stones Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks in art education into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of hot topics and research in the field today. Never Waste Your Prep Period Again recently saw a sign that said “Breaks are the Best Part of Working,” and it made me smile. At some point everyone does look forward to his or her lunch break. Sometimes we look forward to breaks more than we even want to admit! For teachers, however, it seems there is never truly a break, for whenever we have extra time, we must use it wisely to prepare for our teaching. Unfortunately, many teachers don’t manage their time efficiently during a prep or planning period and hence always feel behind and stressed. As art teachers, we must be even more diligent during our prep time at work because so much of our work is hands-on. These seven tricks will hopefully help you work smarter during the small breaks in your day, in order to help you do your job well but also have a life outside of work. by Jessica Balsley I NEVER SAY “LATER” One great trick I recently heard is to never look at a tool, for example, and say, “I’ll put that away later.” The energy you just spent thinking about it, could have easily been used to put the tool away. Act immediately and act quickly, and you will find less tasks hanging over your head, which will give you more time to do the tasks you need to. 5 nized teachers I know structure their weekly prep periods into predicable patterns, and although I pride myself on being organized, this is a concept I am still working on. For example, on Mondays you could always 6 PLAN OUT YOUR PLAN TIME Some of the most orga- work like a game. Set a timer when you have a task to complete. This will assist you in not getting sidetracked by other things and help you focus on only the task at hand. Even if you only have 10 minutes between classes, surely you can accomplish something in that time frame. MAKE SMARTER LISTS I keep a larger list of everything I can think of that must get done, and then pull 3 things off of it each day. If you don’t get those three done, move them to tomorrow. I try to leave this list on my desk at the end of the day, so when I come in the morning I will have a clean desk and an action plan to get started on, right when I walk in the door. 1 RACE YOURSELF To make things more fun, treat your “As art teachers, we must be even more diligent during our prep time at work because so much of our work is hands-on.” work on student grading, and Fridays you could always plan for the next week’s lessons, cut paper, etc. This way, you never get behind on the tasks that are always hanging over your head. 2 am guilty of letting email, the Internet, and organizing digital files consume my time. Don’t let it! Check your email at home and limit your screen time at work, because there are, I’m sure, a lot of other tasks to be done around the room that don’t involve the computer. 3 STAY OFF THAT COMPUTER Guilty as charged. I, too, during class while students are working, I can really get ahead. Something as simple like emptying the drying rack, sorting paintbrushes or sharpening a few pencils in between helping students can help save my precious planning time for more intensive tasks. In the end, if we aren’t efficient with our time and effective in preparing for our students, our most important job suffers— and that job is teaching art. The minutes sure add up and also go by so quickly, so make the most of your work day with these simple suggestions. Good luck! n Jessica Balsley is a K–5 art educator and the founder of www., which offers a wide range of services designed just for art teachers. april 2012 7 WORK DURING CLASS If I can accomplish small tasks fast. It’s easy when you work with great and friendly people to get sucked into long conversations or spend 10 minutes munching on someone’s birthday treats. Sure, be social, but don’t make it a habit every day to burn 20 minutes standing at the copier chatting. 10 4 DON’T BE A LOUNGE LURKER Get in and get out x

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