Tales of the First Year as ART-On-a-CART
As a first year art teacher only one can dream of what their classroom will look like. What your bulletin boards will look like, how to arrange the room, etc. But does anyone ever dream about what his or her cart will look like? Probably not … But I’m facing reality and dreaming of what my cart will look like everyday.
I work in a large K-8 school district with a total of approximately 15 schools. I teach on a cart 4 out of 5 days a week and work between 3 different schools ranging from teaching 1st through 6th grade. Being on a cart can look different in every school. At my home building where I am fortunate to be for 3 days, I share an office/storage space with the music teacher. Inside the office there is a small closet that I decided to use for materials that I don’t find myself needing or using, as someone ordered them before my time. I also have labeled most shelves for use by substitutes and even just myself.
Here’s a glimpse into my office/ art storage room. Notice: Two teacher desks and two carts because Music and Art share the space.
Side view of my Art Cart packed up for an afternoon of art.
The key to being on a cart is really ORGANIZATION. But I bet that people could look at your cart or storage area on some days and say ‘ That’s what you call organized?!’. But we all now it’s our own organization and even can be called an organized mess. With each class I see, I created a classroom folder labeled with the grade level and classroom teacher’s name. Inside the classroom folders are colored table folders. Luckily, most classrooms had the students seated in small groups, which was convenient for me to assign table folders for students to keep their work in. This helps tremendously with saving time passing out work and I also arrange the colors in rainbow order to help me remember it’s the same layout in every room I push into.
I have a ton of various storage containers, bins, buckets, etc. to sort out materials for the tables. So those find their way onto my cart prepped and ready to go. I also use box lids from the Xerox copy paper boxes for sorting out materials for individual classes. These are great because they’re stackable. Each table gets a color coordinated pencil cup that has x amount of pencils, a pencil sharpener, and erasers that stays at their table. So there’s never an excuse to not having a pencil in Art class.
Front view of my cart with the color coordinated pencil cups for student tables.
Of course there are essentials that must be on your cart at all time … I always have a roll of masking tape (most chalkboards in classrooms I go into are not magnetic), pens, pencils, scissors, SHARPIES (because students can’t see when I demonstrate in pencil), etc. I always have a tub for early finishers that contain free draw paper, coloring pages, legos/ building blocks, and broken crayons to peel the paper off because I recycle crayons.
The hardest thing I have found so far with being on a cart is my memory. Every time I pack up my cart in preparation, I need to think back to the last time I saw this class and say ‘What supplies did we use?’ and should pack some of that because there might’ve been absent students. I found myself in situations where I didn't have the necessary supplies for an absent student and had to send a student up to my storage space to try to find what I needed.
Cleaning up….For messy projects I use baby wipes and cover the desks with art mats (laminated pieces of 12”x18” construction paper). At the beginning of the school year, I sent home a note asking for various items (ie. Paper towel tubes, egg cartons, Styrofoam meat trays) and requested that each family at least bring in one package of baby wipes. I cut these in half and students get one to clean their hands and wipe off the art mat. The other recyclable items have been used for various projects. So far I have really used the egg cartons and Styrofoam trays for paint so far.
Seeing that I am new to being a traveling teacher, I would love to find out what others do in this situation!
- Melissa Schaefer