Arts4All Blog

Day in the Life of an Art Teacher

Posted April 24th, 2017  |  By A4A.admin

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CSMA’s Art4Schools program provides art education throughout schools in the Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.  Follow along as one of our teachers, Lindsay Montgomery, takes you behind the scenes during one of her school days.

Day in the Life of an Art Teacher

by Lindsay Montgomery



1. Each morning, when I arrive at Huff Elementary, I double check my daily schedule to see what grades and lessons I am teaching that day. I arrive an hour before class begins so that I have time to put away dried artwork from the day before and organize my art supplies for the day.


2. I try to balance and fit everything on my cart so that no supplies spill. It can be difficult when I have three back-to-back classes requiring different materials. Today’s lessons use colored pencils, warm and cool colored papers, glue and scissors. After all my materials are packed, I roll my cart to my first class of the day.


3. As soon as I get to the first third grade classroom, I unload the paper bins and scrap box so that students can pick up colors as needed. I give each pair of students a basket filled with two pairs of scissors, two sheets of shiny silver paper, and liquid glue. I hang up my sample artwork and instructions on the board to begin my lesson.


4. This is our second day of the Rainbow Fish shape collage. Each student was given a choice of a dark blue, light blue or turquoise colored background. Then, they chose two 6” x 9” colored papers, for their “large” shapes. I encouraged each child to use one for their large fish and one for a large rock or plant shape. The whole class lays down their large shapes first. The rest of the shapes they choose from the scrap box. I recommend they build their compositions using small colored shapes. These shapes include other smaller fish or sea life, and at least one detailed fish with scales.


5. After all my students are settled and quietly working, I walk around and offer suggestions, feedback and compliments on each of their pieces. In this example, you can see the student is doing a great job building up his large coral and plant shapes in the background which will ultimately lead to a more interesting final piece. I encourage them to break up the blue paper of the background with their shapes so that they create more spatial depth.


6. As the final step, they use oil pastels to add another layer of details. We talk about textures that can be created with the oil pastels so that the flat paper comes alive to make the coral and plants look real. When the end of class draws near, I give them a ten minute warning, which means students that are finished can bring me their art work and start cleaning up.


7. My next third grade class of the day is working on finishing their first project of the year - a line drawing of a fancy Baroque hat. They have already planned their drawings with pencil, outlined with thin black Sharpie and erased any extra pencil marks. Today they are using colored pencils to finish the project; it is really important that I review colored pencil techniques before we start. I remind them to color in the same direction in each shape because it will look neater at the end. We also talk about filling in the entire shape and blending to make new colors.


8. I always have a bin of multicultural skin tones so that they can test the colors on a scratch paper and pick the one that works best for their drawing. Another important part of colored pencil drawing is to make sure each pencil is sharpened so that it doesn’t dent the paper. At the end of the lesson we hang the drawings on the board and discuss them as a class. We talk about what was hard, successful and extra creative about the work.


9. At the end of my day, I wheel everything back to my closet. I return the materials to their labeled spots, return artwork to each class section and get ready for the next day. I always bring my planner home with me in case there is any lesson planning, teacher correspondence, or materials I need to pick up before my next teaching day.

Tags: art school