Behaviour Management in the Art Room

The process of developing a personal written Theory of Behaviour Management for the Art Room helped me to focus on what I really wanted my art classes to look like, clarify classroom rules, and how I would reinforce them.

Reflecting back at this time in the year, I will revisit my original plan and address what worked, what didn’t and how it could be improved moving forward.

First, I would add the following to my philosophy: I encourage my students to turn their mistakes into masterpieces.

This is an area that is challenging for many students and they often want to give up when they make a mistake or aren’t satisfied with part of their artwork. They don’t realize that art is just like English or math… work can be edited and corrected, and we are all improving with practice! This is a critical step that all artists address. Sometimes we need to step away from our work and look at it again with fresh eyes. This is an important message that I strive to teach my students.

I would also add: Every artist is unique.

Another concept that I really try to convey to my students is that everyone’s art is unique.

Will my art look like your art? No. Should your art look like the art of the person sitting next to you? No. They will all be different and all be beautiful!

This is a phrase that I repeat every time we begin a new project especially with younger artists. I don’t want the students to compare their work to anyone else’s. I just want them to do their best. Art doesn’t have to be realistic, this is why it is important for me to introduce my students to a wide variety of artistic styles and artists including Impressionists, and Modern Art.

Rules & Consequences

My classroom rules and consequences were quite effective. I found that the key was being consistent and considerate as well as revisiting the rules when needed. Private conversations with students regarding their behaviour were always best for turning things around. I rarely needed to go beyond a warning or communicate with parents. Positive comments, letting them know that I believed in them and their ability, as well as scaffolding lessons with the option of using templates for some students, were key in helping them gain confidence in themselves and their work.

Surprisingly…one of the most effective behaviour management tools was greeting the students at the door and waiting for them to be ready to come in. I even received positive feedback from a 3rd grade student that this consistency was one of her favourite parts of my class. She liked that we had a routine and that it always began in the same way.

Using the xylophone key to get students attention was somewhat effective, working better for some classes than others. I also used some call and response if it wasn’t working as this worked better with certain groups.

Giving instructions slowly and modeling techniques was a highly effective practice, especially when introducing new skills or art mediums.

Visual Tools

The ART ROOM JOBS poster was a good tool to delegate responsibilities. One issue was that some jobs like sink specialists  weren’t always needed or the students at that table weren’t finished in order to wash them. Students adjusted to this fact but if I were to redesign the poster, I would change or eliminate that job. There could be more than one table distributing and collecting supplies. Another important job to add to the list is Digital Duty. These students would be responsible for documenting with photos and video.

The Blabber Brush…although great in theory and a good way to discuss the importance of volume levels in the classroom didn’t really work as a tool. One reason could be where it was hanging- not really in view. Also I wasn’t as  consistent/firm about it. The efficacy of this visual aid was also dependent on the class, some being much more talkative than others.

Fast finisher activities were great. Changes for next year could be using sketchbooks with students in grade 4 and up. Artist reflections were also an excellent tool as an exit slip and provided future valuable information for the art show and QR codes.

Things I learned this year…

QR Codes

This was a great tool for me to document the process of learning using NOW literacies. In creating their video reflections, students were self-motivated and self-directed. Their reflections captured in the code proved that my teaching was effective, and documented their growth in artistic skill, language, and mindset for others to see.

I was also able to share my own learning of this tool with other teachers.

Here is a short presentation outlining the steps to create a QR code .


As the year progresses, so does my comfort level with blogging. It is a great tool for reflecting on my own learning and an excellent platform for showing parents what we are doing in class…making our learning visible. It is a lot of work to capture the art for all of the classes and I look forward to giving students more responsibility as they begin to create their own blog folios. Creating the video reflections was an excellent first step towards this process, and students can also refer to some of my posts as exemplars when they create their own in the future.


Going through the prototype process was a great tool to help me reflect on my practice. Learning how to better reflect is where I have grown the most as a teacher. I was unused to taking the time to stop, think, and document my own learning journey. Being a part of the Documentors and my time being mentored by Silvia Tolisano pushed me not only to practice regular reflection and documentation but also to share what I am doing with others. I too am following our North Stars…WE LEARN BETTER TOGETHER!