Classroom Management

How should teaching partners share the class without being unbalanced?
This could be done any number of ways, but the most clear way for the sake of your students would be to alternate the week in which each of you leads a lesson. Even for adults, it is really confusing to be listening to two people during the same lesson. The supporting partner can take notes and go over them later on so you can improve the lesson, but they should not interrupt the leading partner.

How do I manage a class where students drop in and out, and leave early? 
It can be really disconcerting to plan carefully only to see the student numbers fluctuate throughout your lesson. If students come in late, have a short activity to give the ones who appear on time until most of the students are there, then carry out the regular lesson at the time when most are present. Transition to another short activity in the latter part when they begin to get picked up.

My kids do not see me as an authority figure.
Start by conducting yourself as one. This does not mean using a loud voice of scary behavior. It starts by having every minute of your session planned, having a “plan B” ready, and having a plan for discipline. Most of all, it means not making threats or issuing empty promises. Establish consequences and follow up on them. Don’t allow misbehavior and stick to your plan. It is not too late to get stricter on what you allow and don’t allow in your art class.

How do you establish respect with adults? I don’t want to be seen as condescending or pedantic.
Most mature adults will understand that you might look young, but you have something to bring to the table. Most of them by now have done some wellness or physical therapy class, so you are not the first young person to teach them something.This excellent, short video explains what older adults need from you. Even if you yourself don’t feel like an expert, respect from adults comes when they see you are honest, on time, and well-prepared.  When you establish a track record of trying to meet their needs and of being approachable and friendly, they will tolerate an occasional mistake.

As for coming off as condescending or pedantic, the only way this could happen is if you talk your head off without listening to what they need. Give them an exit slip in which to ask questions or make comments. This will help you plan your time effectively and avoid the temptation to fill it with nervous talk. Finally, at your age, being honest about your own limits is really important. There will be things they might request that you won’t be able to deliver, and it is okay to let them know as soon as you realize this.

My students were *forced* to take my class. They seem very uninterested in art. Now what?
Art is only one of several other mandatory classes. If they complain about this, it is because they’re testing you and acting like it is *uncool* to take your class because of peer pressure. Most of this fades away once they start getting more familiar with you as a teacher. Try redirecting that type of energy. How can you do that? Start by ignoring the complaints. Focus on preparing an open lesson with plenty to do that leaves them creative choices. Organize it in small groups and pairs so that their non-compliance affects the group’s outcomes. If ignoring loud complaints only makes them louder, try a private one-on-one chat with the group’s influencer. Do not alienate them. Simply state how you are doing the best you can, and ask them how your class can be improved. If they don’t respond, don’t give them ultimatums. In private, give them the choice of doing what the class is doing or sitting there quietly. Don’t reward this behavior with alternate activities.

I am worried about handling students that get out of control. 
To answer this question I would need more specifics, but know that this is something that happens to all teachers at some time or another because of different reasons, and that most of it can be prevented through good planning. Maybe the lesson is too loosely structured and relies on routines that haven’t yet been established. Maybe there was some “down time,” i.e. time when students didn’t not know what to do next. Or maybe your students were doing something very loud and physical before your class and need time to transition. Students also get out of control when they sense that their teacher feels powerless and insecure. If this is you, I cannot stress how important it is make sure you have a solid, age appropriate lesson plan and to rehearse in front of a friend.

What should I do if lose control of my class because my kids lose interest?
Use a focusing tool to gain the group’s attention, then issue a simple directive (“I want everyone to come back to the rug/their tables”), followed by a short warm-up to change the energy in the room. For example,I begin a drawing and play a visual  “guess what” on dry erase board. I only accept answers from students who raise their hand and reward whomever guesses first. I do not spend time lecturing anyone on their behavior. Instead, I issue consequences because actions speak way louder than words. For example, I will go and talk to their next teacher to make sure that students who break, dirty or vandalize something have to return and fix it. Once you do that once and they miss football practice, they know you mean business.

Troublemakers. How do you get their attention and get them to stop troublemaking???
There are as many types of troublemakers as there are students, so your approach cannot be the same for everyone. Find out what they are getting out of pushing the boundaries. Is the class comedian developing a captive audience of approving peers? Send her out of your class for a few minutes. Is your insecure fourth grader causing a distraction to avoid having to draw? Take a deep breath and get him to open up, in private. Does your gifted student ignore the no cell phone policy? Immediately pull him aside give him one (and only one) warning. Once you’ve interrupted these troublemaking behaviors, address the issues in a more long-term way.

My kids don’t clean up after themselves.
I would first ask if you have clearly established your expectations. Did you spend five minutes discussing the sign that explain what “clean” is for this lesson? Did you do a role play to show students how to get the members of your small group to do complete their cleaning tasks? Have you assigned cleaning roles? Did you recognize (verbally and tangibly) those who have been cleaning? Does cleaning up on time carry some perks in your art class? Here are some cleanup ideas for elementary level students.