Murphy’s Law in the Art Room

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the last 12 months. For me, this reads like a “Murphy’s Law* in the Art Room” list! So here’s my
“Top Ten Lessons Learned (and Sometimes Re-learned!) This Year”
*Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will!”
1. If you plan painting projects for “Picture Day”, the kids will all show up in their best clothes and at least one will end up with paint where it shouldn’t be.
2. If you don’t try a lesson first yourself, you’re likely to encounter a major problem with it – right in the middle of your demo, in front of a class full of students, and of course, parent volunteers.
3. If you’re not feeling as prepared as usual (i.e. you’re “winging it” a little), that will be the time the principal decides to drop in with prospective parents for an “informal” observation.
4. If you make a mistake in your demo/instructions, and then tell your students to disregard what you just said, at least half of the class will still do it the way you first told them to.
5. If you use a glue stick (instead of “YES Paste“) to mount artwork for a display that you think will only be up for a week, someone will decide it has to stay up longer and you’ll spend the rest of that time re-gluing things as they pop off.
6. If you don’t keep careful records of what you teach to each class, you’ll end up re-teaching the same lesson to the same group of kids later on.
7. If you leave a permanent marker near the front of the room, someone will use it to draw on the whiteboard. (FYI – Drawing over a permanent marker with a whiteboard marker will erase it – yay!!)
8. If there’s going to be a fire drill during Art time, it won’t happen until all supplies have been passed out and students are hard at work on their projects.
9. If you pass out supplies before giving directions, it’s guaranteed your students will only hear about half of what you say.
10. Just because the permanent markers didn’t bleed through the paper on your sample, it doesn’t mean that they won’t bleed through your students’ papers…. all over their desks!
(If this has happened to you, as it did to me a couple of weeks ago, I have the perfect solution here! Happy New Year and happy creating in the year ahead!)
What lessons have you learned this year? Send me your comments…. I’d love to hear!!
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  1. Your post was hilarious! I totally relate to all of it and I think anyone who teaches art will be able to relate.

    My lesson: If your classroom just received brand new carpeting, it's best not to do any oil pastel lessons for at least one year. Otherwise it won't look so new anymore.

  2. That's another good one!! We definitely have some oil pastel ground into our carpet…. and we would probably have even more than we do if the carpet was NEW! That's Murphy's Law for you!!

  3. Love these. I/m in my first year of teaching art and am compiling my own list like this. Interesting to see how they are the same!

  4. Love your list! Here's my addition:

    If you have an open cup of coffee stashed anywhere in your room during a class, even in some corner just to be safe, it will absolutely get knocked over by a student before you can drink it. And the amount that is spilled is in direct proportion to how much you need it (i.e. if you are really jonesing for it, it will get completely spilled, less so and part of it will get spilled. etc.) I'll see if I can think of any more.

  5. that no matter how many times you try and explain a lesson thoroughly, and extreme detail, even covering the questions you know they're going to answer…. someone still asks a question.

  6. and p.s. to anyone else out there— I will be starting my blog shortly with all of my lesson ideas out there too, some borrowed, some stolen, some creatively mine :P thank you to any and all other art teachers who have helped me with MY project ideas too! that's the reason I'm doing this, to help others the way that people like you and Kathy Barbro help me!

  7. I'm a grandma to three creative children (whom I totally adore). I came upon your site in my random search for art/craft ideas. Once I started reading I was hooked, made a list of books to check out at the library, added you to my favorites list and made a list of the basic supplies to have in my supply container. Thank you for all the creative and wonderful ideas. Linda