For the Overwhelmed Art Teacher's First Month

For the Overwhelmed Art Teacher's First Month

I have spoken about my graphic design and digital photography classes in previous posts, in this post I want to give you a full picture of what the rest of classes looked like in those first few weeks (because I taught MANY classes).

Art 1, 2 and 3

These were the classes that I felt most confident in. I actually had them make a sketchbook and started weekly sketchbook assignments on top of the projects I had them doing. I had them sketching out complex concepts and techniques that would correlate to their projects…but that kind of backfired on me. 

The sketchbook was not something that they were used to, so when I came in and told them that they had to do one every single week…it went about as well as asking a chicken to sneak through a bubble wrap covered cornfield.

I think I also had higher expectations than the previous teacher; raising expectations will always come with pushback. I asked my advanced class to fill out a project proposal to explain what they wanted to do for each of the 5 projects that they wanted to complete that semester. Between that and the sketchbook, you would have thought that I was asking them to run a marathon!


Ah, and then there was yearbook. I’m not sure that anything stretched me more in that first year than my yearbook class did. It was completely beyond me. I had never worked on a yearbook in my life. Ever. I really had no idea where to start, and while our Jostens rep was incredibly kind and helpful, it always just seemed like too much. I wanted to do it right, but I didn’t know how to go about it. 

The kids didn’t help, they were mostly concerned about making it look pretty and making sure that their pictures (of themselves) looked good. *sigh* Looking back at that class makes me grimace! 

So that’s all my classes and the overall feeling of that first month or so of school. I was barely treading water, but treading I was. I felt like I was constantly getting dunked and gasping for air, but I was surviving. Sometimes, unfortunately, that is the best you can hope for.

I thought I might share some of the things that I think really helped me through this first hurdle of my first teaching job:

  1. A very understanding, listening husband. If you don’t have friends or family that you can reach out to, reach out somehow and find some. Even if it happens to be virtual. There are several Facebook groups geared toward art teachers that can empathize, offer advice, and “be there” for you when you feel particularly overwhelmed.
  2. Prayer. Seriously, some days it was all I could do.
  3. Chocolate. Lot’s of chocolate. I am surprised that I didn’t gain 20 pounds in that first month alone!
  4. Reminding myself of why I was in this in the first place: I love art! I love inspiring creativity in others! I love to teach people how to do art! Don’t forget that crucial point!

Does anyone have anything to add? Do you have any stories of that first year that you don’t mind sharing?