First Year Teachers

This checklist was developed by Max Darby in July 2009

The following checklist and advice provides information to help first year Art Teachers take up their new position with confidence. The advice is appropriate whether you are a first year teacher to a new school or taking up your very first position in any school. Most of the points listed concern the need for thorough preparation prior to teaching any of your classes.

While some activities might later develop more spontaneously, in the early stages of your career, it is usually best to err on the side of being overly- prepared than under-prepared. It is also sound advice to be strict and in total control of everything that happens. An Art room is not the place for anything but the best behaviour. Creativity, use of the imagination and the development of confidence to work in an individual way seldom occurs in disorganized spaces and with personal responsibility and control missing.  Besides, the equipment, tool and facilities that students have access to are usually very expensive.

Once a trusting relationship has been developed and once you can be sure that your rules and organizational structures are understood by all and work, you are then in a position to adjust your working style and approach should you wish. This might become permanent or might just be for set activities. You can also come to rely more confidently on students appropriately using their own judgments and approaches to set tasks. But this should always be your decision to make and not one that is taken from you.

The Art room must at all times be safe and secure and one of your major roles is to develop a supportive atmosphere. There are already freedoms in you classrooms that are not evident in many other subject areas – the need to move around the studio, to talk and interact with other students, the develop individually and to have personal opinions, values and beliefs. While all of these allow the teacher the freedom to develop special working relationships with students, these advantages come with enormous responsibilities.

New Teachers need to be well-prepared for their classes by

obtaining a job or position description from the school

ensuring you are fully familiar with the job description

making enquiries about anything in the job description that you are unsure of or don’t understand

contacting the school administration to enquire about visiting the school prior to taking up the position

contacting the Head of Art to introduce yourself

organizing a visit to the Art Department to view the location and facilities and to meet the Art staff

familiarizing yourself with your work station or staff room desk location

familiarizing yourself with the facilities of the school such as photocopying locations, library, IT support people etc.

requesting a copy of the Art Department programs and course descriptions

requesting a copy of the existing courses that you are going to be expected to teach

requesting an outline of the expectations of your course should the course not already exist (you will need these to develop your course)

requesting a copy of your teaching allotment and timetable as soon as one is available

familiarizing yourself with the underlying organization structure of the Art Department and the general Art Education Philosophy under which the staff work

preparing course guides and programs to meet the expectations of the job

preparing all of the introductory lessons in advance of arriving at the school to begin teaching (these can be adjusted if necessary)

determining the motivational or introductory comments and instructions for the first lessons of each class

enquiring about the need to order equipment and materials for your first teaching lessons

requesting lists of students allocated to you classes

making up a personal roll of students who you will teach

working out a classroom organizational structure to ensure the smooth operation of all classes

developing a list of classroom procedures and rules that suit your own teaching approach (and the needs of other teachers). These might include such things as

–  room entry and leaving

–  classroom behaviour

–  access to protective clothing

–  student movement around the room

–  student access to materials such as paper, paint, brushes etc

–  recycling and efficient use of materials

–  cleaning up – on-going and at end of class

–  drying and storing of student work

–  storing of workbooks or diaries

–  storing and location of folios

–  access to resources

–  safety and health

–  first aid

–  use of clean and/or dry spaces.

preparing and printing of handouts, instructions or support information for your first classes

preparing a list of class bell times (or class times) to display in your room

preparing a list if class rules to display in your room

preparing signs that indicate where equipment is to be stored when not being used  eg brushes for use with oil paints, brushes for use with acrylic paint, water pots, etc

preparing safety signs and procedures to be located beside equipment that might be dangerous, e.g. cutting machines, welding equipment,

preparing samples and/or models to show students

preparing demonstrations of working methods or processes

locating and displaying examples of artists’ works that demonstrate ideas or working methods that related to student tasks (as appropriate)

establishing and preparing homework if it is deemed necessary


Please send me any other ideas you have for handling a first year teacher role. Comments can be left in the space below or I can be mailed directly on



Be Sociable, Share!

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply