SchoolArts Room

February SchoolArts: The Issue of Time

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Jan 8, 2011

Time is what prevents everything from happening at once. —John Archibald Wheeler


February SchoolArts

Is there anyone whose day is more regimented by time than teachers? Especially art teachers? My day is certainly run with a constant eye on the clock, beginning from the moment I reach school, when I have to open my room, be sure I have everything out and handy for my morning classes (even though I try to leave it all ready for the next day when I leave school), check my mailbox in the workroom, and quickly look at my email for urgent messages (I don’t always manage to do that). If I have an extra minute or two, I’ll put out the ongoing artwork for the first class based on their seating chart.

Once classes start, I frequently check the clock, judging if I need to adjust or expand a lesson to keep students busy during class, and deciding when we have to stop working, have closure, clean up (depending on media used), and line up.

I find that student teachers often have the most trouble with adjusting for time, especially in embellishing or extending a lesson when students finish more quickly that anticipated. Getting students cleaned up and ready to go on time is also challenging for student teachers. If they can master these skills, they are more likely to be successful.

As far as the concept of time goes for my elementary students, their understanding seems to rely on the concepts of old, older, and oldest, though they can make timelines of their own lives. For example, my fifth graders have created stories and drawings of their favorite memories and recorded them for a VoiceThread presentation. On a smaller scale, my students have also used sets of art postcards to work together in teams to sequence them by time.

Posting and adding to an ongoing timeline in the art room is an effective approach to help students understand concepts of time and how art and artists have influenced each other over time. One of the best timelines I’ve seen in from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Theresa McGee expands on this and other online timelines in Tech4ArtEd this month.

No matter your approach to time, SchoolArts hopes this issue can help you use time to your advantage in the art room.