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What to do when another teacher asks for art supplies

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I’ve been thinking a lot about communication, more specifically , how I want to be communicated with, and I’m feeling like it’s a bit crazy that I’m just thinking about this now.  I teach both in person and online, and something that I’ve learned from teaching online, is that for it to work well, and not drive both you and your students totally crazy, you need to be super duper clear about how you want your students and parents to communicate with you, and how and when you will communicate with them.

And this year, I feel like I finally nailed it in the online realm, students know what’s going on , what’s expected of them, they know where and how to ask questions, and the appropriate time to wait for a response. IT’S FREAKIN wonderful. As I reflected on why it’s working well, it’s because I was really clear with how I wanted people to communicate with me, and then I had an open and honest conversation with my students about how they needed me to communicate with them. After spending a few weeks experiencing the online classroom, they shared what was working well for them, and what seemed a bit confusing. Then I went in and fixed what they said felt confusing. It’s now working better for all of us, we learned from each other, and were clear about what we needed.

Recently, I realized that I’ve never been clear about what I expected when asking for a recommendation letter. I’ve always gotten frustrated with students, asking for them last minute, or asking and having minimal detail. Finally, I decided to stop being frustrated and look at the problem differently. Maybe the problem was me 🙁 I never explained or shared any of my expectations about recommendations letters, so how in the world were my students to know what I wanted? So I created a simple and straight forward guide, this way everyone feels more comfortable with the process. It’s no longer a guessing game.

Problem solved.

This revelation got me thinking about all of the things that frustrate me, and made me start to wonder, maybe I just need to communicate my expectations up front, instead of waiting until I’m angry and frustrated.

Next on the list: Teachers sending students to ask for art supplies.

So here’s the deal, we’re going to give those teachers the benefit of the doubt. We’re going to assume that they don’t know that we often buy art supplies with our own money, that they don’t realize that our supply budget rarely covers everything that we actually need, and assume that they really just don’t realize how much it frustrates us. Because each time a kid walks in and asks for “x” , it’s like this little reminder that we don’t have enough supplies, and we start to feel like no one takes us seriously. And while those feelings are totally valid, I’m going to play devils advocate here, and  say that the other teacher is thinking , crap, we’re in the middle of this project and I don’t have everything I need. Won’t the art teacher be super excited that we’re making things in class…. I bet the art teacher has tons of paper, and paint, and glue.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what we’re gonna try.

Dear Everyone ( you can get more creative here),

As we begin a new semester, I want to quickly touch base with all of your about art supplies.

If you’re looking to borrow or consume art supplies here’s what I have to offer: ( then list any items that you are willing to loan or give away. I usually have some random things that I’m happy to share) Anything beyond what is on the list, is reserved for students in my classes, as we operate on very tight budget and many of the supplies are paid for out of my pocket or through student supply fees. ( you’ll need to edit this to make sure that it makes sense for your situation)

If you’re looking for paint, paper…… I like to order my supplies from _________________, if you talk to _________________, you may be able to place your own order and receive the school discount. If you’re not sure what to order, I’d be happy to give you some recommendations.

Please refrain from sending students for supplies. Supplies outside of the above list will not be handed out.

While we’re on the communication train, here are 3 emails to help you respond when you get that email from a not so happy parent about a grade.