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Do You have to come up with New Projects every year?

art teacher

Do I have to come up with ALL new projects every year?

Am I a slacker if I don’t?

Am I a bad teacher if I buy and use other teacher’s plans?


There’s no hard and steadfast rule that answers the above questions, but if you’re hanging out on the internet or with a lot of other art teachers, sometimes, you just might feel bad, and like you want to hide in the corner because you don’t create all new projects every year.

So first and foremost, do what works for you, and what’s best for your students. 

My first year of teaching, I had 5 different classes to prep for , and by different I mean opposite ends of the spectrum. I went from teaching darkroom photography in one room, to teaching jewelry and metals in another. And you know what, that year I used some other teachers lessons plans, because it was the only way that I could get everything done, and still sleep once and while, and that didn’t make me a bad teacher, and it doesn’t make you one either.

Now, I happen to LOVE, writing lesson plans, and coming up with projects, so eventually, I started only teaching with things that I created, and while I do create new lessons every year, I don’t create ALL NEW LESSONS.

  • If a lesson was a flop, then I ditch it and come up with something new for the next year
  • If the lesson was awesome, then I reuse it, but often add or adjust each year. So I might add in different videos, or make adjustments to the objectives or examples. So that lesson just gets more and more awesome every year.
  • I don’t make new lessons for all of my classes at once. I cycle through.  For example, I’m really comfortable teaching darkroom photography and was even when I first stated. I’d taken darkroom classes, so the lessons that I created the first year were pretty solid. On the other hand, when I first started I had no experience/ background with jewelry making. So the lessons that I made the first year , were not so awesome, so I reused most of my darkroom lessons the following year, and focused on redoing the jewelry lessons. This has been my approach for the last 10 years. Each year, pick what was the weakest the year before, and focus on making that stronger.

The next thing that I want you to think about, is what is your strength?

Some of you might have wanted to smack me in the face, or thought this lady is crazy, when I said that I love writing lesson plans. That might mean that lesson planning/ project creation aren’t your strength, but you probably are totally awesome and get all kinds of excited about something that I don’t. If writing lesson plans makes you want to lay your head on your desk and cry, then use other people’s plans ( and make adjustments to best for you class), and spend your time and energy rockin the part of teaching that you rock best.


Maybe you like writing lesson plans as well, but you just don’t have enough time, because you have 3 kids that you want to spend time with, because you need groceries AGAIN, because you’re also taking care of your aging parents, because LIFE. Then again, forgive yourself. And maybe write one new plan a month, and supplement with other teachers lessons, or reuse old lessons.

You are GREAT, but you are not a superhero.