Alright, so teaching without a classroom and without a place to store your supplies can be frustrating. However, I have made it work for myself. Here are some hints that I wish I would have known before taking this job.
1. Just because a classroom has a projector, smartboard, or visualizer, doesn't mean it actually works or that the teacher has it set up. I always come to a class prepared for anything. Always have an actual hard copy of visuals, and not just digital images. (if I can't get the technology to work in about 2 minutes, I move on with plan B)
2. Not all classrooms have a sink. Always have a bucket of water just in case!
3. Having students all wash their hands at the end of class is a waste of time. (Don't waste 15 minutes of class doing this) Always have wipes. Baby wipes are the greatest invention. I have my students first wipe their hands and then their table. One wipe per child.
4. Egg Cartons!!! I love them. I use the Styrofoam ones for tempera or acrylic paints. Once the paints are in there, they will last for about 3 days without drying out. If you need it to last longer, put a wet paper towel in before closing the lid. This will give you an extra day or two.
5. Cleaning paint brushes. With the older kids, I assign one or two children to wash them for me. Most elementary kids will want to help you with this. With the younger kids (like pre-K and kindergarten), I bring a bucket of soapy water with me and we put all the dirty brushes in it. I leave them there until I have time to wash them out later. Usually by the time I get to cleaning them, they are already half way clean from the soapy water.
6. Multi Task!! Do more than one thing at a time. For example, after I give students a step, I know I have a minute or two to get something done while they are working. I will use this time to fill up water cups, pass out supplies, or collect anything not being used anymore. Yes, at the end of the day you will be exhausted. (but it's a good kind of exhausted because you know the student's got as much as they could out of the art lesson).
7. My Cart. The cart changes sizes depending on which school I am at. I switch things on or off my cart depending on what lessons I am doing that day. Think through every aspect of a project. Always have pencils, glue and scissors on your cart. Just because students are suppose to have these things, doesn't mean they actually do.
8. I do not have drying racks. This is just a fact I have to live with. This doesn't stop me from painting with the kids. Anything that needs to be dried, I will usually find any open space in the classroom to put them. (Most teachers are okay with this). If for some reason you can't have them in the room, I will even sometimes put them on the floor in a hallway or under a stairwell. Just be creative and don't forget they are there.
9. Moving art supplies from one school to another is a crazy task. I load everything into boxes and label the contents. That way I can just leave anything I am not using in my car. I am not going to haul things all the way into the school if I don't need to that day.
10. The hot glue gun is your friend. If you need to hang up artwork in a school without bulletin boards, I hang up large sheets of paper with hot glue instead of tape. (Tape will fall in about a week or so). You do need to get permission from the principal to do this. As long as the walls are the bumpy stone walls, hot glue will peel right off without peeling the paint. Just use a paint scraper.
11. Expect the Unexpected!!! Being a nomadic art teacher just means you have to be flexible. Don't sweat the small things. Also, expect that life will be chaos. Nothing will ever feel organized, so learn to just have organized chaos. Go with the flow! In many ways, I like the fact that my days change drastically from one to another. Good thing I am not OCD. :)