How to Talk to Administrators & Parents About Your Art Program: AME 041




One of the hardest parts about being an art teacher is advocating for your art program. Feeling vulnerable to budget cuts, constantly aligning with new standards, accommodating everyone’s perception and expectation of what art should be can be very challenging.

Recently I asked the Sparklers to share what their biggest struggles are right now in the art room…I love questions like this because it really gives you insight on how people are feeling and what their current struggles are. And the most fascinating thing for me is that everyone can relate.

Today’s episode addresses three very common struggles in the art room: reduced class time, art project expectations and explaining or defending art techniques or art philosophies.

You may be surprised what all these struggles have in common and how to best eliminate them from your day.


  • Why one of the hardest parts about being an art teacher is advocating for your art program
  • Like children, no two art teachers are alike
  • How as a creative you do have the capacity to think outside of the box to solve problems
  • Why you should look at changing your perception of the problem – instead of battling the administration
  • How the amount of excitement you show will affect the engagement of the children
  • How your children are your advocates, and the way you talk to the parents through the art
  • Questions to ask yourself to help define your art room intentions
  • How your end-of-the-year art show will answer every question that parents and administrations have about your art program
  • How the Four Agreements have transformed Patty’s life


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Letter to a First Year Art Teacher AME 001

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz *affiliate link

What do you think?

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  • Fran Baldwin

    Yes, this talk is so relevant, hits the nail on the head! I have been frustrated as a first year teacher, and this talk is so real! Thank you for great advice and helping me regain a proper perspective for next time when management time overwhelms me.

    • Patty

      It’s all baby steps but once you know that most of the change is within you, that’s when everything makes sense. Thank you so much for listening. 🙂

  • Rachel Alarid

    I really enjoyed this podcast Patty. One piece that stood out to me was that each art teacher is different and will teach in their own way but they are all completely capable. I have four teachers at our studio that are very different from each other and from me in their teaching styles and methods but I love watching how each one reaches our students beautifully and I really need to impress this upon them more.
    Keep up the great work with your podcasts…I love listening to them!

    • Patty

      Thank you so much Rachel. I’m so happy that point resonated with you as I notice everyone trying to be someone that aren’t. There is only one you. Should be a motto not just for kids but art teachers, too!

  • Mary Watson

    I am an artist hired to be an art teacher. I have been doing it for 12 years.
    My school is adding on and I will be getting the old cafeteria as an art room. My struggle is the original plan for surfaces and equipment is now being cut. I am having trouble getting the admin to assist me in collecting used items in and around the school to put my room together.
    Your pod cast showed up on my email and the message was clear. I am the only one who will advocate for my art class. My fear in addressing administration was eased.
    I bought into to your curriculum because my school did not supply one. I love the curriculum and has helped me so much.

  • Celia Fisher

    Thanks Patty this was excellent advice. I am in a unique situation because I don’t just teach art but run a small school for poor kids in north east India and have to navigate a whole host of different problems…art shows? Nobody here considers art a teachable subject, draw the human body, they probably would ask why we do art at all?! But everything you said is extremely relevant and I can apply it in so many different areas in my school, so thanks! I even showed my local teaching assistants yesterday the video on how to double load paintbrushes from your Monet bundle. What fun! Unlike other teachers they have no idea how to have an opinion and I have to drag their feelings out of them, but hopefully they learned something!

    PS I think your presentation is great…congratulations!

    • Patty

      Thank you so much Celia for sharing what your experiences are teaching art. What you are doing is monumental and little by little we can impact children. What a unique opportunity you have to bring out a child’s creative spirit.
      Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Linda Boone

    Hi Patty. I loved this podcast! You addressed some of the issues I face and reinforced my solution to dealing with my situation. I volunteer in a special needs classroom with 30-40 minutes for art, not knowing who I will have that day but I text teacher ahead to get number of children as they have to earn the privilege of doing art by making a certain level so the number of students varies. I did feel totally lost and inadequate when I first started last school year. I am 62 and have not been in the classroom for quite a number of years. So much has changed! I used to do the Art Corps. Program in SanDiego,Ca. when my husband served in the military. It was a set program with same lessons for all grades only differing according to grade level. But line, shape, famous artist etc. were all fixed as part of the program. Wow! I was in complete shock and totally not used to the short time period with the special needs group. Listening to my inner voice, I decided what was the main focus. I decided to do art also crafty projects with the children. No 2 part lessons. Always something that they can complete or near complete in the time we have. They also range in age, grade level and skills. The most important thing to me became just to give the children a creative outlet once a week. For most of them, they struggle every day just to do regular school work. So everything you talked about with the 4 agreements (thanks for the reminder to practice them) really reinforced that I am doing the very best I can with these kids. Thanks for putting this podcast out and thanks for letting me ramble. I love the lessons that you have created too (although many times I have to modify). I have followed you since you started and I think you are AWESOME! Thank you so much for being such a great resource and sharing your ideas and thoughts with all of us.

    • Patty

      Thank you so much for sharing. I love hearing stories of art teacher’s experiences. I love this the most: The most important thing to me became just to give the children a creative outlet once a week.
      And thank you so much for being such a loyal follower…that means so much.

  • Jenna

    Very true Patty. My kids are truly the connection to parents knowing about their art making experiences. I rarely see the parents unless they’re dropping their children off to preschool on the late side — it’s a preschool daycare, and the kids are picked up in the evening, I’m there in the mornings and early afternoons. So if a parent recognizes what we’re doing and gives me feedback, I’m so happy because their kids have communicated with them about their day and their art!
    The Four Agreements have been a huge help in everything I’m engaged in, it’s a continual learning process and such a wise approach!!
    Thanks for your podcasts, they have really been so helpful.

    • Patty

      Thanks so much, Jenna! It’s so true, right? Kids are out best advocates.

  • Valerie Milo

    I LOVED this episode!! So not what I expected but definitely spoke to me. I grew up with a lot of negativity and it’s a constant struggle to not fall back into that negative way of thinking. I always need to reminder of to check myself, and switch up my inner dialogue. Then I feel so refreshed! Patty, listening to your podcasts is such a light in my life these days! I can’t believe someone said you’re bad at interviewing, I think you’re fantastic! I’m very introverted and I over analyse, I worry about other’s feelings TOO much and I’m indecisive sometimes…and I think that can make people like us seem weak & insecure. I appreciate that you are introverted and gentle but also strong, determined, and clear about who you are and what you want. You’re an inspiration to me! I feel stronger & clearer each day about how I want to use art to enliven my life and the lives of others.

    • Patty

      Oh Valerie….thank you. I cant tell you how much I receive your words. Sometimes in this podcasting world, you never really know how you are coming across. So thank you so much for sharing how it has helped. I love sharing different perspectives. Its how we grow and in my opinion, become happier. Thanks for listening. You’re awesome!

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