Same Project, Different Results: Art Made Easy 038




Does this sound familiar?

You teach a lesson and it goes terrific: the students understand the concepts and are totally engaged, but then you go to teach the same lesson at a different school, and it fails. The students don’t grasp the concepts and want to do their own thing. What do you do?

This was the discussion last week inside the Members Club Facebook group. First time art teacher, Traci Ann wondered why this happens and how it can be avoided.

If you’ve taught art for any length of time, you know this happens and that it happens to both seasoned and brand new teachers.

This week’s episode addresses what to do when a proven project doesn’t work out so well and how you can pivot to ensure that your students get the most out of their time with you.


  • Why it is important to assess your classes’ strengths and abilities
  • How to alter the lesson plan based on the outcome of the assessment
  • How negative thoughts about the class room teacher’s management plan can affect your teaching abilities and/or outcome of your projects
  • My advice when a lesson plan gets out of control (and how to regroup and start over)
  • How to acknowledge problems or critique children’s work
  • How to think on your feet when a project is not going well for a numerous amount of students
  • Why it is important to be on the lookout for how students can help you refine the process of how you are teaching certain projects
  • Whether or not templates should be used
  • How to be mindful or the length of each project and the attention span of the children

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What’s your strategy for dealing with projects that don’t go as planned?

Share your tips, strategies an experience so we can reassure all of the new art teachers out there that this will happen and it is fixable! 

What do you think?

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  • Fran Baldwin

    This week the 2 third grade classes had completely opposite responses to my introduction to the Matisse Goldfish lesson. Several negative comments, flat refusal to do it frowning and grumbling. I didn’t push back, and just remained positive and stuck to my plan but modified some aspects. This is an unruly group usually and good results are scattered, but I remained hopeful some would get it. By contrast the next class was all in, same lesson, engaged and interested right from the beginning. Goes to show there’s always a dynamic happening there, and I only see them for 45 minutes. It is hard to convince the student to attempt the guided drawing, when he only wants to use model magic clay. In order to focus on my thinking in the moment, I need to ignore the comments.

  • Michelle

    I just want to echo two of the key tips that stood out to me from this podcast:
    1. Know yourself
    2. Know your students

    I have learned that if I am frustrated, frazzled, fearful, or just annoyed, it will definitely affect the way my students experience an art lesson. I love the way you always encourage us to bring our best “mindspace” to an art lesson.

    I also concur with the advice to gauge the abilities of each class. I have used your Three Musicians lesson very successfully with my 2nd graders for the past 2 years. This year, many of my students are less developmentally mature. They struggle much more with cutting and basic skills than past students. After the first musician, I could see how much difficulty they were having. When we came back to finish the next 2 musicians, I broke each part of the process down much more deliberately. I cut the paper for all of the parts down to size and modeled exactly how to cut each piece. Students were both more engaged and more successful due to the adjustments.

    Thank you for another excellent podcast. I love listening to you speak and hearing your wisdom. I’ve learned SO much about how to teach art from your guidance over the past 5 years. Keep up the great work!

    • Patty

      Thank you so much Michelle! It’s so true, right? You always need to assess your class…cant assume anything and teach to their level.
      Thanks so much for the great comment.

  • Mady

    This episode was super helpful. I travel to other schools one day a week and I’m always puzzled how a lesson that worked in one school doesn’t in another. Thanks so much for the tips patty.

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