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General [Question]

"Would you make me a tree for my bulletin board?"

Started on Sep 27, 2012 by lightARTed
Last post on Mar 03, 2013

Occasionally teachers ask me to make something for them. I have no problem helping teachers with ideas, lending supplies, collaborating, and giving advice but I can’t help feeling agitated being asked to draw or make something for a teacher. My reply is that I do not have time…please post here how you handle saying no.

3 Keeps, 0 Likes, 13 Comments

  • AmyHall 09/28/2012 at 12:20pm
    Weeeell, its the saying "NO" that I have trouble with.. I teach at a small independent school and we all wear many hats, so most "creative" things come to me (although I do teach with a wonderfully creative staff). Sometimes I see if an older student wants to take on the task, and usually they do so I pull them at recess or a break.

  • RuthByrne 09/28/2012 at 05:52pm
    Great question! I'd answer by saying, train your colleagues expectations.

    If its something big but kid doable I make it a project, I really disagree with bulletin boards and displays that are too teacher made-ellsion machined-storebought postered. Its fun to surprise a teacher that likes polished products with something funky and kid-made. If they don't like it, they'll stop asking!

    Sometimes I give out the materials and work space for the teacher & help them make the project, that way they are time invested as well. If they don't want to put in the same time, they'll learn to stop asking.

    If they are asking for something special and fancy pants, I'm flattered that they think I'm good enough!

    I find myself saying "no" to suggestions for cross curricular art projects when the other teacher defines the project parameters. They tend to be crafty and impossible to expand into a great art lesson. I say, to people who want me to make torches with their class for an olympic project, "Let me think about it, I'm not sure if that will satisfy my curriculum goals"

  • jfrisco 09/29/2012 at 07:18am

    This is always a tricky one. I'm interested in other's suggestions as well. I'm usually too polite about this.

  • imagiNATION 09/29/2012 at 02:57pm
    I usually say yes to anything that is directly for students like props for a presentation they are doing or something of the like but for bulletin boards and such I usually say I will help them with suggestions or direction but I unfortunately don't have the time to do the actual thing for them. By offering some help it seems like people are content that I am not blowing them off and I still get my prep!

  • jfrisco 09/29/2012 at 08:17pm
    I guess one way I have dealt with this is to encourage the teacher asking me for the "favor" to have students who are willing gather the supplies needed and create what the teacher is envisioning. I let the teacher know which students have strengths in what they are searching out (sculpture, design, painting, drawing, etc...) There have been a few times where I have had to just do it - times where it was to be a "surprise" for the kids. I have also willingly created a lot of the initial visuals for our school themes, but I guess that is part of my job description. ;0 Sometimes I have had to let people down easy... just like RuthByrne said, by letting them know that there simply isn't time within the curriculum to have students work on interdisciplinary projects for THEIR class during Art time. If I do this, I make sure to let them know that I am SO excited they are infusing Art in the content areas and that they are welcome to any materials I have available. I also continually ask for teachers to PLEASE give me notice about supplies they would like to use. It makes it very difficult when students enter the Art Room to request supplies while I'm teaching another class. :(

  • ronnidart 10/29/2012 at 09:44am
    Unfortunately, I usually say yes. However I have shown teachers where to get a resource they can trace and how to use simple machines like the opaque projector, document camera, and overhead. The response is usually, " I know how to do that, but I thought you could do it faster." To which I add, "Faster for whom?" l usually make my point.
    It is the same with borrowing supplies. I don't mind people borrowing a piece of paper now and again, but some teachers take advantage. It is usually the same teachers. Once a teacher asked for a few sheets of orange construction paper, I said take what you need. What she needed was all my orange paper. She continually asked to borrow things. Finally I said that she needed to order these things herself. Her response was that if these supplies came out of her budget, she could not afford the "fun" things. I explained that if they didn't come from her budget that I couldn't afford the necessary things for my projects.
    Sometimes we have a hard time communicating with other teachers. They really don't understand art and or teaching art. So I guess we need to explain it to them. To them it looks like just a bunch of arts and crafts . They see us as so talented. So asking us for these favors they believe we can just whip them up in minutes. We need to enlighten them. Hopefully in a nonthreatening way,humor helps.

  • StephieArtTeacher 02/01/2013 at 03:45pm
    I get this constantly, a million times a year. We are a small campus with prek-12th grade all on the same campus, and I am the only art teacher and I started the program. If I have time for it and I think it is something that will come out better if me or the art kids make it, then I will say yes. The downside to this if you make something spectacular once, the needs will increase, as well as the wants and then comes the desire to always top yourself and not let anyone down (at least for me, I have a hard time with "no") However, I have learned that if it is something they could do themselves but are trying to pass it off to you because "you are more creative" but in all reality it's cause it's easier and they are being lazy and think if they stroke your ego a little you will do it, then you gotta start saying no. Teachers do not understand how much work it takes to do art lessons and teach classes, they sometimes think we just play all day and so helping them is no problem. So I would say take every situation differently, but don't be someone who can't so no or it will drive you mad!

  • rlaurenzi 02/01/2013 at 03:55pm
    HA HA HA HA! I have had THAT EXACT same request - the tree - so many times! I have made so many trees, I am thinking, is that ALL you can think of? EVERY year? I am cracking up right now!

    I have been thinking about doing this: Make a request form and give each teacher one form. On the form, write that they need to turn it in at least a week in advance. If you only give them one form, they can only request one thing all year. On the form you could also include the line: "In return for this favor, I will _______ ." Provide options like, "cover my morning/afternoon/lunch duty for 2 days", or "donate a box of tissues or hand-wipes". I am sure that the fact that they'd need to do you a favor in return will deter some of them from asking.

  • gingerose 02/18/2013 at 05:27pm
    Interesting, I am reading this thread from the other side of the fence. when I read the title I thought, a tree, really why can't you make your own tree? They are not that difficult.

    I love the idea of a request form with the "In return for this favor, I will _____." i would think that I should be will to return the favor if someone is doing something like that for me.

  • MsAlkire 02/27/2013 at 08:32pm
    I had trouble with teachers asking me to borrow supplies often and then not return them until the last day of school. So at our yearly Grade level chair meeting when we were discussing our staff handbook I asked that there be put an amendment that says that teachers cannot ask the art teacher to borrow supplies. This way I could just say "Sorry I can't, thats in the staff handbook." :)

  • Astabeth 02/28/2013 at 01:25pm
    Rlaurenzi, I would love to know if you have any takers!

    I won't loan out consumables (paint, markers, etc.), but if a teacher needs to borrow a brush or something similar I will.

    As far as the "will you do..." I have taken the same approach I take with knitting. When someone asks if I will knit them something, I tell them I would love to teach them how to knit and would be happy to help them knit it. I have never had anyone take me up on this, even though I have taught hundreds of people to knit.

    I once had a teacher ask me to paint banners of famous people for her church! I told her no, but I would be happy to ask if any of my students would be willing. She was suddenly no longer interested.

    I get out of a lot of stuff by simply saying, "oh, you don't want me to paint that - I was a ceramics major!"

  • rachinator 02/28/2013 at 06:29pm
    It's funny, but most requests are the day of or day before it is needed. I like the recognition for getting a favor done so quickly, but really? How did they think it was going to get done?

    Anyone who asks me for poster board looks at me like I am the devil when I say nope, can't spare any. One teacher (who called me on the phone and whom I have no idea who she is...) went as far as to argue with me about not giving her poster board. She didn't see the problem with giving her 30 pieces of heavy duty board that I ordered online.....

  • RuthByrne 03/03/2013 at 01:49pm
    Rachinator, that's awful! My school keeps a supply closet the teachers "order" from. The admins/school culture makes it clear that materials come from the closet so people don't ask for much more than brushes or buckets now and again. For you this may be one for the principal.

    Rlaurenzi, That's an interesting idea! setting up a culture of reciprocity might even work. Never ask for more than you can return!