December 29, 2015

Art Room Magic in 2016!

Happy new year! I am looking forward to a very positive 2016, and I just finished a great book that can help to improve your life AND your art room!

We hosted my husband’s family in our home on the day after Christmas this year, and we had a very competitive Yankee Swap. My niece, who is 15 years old, chose and unwrapped this book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō. The book choice got applause from the adults (especially her mom) and a groan from the teenager. And then in a tragic twist of fate, my niece swapped the book for my Starbucks coffee sampler and Lindor truffles. Darn you, Yankee Swap!!!!!!!!

But my mother-in-law has impeccable taste in books, and said that this one was a best seller. I am never one to turn away a good book recommendation, so I started reading it the next day. It was actually very hard to put down. This book made me think about how I view the things in my life and home. I had thought I was a really organized person. Who knew I was putting away socks wrong my entire life???!!!!

Part of the magic of tidying up, according to author Marie Kondō, is how the process of tidying makes you think about what is truly important in your life. It also helps build confidence in your own decision-making power!

I also realized that the KonMari Method of tidying up can be applied to the art room.
Here’s how I will use the method in my art room this year, and how you can, too:

A very inspiring book! Read it to start 2016!
1. Discard items that do not “spark joy”. I do feel joy when I look at art supplies that I love teaching my students how to use. There are other things that… well “joy” would not be my choice of word! Throw out items that have broken or past shelf life. If you think you have stuff that is good enough for someone else to use, don’t keep it. Ask colleagues first if they could use it, then post items that are good enough to use on a Facebook art educator’ group page. Get it into the hands of someone who’ll use it.

2. Overbuying and stockpiling items you never end up using is actually wasteful. Stop saving for the Art-mageddon. Reams of old yellowed paper and moldy tempera is not going to save you when the zombies come.

3. Don’t feel guilty about discarding items that served their purpose at some point. Look at them, feel and express gratitude, and then get rid of them. I have binders full of old documents, outdated lesson plans, and paperwork, and books that I never use since the internet machine came along. They served their purpose and it is okay to let them go. This is what recycle bins were made for.

4. Shoeboxes are the perfect size and structure for lots of storage areas! If you’ve read my posts, you know I love plastic totes, and I still do; but I am impressed by the the many ways the author describes using shoeboxes as well as Apple product boxes for basic storage needs. And they are free. Bonus: now you have more reasons to buy new shoes.

5. Show your art supplies gratitude. Thank them out loud or silently for helping you in your creative process. Thank the art room and the things in it for its hard work on your behalf. Okay, I know this sounds a little much, but one of the things I notice is how little our students respect their belongings or others’. They feel entitled to take what they need; they leave behind expensive jackets or books without a thought. My students have so much, that they take for granted the importance of the things we use every day, and how fortunate we are to have them. The act of thanking the objects for their work makes us consider and treat the things we use with a different level of appreciation and care.

If you have a chance, this book is a quick read and worth your time. It will make you think about what you surround yourself with at home and at school. I don’t know if it’s truly magic, but we’ll see how it works in my art room in 2016!

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