How The High School Art Class Syllabus Sets the Tone for Greatness

How to use the art syllabus to outline grading policy and procedures for high school art teachers.

Why do I Need a High School Art Class Syllabus?


Building Trust in the Art Classroom

Creating an environment where creativity thrives is at the heart of what we do as art educators. It’s not just about teaching techniques; it’s about fostering a mindset where students feel empowered to explore, take risks, and express themselves authentically. This requires more than just providing art supplies; it demands building a foundation of trust between teacher and student.


The Foundation of Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful teacher-student relationship. When students trust their teacher, they’re more willing to engage in the learning process, take risks, and push themselves beyond their comfort zones. This trust is built through genuine care, empathy, and respect for each student’s unique journey. It’s about creating a safe space where students feel valued, understood, and supported, regardless of their skill level or background.


Establishing a Welcoming Environment

Creating a welcoming environment is essential for cultivating trust in the art classroom. This means greeting students with warmth and enthusiasm, taking the time to get to know them as individuals, and creating a sense of belonging where everyone feels included and respected. It’s about fostering a culture of collaboration, where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and supporting one another’s creative endeavors.


The Importance of Clear Expectations

Clear expectations are essential for building trust and creating a sense of security in the classroom. When students know what is expected of them, they feel more confident in their abilities and are better able to focus on their work. This is where the high school art class syllabus comes in. 


Everybody’s art class rules, policies, and procedures will be different.  However, the most important thing is that you have them and that students don’t have to guess what they are. 

Your syllabus should clearly outline what your expectations are for students in a way that makes them feel confident they can succeed in your class.  Some things you may want to include in your middle or high school art syllabus are: 

  • Your systems for storing projects
  • Your system for submitting projects
  • Your cleanup procedures
  • Expectations for what to do when leaving the classroom to use the restroom, guidence, etc.
  • Instructions on where to gather and return supplies
  • Your grading policy 
  • Cell phone policy
  • Your contact information
  • Any join codes or instructions for joining your digital classroom

Once you have everything outlined and in writing, it is a good idea to post them where both parents and students can refer back to them.  I have them sign or digitally aknowledge the document, just to clarify that they saw and received a copy.  This is helpful in case there are any questions later.  

I like to use an ART Class Policy and Procedure Sheet with interesting fonts and graphics just to make everything a little more fun and easier to read and understand.  You can use any style that works for you.


Ensuring Visibility

Making the syllabus visible and accessible is key to its effectiveness. This means posting it in the classroom, sharing it digitally, and ensuring that both students and parents are aware of its contents. By making the syllabus readily available, teachers can reinforce expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page from day one.

Link it to your Google Classroom or digital platform,  post it on your website, include it in your first week of school slideshow, distribute hard copies to students, and hang it in your classroom.  I use Digital Portfolios in my class, so I also include a link to it in each student’s portfolio.  It is also very nice to distribute to parents at Back to School Night.


Consistency is Key

Just because you review and post your art syllabus does not mean students will immediately remember everything and adhere to what it says.

Consistency, modeling, and thanking students for a job well done is key.   It will take some repetition and review,  but if you continue to model and remind students daily it will become second nature and one less thing they need to consciously think about.

How using a syllabus in the high school art class to outline grading policies, procedures for submitting art projects, drawings, and assignments can set the tone for the year.


In conclusion, building trust in the art classroom is essential for fostering creativity, growth, and student success. By creating a welcoming environment, establishing clear expectations, and engaging students with the syllabus, teachers can lay the foundation for a positive and productive learning experience. When students trust their teacher and feel supported in their creative endeavors, they’re more likely to take risks, push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and ultimately, unlock their full artistic potential.


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