Topics to Avoid and Why

One day you will find yourself in a work environment. You will want to present yourself in the best way you know how. I want to help you learn how to do that.
Let’s start with conversations. It is appropriate to talk to your family and close friends about almost anything.
When it comes to acquaintances or people you don’t know very well, you will want to avoid awkwardness or embarrassment.
Here are some things to consider off limits:

  • Conflicts with other people
    It might feel good in the moment to vent about someone who irritates you but gossip mostly makes you look immature.
    People start to wonder if you talk about them behind their back, too.
    If it gets back to the person (and it will), it can also turn a small disagreement into a big deal.
    If you need to vent, call your friends outside of school.
  • Money
    Talking casually about your spending habits can make others feel resentful, especially those with heavier financial obligations.
  • Partying
    People don’t necessarily want to hear the gory details of your debaucherous weekend, no matter how fun it was for you.
    Whatever your preferences are when it comes to your leisure time, in most cases you don’t need to lie about it.
    Think in terms of translating it into a school-friendly story. 
    “My weekend was craaaaazy. I went out and got absolutely trashed on Friday and I didn’t get home until Sunday evening. I think I lost my keys! Hahaha! Wild!”
    For instance, the comment above could be translated into “I had a really fun weekend! I went out with some friends and had a great time on Friday.” 
    Both use the same basic facts to tell a very different story.
  • Health Problems
    This can be different if it’s someone you’re close to, but stay away from discussing it in general group settings or with people you don’t know well.
    Someone talking at length about their health concerns has to be one of the most boring, self-centered TMIs you can sit through, especially if it’s a favorite topic of theirs.
    “My doctor says I have leaky gut, and it’s probably linked to my joint inflammation. I’m so bloated right now! After my last trip to the specialist, my health insurance said…”
    I once went on a travel tour and one of the other travelers – who I had never met before – thought that her food intolerances would be a fun topic to discuss with me at length, and on repeated occasions. They were not.
    I avoided her for the rest of the trip.
    Nobody wants to know about your toes, ear infection, medication, or assortment of allergies. Keep it to yourself at school, unless specifically asked about it, or unless you need to disclose it to a guidance counselor or therapist.
  • Religion
    Whether you’re a staunch atheist or devoutly religious, that’s your business. Likewise, other people’s religious beliefs aren’t great small talk fodder.
  • Jokes at anyone’s expense
    Punching down is on par with gossiping.
    Sure, it might feel good at the time, but chances are someone will pass it along or overhear it.
    All of a sudden you’ve really hurt someone’s feelings.
    Everyone deserves to be respected at school. 
    Imagine if someone did it to you. How would you feel?
    “Oh yeah, hanging out with Bruce is about as fun as a poke in the eye with a hot stick. Nah nah, Bruh I’m only joking buddy! Don’t get all twisted up about it!”
    This is also a really dangerous one. A sarcastic joke could be interpreted the way you didn’t intend, and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a disciplinary hearing for inappropriate behavior.
    Best to stay away altogether.
  • Physical Appearance
    Weight, skin, or hair.
    “Wow, you’ve lost weight and your acne is totally clearing up! You look great.”
    Making comments about people’s weight is damaging, not just to the person but also potentially anybody.
    A drastic hair cut, weight loss, or appearance in skin might be caused by a medical condition they are sensitive about. Wait for them to bring it up.
    You would never want to come across as diminishing someone’s worth as a person, based only on their appearance.
    This sort of talk tacitly reinforces cultural beauty standards, which are impossibly narrow and lead to lots of physical and psychological problems.

Ten Topics That Work

  • Sports Discussing the outcome of last night’s game and great plays is always a safe subject.
  • Weather You can’t go wrong here. In Florida, there is always something to talk about.
  • TV Shows and Movies This is a great topic for good discussions with people you know pretty well that have similar taste.
  • News This can be difficult if you get into politics, but if you are quoting a recent news story or article you just read, it can lead to some interesting discussions.
  • Food Likes, dislikes, recipes, restaurants, etc.
  • Topics covered in lessons Sharing opinions on lessons from class often leads to a better understanding of the material. Sharing and copying of homework is not a good thing.
  • Excellent Clothing Items Compliments on clothing is not the same as commenting on personal appearance. Stick to clothes and you will not offend.
  • Books Many people love to read but are searching for the next good thing to read. Books you already have in common makes for great discussions.
  • Travel Where you have been, where you wish to go, where you are originally from. This can be over-done if you always lead with “When I lived in _____…”
  • Ask Questions of others. Where are you from originally? Do you have brothers or sisters? What’s your story? The key here is sincerity. Don’t ask if you don’t want to listen to the response.

How to Behave and Why

The art room is designed to foster artistic behaviors. In order for all artists to enjoy the experience, the following rules will apply:

  1. Food, drinks, candy, gum are not allowed in the Art room. A bottle of WATER is allowed.
    Eating and creating art both require the use of your hands. Much of the art we create is messy, and you should not consume residue or touch food after you have used classroom art supplies.
  2. Instructions begin immediately after the bell. If you are not in the room before they begin, you must wait outside until they are finished. Interruptions cause the flow of information to stop and restart. This may lead to missed pieces of information that are important to doing an assignment correctly.
  3. Quiet conversations with students at your table is fine. Make sure you wait until your instructor is finished. The assumption that everyone in the room wants or needs to hear what you are saying is often incorrect.
  4. Draw, paint, etc. on your artwork only! Touching someone else’s work without their permission is relative to assault in the art world. If they give you permission, think carefully on whether you want someone else to take credit for your work, because they will.
  5. Use materials from your tote-tray only… don’t go into other people’s trays. If you are missing something, ask your instructor first. This way we can keep track of what needs to be replaced.
  6. Tools Not Toys. Take care of the supplies as if they were your own. Help them last longer.
  7. If you must swear, please do it elsewhere… Thanks.
  8. Leave it clean. Work together to do this every day. If you get something out, put it away. If you spill something, clean it up.
  9. Be sweet… treat classmates fairly and nicely. Stay positive.

What Happens When I Don’t Do These Things?

You will begin to make things uncomfortable for your classmates. In order for everyone in class to have the best learning experience, we have a plan in place to secure a safe and welcoming learning environment:

First Offense

A verbal reminder from your instructorin most instances, this should be enough.

Second Offense

Parent/guardian contactlet them know that you had a hard time today.

Third Offense

Parent/guardian contact and administration is notifiedthis is also known as a referral. Referrals have varied levels of severity that correspond to the infraction according to the Santa Rosa County School District Student Code of Conduct.


  1. All assignments must be completed on or before the due date.
  2. Unfinished artwork is given a 60 on the due date regardless of progress. You may finish at home on your own time and resubmit for a higher score (not in class.)
  3. If you are absent, it is your job to ask your instructor for make up work when you return. You will complete the make up work on your own time. You can sign out art supplies if needed. Instructors’ office hours are 8:30-9:00am
  4. Each project has a rubric with specific requirements and guidelines. Follow them.
  5. Unless an assignment specifically requires copying, it will be interpreted in the same manner as plagiarism.

Phone Etiquette

Good manners are a sign of maturity and consideration of others. It’s easy to get caught up in our cell phones, as it provides nearly everything at our fingertips. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when interacting with others, whether formally or informally.


Give your undivided attention to the people you are with. Be present in the moment.

Put your phone away. Put your phone on vibrate or silent and tuck it away. Avoid placing it on the table as it is impolite and you may find yourself distracted or tempted to check it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Excuse yourself to use your phone while you are with someone. Acknowledge the people you are with before looking at the screen.

Respect common quiet zones. Always silence or turn off your phone and put it away in places like churches, theaters, libraries, meetings, and classrooms.


Wear ear devices. There is a time and place to use them, but keeping them in your ears while you are with people who are trying to communicate with you implies that you think more of yourself than of them.

Take pictures or videos of people without their permission. If you see someone taking your photo without your permission, it’s your right to ask him or her to stop.

Play videos or music out loud. Content might be offensive to someone.

Make people wait. You are devaluing their time. When you’re at a restaurant or in line to order, put your phone away so that you’re ready when they get to you. You’re not only making the staff wait, but you’re also making everyone else wait.

Text and drive. Just don’t. It can wait – put your phone away for the safety of yourself and others.