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I know the feeling. What recently helped me was reading through the
book 'The First Days of School' by Harry & Rosemary Wong (1991) in terms
of this problem of the perception of art teachers. When I read this book I
tried to re-examine myself and the way I project myself as an art teacher
at the Elementary school level. How can I project a more professional
image as an art teacher, not as a blue collar type? How can I incorporate
better andmore comprehensive multicultural lessons and
interrelated/interdisciplinary lessons in the art room that can really
knock their (principals, teachers, parents) socks off? Perhaps I need to
avoid other teachers that are always griping and complaining or putting
down seminars, mtgs, workshops, etc. Maybe I need to get more involved in
'school spirit' type activities, even though I feel busy as it is. But
then, doesn't everyone??
They stress in the book that some teachers (about 20%) are real
"Leaders/teachers" while most (about 80%) see themselves as just
"workers/teachers". The leaders dress more professionally, are
optimistic, sit in the front rows at mtgs. and in-service seminars, and
generally get involved in other school projects, and are willing to serve
as team leaders or officers in organizations.
The workers watch the clock, sit in the back rows, often complain and find
fault, don't sign up for workshops, etc.
Quite frankly, a number of the art teachers I've observed, worked with or
heard about see themselves (and dress the part, act the part) as workers
and not leaders.
I think as art teachers we are
all going to have to be taken more seriously in our respective schools
than we are now. Perhaps by adhering more to Wong's standards we (art
teachers) can change other teachers and the administrators perception of
us as being marginalized teachers off to the side in our own worlds, or
"relief time" for the other teachers/subjects. Even though we all
(teachers in the Arts) know that art, music, dance, drama is just as
important to a child's education and well-being as are math, science,
languages, social studies; we can't make or wish other teachers/
principals understand this unless we join the 20% who are the 'Leaders' as
Wong points out.
On Wed, 23 Apr
1997 VSBORGAN wrote:
> Ellyn and the rest of us,
> Ellyn's complaint is all too common! Art and Music are "Relief time" for
> the "real teachers". I know, the way in which we perceive OURSELVES can go a
> long ways towards increasing credibility and visibility. but a basic
> scheduling dilemna exists in public schools across America.
> Is there a school district that has made the needs of students' arts
> experiences as important (or even more important!) than planning time for
> classroom teachers?
> Please share it with us!!
> Vera in Springfield, MA