<< My problem is that I have been hearing many negative things about
being an art teacher, and I need some support here. Do art instructors really
get such little respect from collegues? From students? From higher ups? I
would appriciate any words of wisdom >>
It depends a lot on what the mindset of your school is. In many schools,
the arts (music, visual art, theatre, and dance) are considered to be just
"icing on the cake." I find this sad, as these are what give us meaning and
depth during the course of our lives.
There are some schools where the arts are the focus of the curriculum.
These are few in comparison to the rest of the "norm," but they do exist.
Positions within these schools are often highly prized!
It's not all doom and gloom though. We, who are employed as arts
educators, have learned that we have to educate the students, we have to
educate the public, the rest of the teaching staff, and the administration.
Arrange for public exhibitions in public libraries and businesses. Invite
classroom teachers to come in and participate in particular lessons that tie
in with their curriculum. Ask principals and superintendants to come
participate with the art classes. They can model for a drawing class, or even
sit down and participate right along with the students. Let them see how much
work goes into the arts. And make the students responsible for themselves.
They are responsible for returning materials, cleaning up their workspace,
etc. Root your lessons in art history, from the dawn of time till the
present, to show them just how credible art is, and how much it touches our
Nobody is going to blow the horn for our subject areas, so we have to be
the ones to promote our discipline. Sound that trumpet LOUD!
When I started at my present job 12 years ago, I heard a lot of "Well,
our previous art teacher didn't do this."...."But we need stuff to decorate
our classrooms"...from the classroom teachers (I teach at the elementary
level). I started digging heavily into teaching art history and multicultural
projects. Now, I have teachers looking forward to when I do particular
projects each year, as they now have planned lessons that tie into MY
curriculum. One example is this....the second grades cover "Africa" in their
multicultural studies. I decided to play off of this, and started doing a
four week project of papier mache calabash bowls. Now, they hold an African
market/festival each year, which stars our calabash bowls as an intrical part
of event. It is possible to meet your curriculum requirements and get the
teachers to play along with you.
Don't get discouraged....it's not all that bad....
Batavia City Schools