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I am an art teacher who has managed to make a living by sidestepping the
numerous state certification hurdles I have encountered for over 15 years.
I had a BA in Art History from CAL Berkeley and taught a lot of crafts
courses right after college. After a few years of this, I decided to
return to school to get an art ed certificate in Florida. I did all the
course work, which took almost two years, and immediately found a job in a
small private school. Since I had a job I decided not to finish the
program's student teaching or take the National Teachers Exam (now called
Praxis). In the ensuing years I have lived in three other states. When I
looked into certification (necessary for public school work) each state
told me I would have to take at least one year more of general education
classes and still do the student teaching. (One state told me to take the
Praxis exam and then apply through their appeals process for special
consideration since I had about six years of teaching under my belt. Some
$250 dollars later, my appeal was denied.)
I have taught high school for seven years at a private parochial school,
three years at a clinical school for LD kids, and many workshops at art
museums and arts centers. I have continued to make and show my own work
during this time.
Currently I work as an Artist-in-the-Schools resource teacher at two public
elementary schools, teach one art class at a private high school and am
director of a summer art academy. I have never had state art
certification. To teach in the Artist-in-the-Schools program, you must be
a professional artist but my teaching background gave me a definite edge.
I make more per hour as an artist teacher than I do as an art teacher.
I agree with Bunki and others that knowing the jargon of education in
general and being a politician for art is an absolute necessity. My post
grad work in art ed gave me the necessary general education background I
lacked in my art history major. However, I needed to go to work and once I
worked as a teacher, I was not willing to pay a university while I taught
someone else's classes. At this point in life (I'm 45 and have no spousal
income to lean on), I doubt I will return to college except to work on an
MFA--unless someone wants to pay me to go to school for something else.
I'm through spending money on certification applications.
I have spent a lot of time keeping abreast of art education issues (this
list helps a lot!), reading journals, having an active presence in my
schools and producing my own art work. I had a solid art background but
most of what I learned about teaching came on the job. Like many
artist-types, I'm just not very good at jumping through hoops. I think its
possible to be employed as an art teacher without going through them if you
really want it and do a good job at it. Of course there are fewer
employee benefits when you are not a full-timer, but my trade off is that I
can set my own schedule and work in a variety of situations. A also have
time to do my own art work.
Just because you are trained as an artist doesn't mean you have the skills
to teach, and I've seen many a trained art teacher who couldn't communicate
the magic of artistic creation. I think the best art teachers have to have
a little of both.
Sorry to ramble on so long. I just want you to know there are many of us
out here with odd backgrounds. Good luck.