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Re: [teacherartexchange] Being a New teacher


From: Diane C. Gregory (dianegregory_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jul 14 2006 - 12:50:14 PDT

I have been teaching preservice art teachers for over 25 years. I still have
not figured out how to do it effectively. There is a systemic problem in
teacher education and universities. It seems that most universities are not
about learning. It is about buildings, programs, enrollment, jobs, careers,
administration policies...rarely is it about learning...So I find it very
challenging to try to help art teachers get a good start. An entire overhall
is needed. I would like to see more partnerships with schools. I would like
to work with K-12 schools to stay involved in teaching K-12. I would like to
see my students working in the schools every day. I would like to see my
students focus on helping K-12 art students how to learn about art. Right now,
the whole university thing seems to be a right of passage...and then you can get
out and learn how to teach. Maybe art teachers get a clue about doing this
effectively after about 10 years or so. As a teacher educator the state of
affairs is disheartening. Nevertheless, I am not giving up...God knows I love
this field. I hope I have helped someone become a better person and a better
art teacher. With each new semester, hope springs eternal.

This is my .02 cents.

Dr. Diane C. Gregory
Director, Undergraduate & Graduate
Studies in Art Education
Texas Woman's University
Denton, TX  76204
Quoting Patricia Knott <>:
> The one thing I hear from new teachers is  "I really wasn't prepared
> for....."    I won't begin to list the   "was-nots"
> Mostly it is routine stuff, that many of us take for granted.
> Many school systems have mentors for new teachers , but from what I
> read, I suspect many new teachers are set out to fend for themselves.
> I wonder what is not happening in our pre-service programs. ?     I
> know that there are a few on this list that direct student teacher
> programs and do excellent jobs with being on top of the latest and
> best information. My experience with student teachers is that they
> have no idea how to handle all the day to day on top of creating
> lessons. And it is my opinion that the first year of teaching is so
> overwhelming as to procedures and management that being creative with
> lessons becomes something there is little time for.  Scattered,
> unprepared thinking in lessons only creates management problems.
> Trust and rely on stuff you are sure of, even if the lesson is not so
> new.
> But, constantly there are stories on this list about people coming
> from places that may not be so new.   I'm thinking about Staci who is
> knocking herself out trying to learn a skill that she is unfamiliar
> with. She is getting tons of support from this list, but what is the
> "in-school" support?   When she spends her summer learning the skill
> and then gets into an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar curriculum
> (If I recall Staci said this a magnet school with an IB curriculum)
> with an age group she isn't accustomed to, who will be there to help
> her with the day to day which is often the down fall of new
> teachers?  Being prepared is much more than conveying the skills.
> Being prepared is understanding the needs and interests  of the
> students and conveying that into meaningful lessons with purpose and
> intent.
> I started teaching after many years in an art  career. I thought I
> knew about art. I wasn't sure about teaching art.   My 14 years have
> been filled with constant preparation, I barely slept my first 2
> years  and I barely sleep now. It's not the "stuff" that keeps me
> awake now, it's the methods of conveying the stuff.    Every year the
> kids are different, every year they are more or less of something,
> but every year there is that bunch of faces hoping I will give some
> reason for why they are sitting there.
> My best advice for new teachers, is don't pretend anything ---- be
> honest when you don't know and make it into an experience.    First
> and most you need to establish a class environment that makes every
> kid feel safe and free to explore and make mistakes and investigate
> at their own pace and expectations ( and that includes your own
> safety). Make every day a new day.  The luxury of teaching art is
> that the pace and expectations  can be choice based.
> It really concerns me that there are still conversations about the
> "artist as teacher"  and those that still say "those that can't -
> teach... "
> That attitude totally demoralizes the motivation of those of us that
> want to teach and disregards the reasons we teach. My skills as a
> teacher come very much from from how I learned to be an artist.  And,
> one does learn how to be an artist. Gifts,skills and talent are not
> enough.   What I think artists that teach bring to the classroom is
> the "process"     -- how do we get to ideas and communicate the
> idea.  I'm lucky that all my artist/teachers knew how to ask the
> questions to make me think.    I can cajole and manipulate thinking
> about technique, but the best thing I do as a teacher is ask WHY?
>   I still can't throw a pot and I don't care to. But I love hand
> building and don't disregard what I can do with a slab.  Does that
> make me less of a ceramic artist?     I was always penalized because
> I don't care about  pulling a shape on the wheel. I don't want to
> make a mug or a vase. But I can take ugly stuff and combine it with
> other techniques and make something out of it.
> So what processes do we value? And how do we let kids know that we
> value the exploration even when the product may not be an "A?"
> I'll end with what Woody says:
> > Most of our students will never go into art as a profession. We
> > need to teach
> > all students to appreciate and understand art. Don't neglect the
> > serious ones
> > but teaching art should be with a very broad brush.
> A broad brush indeed. ... that gives kids lots of opportunity to
> make, and to appreciate, and plenty of opportunity to question.
> Patty
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