>. . . the principal . . . asked ME how much I would need to purchase all the supplies for a school yr. . . I didnt really know HOW much to ask for, as I never did a budget before. . . . can you help me in how to answer this question the next time I am asked? -- Jeanette
You have received some excellent budgeting ideas from others in this group.
If I were interviewing a new art teacher, I would not expect a novice candidate to know very much about budgets, but I might ask the question in order to see how the candidate handles a question. The candidate's response may help me understand what kind of art teacher I am interviewing.
In the classroom, students often come to the art teacher with questions for which the art teacher may or may not have good answers. Some art teachers tend to be ready with an answer or a suggestion for nearly every student question. They are always ready with suggestions when students ask for advice on their projects. Being thought of as an expert is a nice ego trip for us. However, if I were an enlightened principal, I might see that this practice nurtures dependency and the erroneous idea that there are certain right answers for everything in art.
Other art teachers practice more creative teaching strategies that nurture more divergent thinking habits. They do not give many answers and refrain from making suggestions. They do not show examples. Their students do not copy. They are not prone to demonstrate one correct result. They feel that their role is to coach independent thinkers. They help students set up experiments to find answers. They conduct practice sessions. They give assignments ahead of time and expect students to think about them for a few weeks and do sketches before starting. When a student asks for advice, these teachers turn the questions around and ask the student for several ideas to consider, and so on. These teachers nurture divergent creative thinking and choice making in art. They nurture independent thinking. If I were an enlightened principal, I would see that this teaches life long learning.
If a principal asked me how large a budget I would need, I might smile and ask the principal what quality they they would like to see in my teaching. I might ask them about the cost of text books, library materials, office supplies, and so on, and ask them which each areas they feel deserve good support - including art. Some art teachers work with very little money for supplies, but all their prep time and creative energy is used to scrounge for stuff. We might be allowed to ask the students to bring supplies from home, but students forget, or may not have the resources.
Some art teachers send home a note to all parents mentioning the art budget problem. The note mentions that many parents work in places that produce lots of scrap and waste that could be used to make things in an art class. Because storage is short, they do not accept these supplies until needed, but they request a single sample or description of what is available from their place of work. By seeing all the samples, the teacher and the students invent assignments that can creatively use free materials. Some factory scrap materials work in still life set ups, some as assemblage, some as collage, some for printing and stamping, some as support for drawing and painting, some for framing/mounting/presentation of artwork, and some work as pigment, tonal additives, and texture in artwork. In Goshen we have one cabinet factory that sends six truck loads of wood scrap the to county landfill every day.
Having said this, I would probably not take a job without a budget unless it was the only job I could get. I would do not want to be at the mercy of a principal for every purchase.
I visited a country where the kids used bundles of old plastic bags to make their soccer ball. When and where sports teams have to scrounge their balls and make their own uniforms, it may also be fair for art teachers and children to scrounge for art materials.
Dr. Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171??
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time or a teacher working on a budget before ever teaching.