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Re: [teacherartexchange] teaching multiple classes


From: Diane C. Gregory (dianegregory_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Sep 19 2005 - 18:12:13 PDT

Hi Michal and others,

I would certainly not turn students away...but I do think there is some room to
let it be known that teaching multiple classes with too many students is
sometimes not the best educational experience. There is also room to let the
district understand that art needs to be a required class. Some states do
require arts courses for high school graduation and I see it as both a working
conditions issue as well as an advocacy issue. Art needs and should be on
equal footing with other classes. Are English teachers and math teachers
required to teach multiple courses at once? There are ways to advocate for
what is sound educationally without alienating people. This is the type of
advocacy I would promote. Call it positive, assertive advocacy...more students
can be kept interested in art when we provide quality art learning experiences.
We can do that best when we have reasonable working conditions. Of course, one
needs to work within the system and form positive, professional relationships
with others. This can not happen overnight. Forming strong, helping
relationships with others over time can help any art teacher to advocate for
reasonable working conditions so that students can get the best art education.
Accepting multiple classes without saying anything about it can be mistaken as
approval and doing so can set a precedent that will eventually be impossible to
change since...this is the way it is always done...and making the art teacher
feel like they are somehow being disloyal or uncaring about the needs of their
students if they dare say anything. Nothing could be further from the
truth...It is out of care and wanting to improve conditions that we advocate so

As a university professor who teaches art education within a largely studio
dominated program, I must constantly advocate for art education even among
people who are themselves artists. I am fortunate that when I express a need
or want to change things to make them better in our art education program, I
get support. However, art education is still the low program on the totem
pole so to speak and I don't kid myself. So even at the college/university
level advocacy is a big part of the job! :-) In fact, it is the biggest part of
the job. Even though the road ahead is hard for my pre-service art teachers, I
feel it is essential for them to develop positive, assertive and professional
advocacy skills. As part of that process it is essential for them to
understand what are reasonable and non-reasonable working conditions. Not to
say, that we do not work with what exists, but we strive to improve the
programs that we are handed.

> The problem with my district is that we are limited in scheduling. If I only
> allow my high school students to take Art 1, then there is no other
> alternative for them. There are conflicts with required courses with every
> grade level. We have 2 English teachers, 2 math teachers, 1 science teacher,
> 1 social studies teacher, so students have to take their required classes
> when they are offered. I am on the scheduling committee, and there is NO
> solution that works well for everyone. I don't offer mixed levels within a
> class to keep my job - I do it to keep students interested in art. I have
> taught this year's seniors since they were in first grade, and there's not a
> single one of them that I could turn away. That's my .02
> ~Michal
> K-12 Kansas Art Teacher
> >I agree...I don't think that it's best practice and it's not about wanting
> >an ideal situation but what is right for kid's educational needs.
> >
> > we are professionals and as such need to communicate the why and how this
> > affects learning, etc. If we keep "taking it" apparently to keep our
> > jobs, then "they" will never know the impact and the consequences or be
> > able to make informed decisions.
> >
> > I'm not advocating classes of 6, but certainly reasonable ones and of
> > course we all must pick our own battles...
> > just my thoughts, Linda in Oregon
> >

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