SchoolArts Magazine

May-June 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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P O I N T O F V I E W Reflections of a Veteran Art Teacher 14 SchoolArts Continued on page 41. S ince I retired from the class- room, I have been a national art education consultant and presenter working for the Bureau of Education and Research out of Bellevue, Washington. Through this experience I have presented full- day workshops in thirty states and Canada, and have had the privilege of meeting and presenting to hundreds of middle- and high-school art teachers. A few surprising things have given me insights into our journey as artists/ teachers. Some schools really honor their art education programs, while others struggle for even basic recognition. Some art programs are well supported, while others are very poorly funded. But one thing I have noticed is the sheer number of dedicated teachers working each and every day to bring out the best in every student. They need to be commended for their dedi- cation and hard work, especially in the light of the challenges they face. Practical Challenges Unfortunately, teachers today need to become even more resourceful than ever. More teachers need to open themselves up to the possibility of asking for and acquiring free materi- als. One can start by asking fellow teachers, parents, students, and the larger community. Discarded and unwanted materials will often support new ideas for student expression. Another source of funding is grant money that is available on local, state, and national levels. Most grant appli- cations are not that difficult to write, and once you write one, you can use that same information for others. Curriculum Challenges I sometimes see art teachers who are stuck in a rut, using the same lessons year after year. This repetition can diminish the teacher's enthusiasm. One way to address this issue is to take the same ingredients of a les - son and mix them up. For example, one might change a two-dimensional color project and make it three- dimensional. Twice I have worked for a large district in Tampa, Florida, where the art supervisor was in charge of 123 K–12 art teachers. She stressed to them the importance of replacing 20% of what they were presently doing with new projects each year. This approach can breathe new life into both the art teacher and the program, and have a positive effect on student work. Professional Challenges Another realization I had was that most art teachers are the only art teacher in their school. Often, how other teachers and administrators per - ceive art education is placed squarely on the art teacher's shoulders. Every time student art - work is exhibited, it is a reflection of how much the teacher cares about and believes in the importance of the art program. When art teachers have opportuni- ties for professional development, it Ken Vieth We need to find new ways to inspire creativity in our students so they can see the limitlessness of their human potential for personal expression. Search out meaning- ful opportunities for professional develop- ment such as those that immerse you in another culture. Here master weaver Nelson Perez Men- doza demonstrates dyeing yarn in a folk art workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Nancy Walkup.

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