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Career Story: Public School Art Teacher

Public School Art Teacher

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in Connecticut.

Education: MA, Education

Previous Experience: I did some student teaching, some coaching and taught workshops and adult education.

Job Tasks: I now work as an art teacher in northern Connecticut where I am responsible for implementing an art curriculum which is based on the National and State Standards for Art education. In a typical school year, I have about five hundred students whom I see once a week for forty-five minutes. Because I am teaching at the elementary level, I travel to another school once a week to pick up more classes. The average class size at my school, because of budget cuts is about 26-28 children. Many of the lessons I teach are thematic units which relate to my students' academic curriculum. When my sixth grade students are studying Egypt, for example, I may do an art lesson on making canopic jars out of clay. Other lessons, like creating radial patterns or tessellations, relate to their math classes.

Students learn about famous artists and make connections between art and their own life experiences

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is combining my love for art and children. My students show an excitement and enthusiasm when they come into the art room. They love being able to use their imaginations and higher order thinking skills when creating their work. I am always amazed by how I can give a problem for my students to solve and I get twenty-five very different and creative answers.

The worst part of my job is probably the traveling around town. You have to be very organized so you don't forget supplies at another school.

Job Tips: When studying to become an art teacher, try to get into a classroom and observe art teachers "at work." I have had many high school students come in for an hour after they get out of school and volunteer. They get experience working with children and get a feel for what it's really like to teach. My district has internships that can be arranged through the high school guidance department. Any jobs working with children are a plus on your resume.

I also suggest taking as many art studio classes as possible and compiling a portfolio of your own work. Getting hands-on experience is a great way for you to build confidence in what you teach the kids.

Additional Thoughts: A common misconception is that art is just hands-on and having fun. People don't realize the connection that art teachers make to their curriculum. We teach Art History, reading, math and higher order thinking skills. I think as an art teacher you really have to make parents see the value of what you teach, especially in this economy.

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