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Career Story: Art Teacher At A Public High School

Art Teacher At A Public High School

Job Title: Teacher

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

Education: BA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill •• I also attended grad school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Previous Experience: I had done some volunteer work and worked on my own as an artist.

Job Tasks: I teach beginning through advanced art classes, including sculpture and AP Art at the high school level. My job puts me in contact with 15-18 year olds. I teach ceramics, painting and drawing in the basic classes, and portfolio building in the AP class. I also have other duties involving monitoring public areas, serving on committees and showing up for teacher/parent events like the PTA and the school art show. Particularly rewarding is teaching beginner classes where the level of enthusiasm is high and all the information is new. Students are amazed by their growing abilities.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of the job is the conflict and discipline. Teenagers tend to be testing the rules all the time. They often lie rather than have an adult think ill of them. They tend to over-dramatize events and to flash back and forth between childishness and wanting to be adults. Keeping their respect and attention and communicating strong positive values are both big parts of the job.

The best parts of the job are the shared humor, watching kids learn new things and develop enthusiasm for them. I love to see them develop their own creative ideas and run with them, doing far more than I would have predicted. I also love it when they decide to become art teachers themselves. It's great taking them to museums and having them refer months later to artists whose work they saw, and having them recognize the connections between great ideas.

Job Tips:
1.) Don't be discouraged by your first year.

2.) Study discipline as hard as you study your content area.

3.) Be consistent and firm. If it's fun to teach it, it's probably fun to learn it.

Additional Thoughts: This job takes physical and emotional stamina. I have learned that I have to have eight hours sleep, eat a hearty breakfast, and exercise to undercut the tensions. I think it's also important to always be experiencing new learning myself to keep my teaching fresh.

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