All of us art teachers know that ART is the most important subject in school. Now we can all "hear" from art teachers around the world why this job is the best job in town. Students work better when their teacher is also motivated. These teachers LOVE their job and their students know it.
Here are Adrienne Hendrix's suggestions:
Having kindergartners storm you for hugs in the hallway on your way to lunch... regularly...
Teaching your students an impromptu "art song" that you made up on the spot, and hearing about that same crazy song that all the kids are singing from the parents, other teachers, and your substitute teacher...
Seeing the look on students' faces when they follow a technique you demonstrate/describe for them that they think is out of reach, but discover it isn't...
Hearing a student you taught last year helping a new student and repeating your instructions (good or bad!)...
Watching your middle school students actually cleaning up their messes before they leave... without your prompting (it does happen!)...
From Cindy Erickson - Choice Based Elementary Art Teacher:
Why do I teach art?
The look I see on a child's face when they create something original to them. It is a beautiful, shining, effervescent, glowing pride. It is different than the pride of academic achievement or the success of winning an athletic event. Creation comes from the soul and the look on a child's face reflects from the core of their being. That's what motivated me when I was a junior in high school and was selected to go teach at the elem. school ( where there was no art teacher) and it still motivates me today 20 (plus) years later.
From Grace Hall - High School Art Teacher
I teach art because I love to teach something I'm passionate about, I also enjoy being around young people (high school), and I truly believe I am an art teacher because it was what God intended for me.
From Aaron Allee - Middle School Art Teacher
What I like most about teaching art...
When 9-10 graders come to my art room and wish they were back in middle school to take my class.
When students leave my class saying, "I wish I can have your class all day!"
Note from Judy: Aaron wrote to me after he graduated from art college - now he has found teaching middle school art is the best job! I knew he would make a great teacher.
From Anne - Elementary Art Teacher:
I teach K-5 and often have students tell me they want to be an art teacher when they grow up. I love my job and I think my students look forward to art class all week. Many of them tell me they want to stay in my room when class is over and make art all day. How lucky am I?
From Kristin M. - Elementary Art Teacher:
Everyone remembers his or her first year teaching art. I remember feeling that, at times, the movement and noise level that I allowed in my class were viewed as inappropriate by other professionals around me. One day, my students were painting. I had my eye on one student in particular who was waving the paintbrush boldly and wiggling his body to an invisible beat. As I zoomed up to that student, ready to correct him, he turned around and said, "This is the BEST class!!! Where else can you dance with your paintbrush?!" That one comment has stayed with me. I realize that the arts allow for pure excitement and true expression. Students feel the freedom to be who they are and who they want to be. Art inspires our children, and in turn, our children continue to inspire us.
From Judy: Continue to let them dance with their paint brush! Dancing is not allowed in other classes (smile)
Kids DO need to move.... and art gives that freedom. Build some movement activities into your curriculum. Have them DANCE their favorite colors.... move in different line formations... Make different shapes with their bodies... Go for it.
Check out Songs in the Key of Art by Greg Percy... four volumes of great tunes for the art room... get them singing AND dancing.
From Chris Lincoln:
A wonderful moment this year: A kindergarten family went to dinner at a French restaurant, the student exclaimed, "Look mom, they have a Monet here too, just like the one Miss Lincoln showed us!"
From Woody Duncan- Middle School (retired)
Best Feelings in Teaching:
Years later, bumping into ex-students who tell you they still have the sculpture they made on display at home.
Hearing ex-students tell their spouses what a great experience your class was.
Being able to give glowing praise about "so called" problem students at parent teacher conferences.
Having the principle tell the art teacher that if her daughter went to this school, I'd want you teaching her reading.
Greeting students, by name, at the classroom door at the start of each class.
Watching a class start and run itself without your intervention.
Opening the kiln to find many new treasures.
On a museum visit, having an often truant student tell the vice principle, "I'd never miss one of Mr. Duncan's field trips."
Having visitors to the art room stand opened mouthed as they watch students create.
Having students tell the math teacher, "we learned that in art class."
Having a high school science teacher question one of my students, "Why were you studying that in a middle school art class ?"
Seeing a students smile as they pull a print off the press.
From Patty Valens - Middle School:
I love looking at my students' artwork!
From Linda Woods - Elementary:
I love seeing how many different approaches my students take with each assignment. Knowing that I can allow them to be as creative as they want to be makes me feel great about myself, too. I feel like I am opening doors and windows for my students every day... letting them find their own wings to fly.
From Cynthia Gaub - Middle School:
The days I hear these quotes
"I wish I could stay in art all day long!"
"This is my favorite class ever!"
"I can't wait till we do___________" (fill in the blank, but lately I hear clay/ceramics)
I love when the kids run into the room, grab their supplies and get right to work.
I love the buzz of chatter and activity that is all focused on the work.
I love when a kid sees another kid doing something and asks, "Will you show me how to do that?"
I love when kids bring in artwork from home to show me what they did over the weekend. OR kids that aren't even in my class that drop by to show me what they have drawn.
From Kelli Wilkie - Middle School:
What is like most about teaching art...
...Is when students come to you to show you what they've drawn on their own, and they used the
techniques you showed them.
From Marsha - High School:
I love the reaction when kids accomplish what they never thought they could do in art! It excites me no end.
I can be me as an art teacher.... and wear artsy clothes. The other teachers don't even blink. "Well, she's the art teacher. What do you expect?" I think if I was a math teacher (it'll never happen) I'd be more stuffy...
We can be different... after all we are artists. Like, I brought kazoos to our faculty holiday party and our arts department tooted all the winter-holiday carols . "Sleigh bells ring, are ya listenin'"... I decided we put the oomph into our school!
From Sky in New Jersey:
After 25 years of teaching, I still feel excited about each project. I always have trouble sleeping the night before the first day of school in September because I'm excited to be going "back to school".
From Donnalyn Shuster - Middle School and High School:
Having last year's seniors come back to visit as college freshmen and relate how taking art has helped them in college (better yet if they drop in on a first year high school class so they can hear it!) Better yet, if they keep coming to visit at sophomores in college....!
Watching the second and third year high school students teach the first year students or help out when you have your hands full..... (especially great in a multi age classroom)
Having your sixth graders automatically discover the joys of washing tables up after clay work.. (yes this DOES really happen - I had a group in the first quarter who took GREAT pride in leaving a clean work space)
From Jeanne W
I teach in a school for children with emotional disturbances.
-I don't have to write IEPs (Individual Education Plans)
-I don't have to do the myriad of state and federal testing.
-Seeing a high school child who has never before in his life been successful in school or indeed, successful in life, find success in art.
From Vivian Komando - High School
My students amaze me! (with their creativity and what they create when given a visual or conceptual problem to solve.)
From Chris Estes - High School:
Being a new high school art teacher in a town that doesn't value art has been challenging to say the least. However, there are some things that make teaching art the best gig?
1. I have a Graphic Design student with learning difficulties who loves art so much that he begs to come to my room to work on his art projects so he doesn't have to go to Structured Learning Period (read "study").
2. One of my seniors is begging her parents to allow her to have a dark room in her basement. She isn't having any luck so she asks me if she can come in on her own time to develop and print! Of course I say yes!
And from my 13 years at the elementary level:
3. Being the favorite class of many students.
4. Hearing from students on a regular basis that they want to be artists or art teachers when they grow up.
From LaDonna Dixon - Elementary:
Teaching ART is the best GIG because...
* The students remember the elements of art- WOW!
* The students remember the artist you taught them about... and the silly song that you made up...
* Parents tell you their kids think YOU are the ONLY adult that has imagination!
* You are MAGIC!
* Knowing all the kids and parents in car duty line...
* Seeing all the student art work! HOW REFRESHING!
* Having homemade art treasures brought to you at school!
* Kids showing you how to fold paper envelopes...
* Artwork all over your desk...
From Michelle - Middle School:
Comments from kids:
I never liked art or was good at it in elementary, I love it now and I'm good at it
After I say "Bye - Have a great day" a voice said "every day is a great day in art"
From Brenda Robson - Elementary - Middle School
I love the music programs and plays. Unlike many of the teachers, I know all 200+ kids and beam at each one's performance like they were my own children.
One great moment: Hearing a student got into a prestigious Art's Magnet with a portfolio from my class. His single mom doesn't have to shell out expensive tuition for our private high school now.
From Jessica Kemnitz -Elementary
The joys when the students remember the artist's name and tell their parents...
During my elementary student teaching, I had a parent come in and tell me that her son (who was in kindergarten) woke up in the middle of the night, went to her and said, "Mom, do you know the artist Claw? I need to know his name for class tomorrow!" Apparently he was very worried and all he could remember was that 1. the name started with "Claw", 2. he painted, and 3. he had water lilies. As you may have figured out, it was Claude Monet. I was giving out an extra treat to the kids who could remember his name... Needless to say his whole class got an extra treat because he spent his whole morning saying, "Claude Monet, Claude Monet."
Note from Judy Decker: Get students to remember names by acting them out. Make a clawing motion "sounds like Claw".... and they "show me the money" (get out a bunch of fake money to show them)... sort of like money - but with an A sound. Have student act out the name. come up with similar things for all artists you present to young children. Why? Because the "tech guy" at my former school had never heard of Claude Monet! Lets not have more people like that running around controlling our tools (smile).
From Kamla - in India:
Art is necessary in every walk of life. Most students do art in school but later on, take up either Medicine / Engineering or Architecture as their professions and career options. They need art in those careers they have chosen too.
One of my students who is studying Botany in her under grad course, visited me sometime back and told me how proud she feels when her record books are kept for others to see, since her drawings are very good. A few of my students are studying architecture and they are always grateful to me for the tips I gave them in water colour rendering.
Teaching art is the least stressful job of all. You are doing something different and creative everyday. I wouldn't trade, teaching art, for any other option.
Note from Judy Decker:
So why are art teachers pushing to make art more standardized? and testing towards those standards? Why are art teachers pushing to have their subject tested rigorously and create more stress for the art teacher too teach to the test? I would like to see teaching art continue to be the "least stressful job" for Kamla.
From Nan - Choice Based Art Teacher:
[on Tuesday] One student looked around and declared "I think we have a really creative class!"
From Judy: This is just from one day - but could be any day in a Choice Based Art Room.
From Kathy Douglas - Choice Based Art Teacher:
...in this era of No Child Left Untested, where in school is there a better safe haven for individual student ideas than in our classrooms? We have the best jobs in education.
From Donnalyn Shuster - Model School Art Meeting
Reply to ArtsEducators list post: Art is the most important subject - art teaches all....
Why Do We Teach The Arts In Our Schools?
Not because we expect every student to major in the arts
Not because we expect every student to be a professional
Not so every student can have a relaxing, fun experience
But to help every student be more human, recognize beauty, be sensitive, be closer to an infinite beyond this world, have something to cling to, have more love, more compassion, more
gentleness, more good, in short more life.
That's why we teach the Arts!
From Pam Lynch - High School and AP Studio
I am certified to teach both earth science and art, due to a double major as an undergrad. I have been teaching art (first middle school for 18 years) and now high school (including 12 media courses, plus AP Studio) for the past almost 11... There has never been a day that didn't turn out to be a day of "discovery"--either for my students or myself... I am just as excited to do what I do even after all this time, can't wait to learn and employ new techniques--spend way too much of my own money... BUT wouldn't trade the camaraderie in the classroom, the validation that comes from students past and present... the incredible creative control I have over the curriculum.
From Judy Decker - Middle School (retired):
Art is the most important subject in school! I lived that and made my students believe it too. Students did not fail art. I only had three students fail and that was because their parents failed them. I have it from a "high authority" that we are to appreciate beauty in nature and beauty in what man has made. In art, I could teach ALL subjects and show how they are all related. Students could make connections to what they were learning in core curriculum and made those experiences more meaningful. Students who took art performed better in their academic classes. Why teach just one subject when you can teach the all? - and teach the whole child! I could touch up on topics and concerns of my students that other teachers could not do. I could teach tolerance and understanding - I could teach world peace in every lesson.
Art teachers get to really know their students and have more opportunities to help those in need of guidance. Art teachers touch lives in ways that other teachers can not - providing meaningful experiences that last a lifetime... and all of those reasons Woody stated - ditto!
From Andrea Anderson aka "Violet Butterfly" - an artist:
This was in reference to a post I made to the list serve about this article "Art of the Narrative: Interpreting Visual Stories" Art Education, Mar 2005 by Goldberg, Beth
I am so glad that you brought this topic up because I believe that the more we learn what art is connected to the more we are going to want to teach and learn about it. I have said it before, and I will say it again, ART IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE. The problem is, not enough people (not enough teachers, parents or students) realize how important art is. That is why I appreciate Judith's efforts so much.
Unlike many other subjects, art has a connection with just about every subject there is. History, Geometry, Language, Social Studies all are connected to art in some way. No matter how primitive or civilized a place or time is, there has been art. Art speaks for people and places that cannot speak. Without it, we would know very little about our history. We would know very little about our geometry. Art is the basis of language. Even before people were interested in writing and math, there was a need for art.
Yet, we treat art as a secondary, expendable, elective subject. And, I have to ask, why? Art is an integral form of communication and the better we all learn to communicate the better this world will be. Art isn't a hobby, as some would like to have us think, it is an essential part of life and if we don't start making the connection between art and start making it important again then we are going to be doing a great disservice not just to our children but to our lives and our futures. People have a tendency to learn better when they feel connected to something. We are all connected to art on so many levels. I believe that we need to remind ourselves and each other how much we are connected to art and how much art is connected to us, in so many ways.
From Heather Tomczak - 7-12 Art Teacher
Two years ago, I decided I needed a career change. Even though I had gotten my teaching degree the same time I received my psychology (Art Therapy) one, I decided to go into therapy. After 6 years I was burned out and fell back onto my education degree. I always loved art and even while counseling homeless people, I still did a lot in art, so going back to teaching was natural. I was scared as I felt that maybe I had lost my "art ability". That and I was also taking over for a teacher that really didn't want to teach, so I entered a big mess. So my first year was fun but scary. What made me realize that I had done the right thing by going back into teaching, and that I was doing something good for the students came at the end of the first year when I was cut, as the old teacher wanted his job back. All of my students protested to the principal and sent letters to the school board. As I was cleaning out my desk for the summer, one of my 12th grade students came in with a dozen roses and a card thanking me for making her last year a great one. This past year, the feeling that I was doing the right thing by teaching and that I was making a difference in students lives showed a lot when my students didn't want me to go on maternity leave, and whenever I run into them over the summer they right away ask if I am coming back. To me, that is the reason you teach, to touch the lives of children, and what other job are you going to get paid to do something as fun as art!