Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms.
WAYS TO BECOME A LEADER IN ART EDUCATION by Heidi O’Hanley
Congratulations, you have completed a year of teaching! Now that you have the time to sit back and reflect upon the past school year, you may consider using newfound knowledge to help others in your field. In sharing your experiences, you start your path in becoming a leader in art education and help mentor new teachers in our field. There are many ways to be a leader without overdoing your workload. Depending on the time you have and the obligations you carry, you can choose which avenue to take in becoming a leading teacher in art education. I’ve listed a few suggestions you may want to consider to improve your overall teaching, plus assist you in mentoring others.
1. Advance your education. If you have your “licensure” and a bachelor’s degree, consider taking classes that would lead toward a master’s or doctoral level. Depending on your district, you can not only advance on the pay scale, but also gain new knowledge and insight for your teaching strategies and curriculum development. Do you have a family at home? There is a way to take classes online to save you the hassle of babysitters. Advancing your education helps you to stay on top of current trends in art education, which helps you to become a trailblazer in your school department or local community.
2. Consider applying for national board certification. If you’ve been teaching for more than four years, you may also want to consider national board certification. The national board is a process that assists you in fine-tuning your teaching strategies and helps you to fully understand the “why” in what you teach. To become a national board certified teacher, you must apply at www.nbpts.org. From there, you will undergo a process of gathering evidence for a portfolio and testing your expertise in the arts and education. Many districts offer full coverage for undergoing the process and offer incentives if you pass the NBCT process.
3. Share your experience. If you’ve been teaching for a few years, you may have a pile of projects that you created that you could share with the art education community. There are many avenues to take to share the awesome work your students have made, such as creating a blog, website, or send in your project ideas to art education based magazines. Blogs are a great way to share what you do in your classroom, plus you can post at your own pace. Over time, you develop a following of readers that enjoy viewing what you do and create in your teaching environment.
4. Use action research to your advantage. At times you have concerns or questions about an issue in your classroom, but your having a hard time finding accurate research to help support your inquiries. I came across this a few times, especially when I was teaching art form a cart and couldn’t find articles to help in managing my curriculum from room to room. In sharing my personal research through blogs and articles, I met others in similar situations that were searching for the same answers. Through networking, we’ve improved our teaching strategies and helped others along the way.
5. Be a mentor. Earlier this year, I shared the benefits of mentorship for teachers. If you remember your first year of teaching, you probably remember the successes and failures within that time and how you learned to grow from them. Mentors help ease the transition within the first year by offering sound advice and lead you in the right direction with your curriculum, teaching strategies, and classroom management.
6. Take a leadership position. If you have the time, you may consider entering into a leadership position in an association or guild. On an association board, you could take up a position to represent different regions in your state or nationally, be a chairperson for state art shows, become an advertising coordinator, and the list goes on. When you lead in these positions, you are telling the community that you want to represent them as an advocate for the arts in education and help promote the importance of the arts in our nation.
7. Be an advocate. Even if you have little time to spare, you can still be an advocate for the arts in many ways. On social media, you can simply share articles you find that represent facts on the arts, or blog posts that would help improve strategies and classroom managements. In your district, you can voice your passion for the arts to your local community and administration. Even the simplest act of sharing makes you an advocate for the arts.
This summer, consider your options on how you can be a leader in the art education community. Have a great summer and enjoy your time!
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT) teaches elementary art for Indian Springs School District #109, in the Greater Chicago Area. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthetravellingartteacher.blogspot.com