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.
BOOKS FOR EVERY ART-TEACHER LIBRARY
by Heidi O’Hanley
When I first started teaching, I tried to soak up any resource I could find to help me with my career in art education. I purchased tons of books about classroom behavior, material management, techniques, lesson ideas, working with gifted/special needs, and more.
I have since donated many books to help experienced teachers and early professionals, and we even swapped to share “good reads” and ideas. I would like to share four books I have in my own personal “art teacher library” that have helped me with ideas and strategies with my career.
1. Teach like a Pirate, by David Burgess: After reading this book, I was encouraged to be more “dramatic” in my teaching strategies with the younger grade levels. I found that in adding more emphasis and passion into my delivery of instruction, the students were more engaged.
As stated in the book description, the book offers inspiration, techniques, and ideas that will help the reader increase student engagement, boost creativity, and transform the way you manage your classes. The author shares how you can increase your passion as a teacher, develop engaging lessons, establish rapport in your teaching environment, and have your students share the excitement of your classes outside of the art room.
This book came in high recommendation as a summer-read for art teachers in the online Art Teachers Facebook group. After reading the entire book that summer, I was inspired to create more engaging lessons and projects for the next school year, and it did make a huge difference in student engagement.
2. Classroom Management for Art, Music and P.E. Teachers, by Michael Linson: In my school, I teach over 700 students a week. Educating a high number of students each week presents the biggest classroom management challenge, and if you’re unprepared, you’ll be thrown way off course from the amount of stress with dealing with all the behaviors.
This book is broken down into five parts that provide tips and strategies to help simplify and manage any teaching environment (no matter how out of control), so you can focus on giving your instructions.
One chapter that stood out for me was “restarting” your class. I still have moments, even after 10 years of teaching, where I feel like I’ve lost control of the class, and with the raised voices, I feel like I’m talking over them. It’s as if your train had derailed from the track, and the longer it takes to get your class back “on track,” the harder it will be. The chapter mentioned to find something to attract their attention, and after researching and testing many avenues, I’ve found (thanks to the recommendation of a friend) a chime that gets their attention quickly. Once your mallet hits the chime, all heads turn directly at me and they know I have something to say.
3. From STEM to STEAM: Using Brain-Compatible Strategies to Integrate the Arts, by David A. Sousa and Tom Pilecki: Our curriculum director gave this book to me as a gift. I like it because it is from the perspective of a non-art teacher, and explains more about how to think more creatively while incorporating the A in STEAM.
In the book description, it is mentioned how research has shown that arts activities enhance creativity, problem solving, memory systems, and analytical skills, which are critical for reaching academic success. As art teachers, we already know how the arts are vital in students’ education and we advocate this message in everything we do within our teaching practice. Reading through this book, I was excited to see the importance of art from another view!
4. The Annotated Mona Lisa, by Carol Strickland: Even after receiving my bachelor’s degree in fine arts, I still had holes in my art knowledge to fill before teaching in an art space. During my National Board certification process, I came across this book while finding resources to study for the final test. This book is literally a crash-course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern, and offers an illustrated tutorial of each art period in between. It covers fine art, architecture, photography, installation, performance art, film, and much more.
After reading the book from cover to cover, I was able to not only gain enough information for the test, but also incorporate knowledge within my current lessons. The book also covers art from different cultures as well, so you can view the styles of artwork created from Africa, Mexico, Eastern continents, and more. I highly recommend the book for any art teacher library, especially when you don’t have time to soak up an entire encyclopedia of art history.
There are more books I hope to share with you that have helped me over the years. I hope you can find the right books for your own personal art teacher library that will help you in your practice!
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.