INDICATORS OF STRONG EDUCATIONAL ARTS PROGRAMS
STRATEGIES FOR HIRING ARTS TEACHERS
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ARTS EDUCATORS
OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS IN THE VISUAL ARTS
COMPONENTS OF A QUALITY VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM
SUGGESTION FOR VISUAL ARTS SPECIALIST SCHEDULES
SUPPORTING EDUCATIONAL ARTS PROGRAMS
Considerations for Administrators
INDICATORS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL ARTS PROGRAM
Centers around the Utah State Core Standards in Visual Arts. Four major standards are included: create, present, respond, and connect. Creating should be the core component to any art classroom, but a successful art program should include the other standards as well: opportunities to share their work with others, present it in an organized way, respond to others’ work and connect with their classmates. Good art programs help students connect art projects with their world and develop critical 21st century skills that will prepare them for the future.
Encourages artistic innovation as well as skills. Art skills are taught, not as ends in themselves, but to equip students to create innovative and original works of art. A strong program allows each student to explore his own artistic voice through a variety of media, styles, and genres. Students’ desire to take more classes, diverse student portfolios, and their preparation efforts toward post-graduation programs are all indicators of a strong visual arts program.
Teaches students life skills and develops learning dispositions. A successful art room is a place where deeper learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, citizenship, and character are taught. These skills are essential for life and can be utilized in any situation or career. Whether a student becomes an artist or not, each individual should be taught in a way that develops empathy, personal exploration, connection with others, work ethic, and other 21st century skills.
Teaches literacy skills. Students need to be taught visual literacy: the ability to recognize, interpret, and create their own visual communication. Artists use elements of art and principles of design, color theory, and typography to design products, logos, and media that touch every aspect of our lives. In art classes, students not only learn how to express information, ideas, and emotions in traditional media, but also learn how to use technology such as photo editing software, graphic design programs, video editing programs, etc. to communicate in an aesthetic and powerful way.
Must be directed by a highly qualified art instructor. Art should be taught by someone who is an expert in both visual arts and educational pedagogy; the individual must be certified with a teaching license.
Receives support from a strong professional learning community that fosters professional development. Art teachers who collaborate with other professionals become more effective teachers, learn new content, share ideas, and rekindle their passion for art and for teaching. Professional development can be facilitated within school departments, districts, and online forums, as well as statewide or national organizations. A teacher who collaborates avoids stagnation and continues to progress.
Obtains support from the school and community. A successful art program requires a committed investment from the school administration that will support additional art classes by hiring more teachers rather than simply overfilling classes. Strong programs showcase each teacher’s interests and strengths, encouraging each to contribute ideas for new classes. A successful program needs appropriate and safe classroom spaces equipped with materials required for the subjects and skills taught. Supporting art shows both within and outside of the school allows students to be recognized for their work and encourages the community to feel involved.
Includes and respects all abilities, genres, cultures, sexual orientations, religions, and races. The art room should be a safe space for students of all cultural backgrounds and experiences—a place where students of all abilities are given opportunities to learn and improve.
STRATEGIES FOR HIRING ARTS EDUCATORS
Include the current art teachers in the hiring process. The art teachers who will be working with the new hire can recognize the artistic ability of the applicant and provide insight into situations that might be specific to the position being filled. Involving the other teachers also shows whether the applicant will get along, both personally and professionally, with the rest of the educators in the department.
Have the art applicants bring a portfolio of artwork and describe their own artistic habits and experience. At the secondary level, students must respect their art teachers, not only as educators, but also as artists, in order to build relationships of trust. An applicant’s portfolio reveals her skill level, media preferences, experience, style, and interests, showing ways she will contribute to the school and if she will be a good fit for the department. Some strong educators are weaker artists, and some highly capable artists are weaker educators; administrators need to find one who is strong in both areas.
Prepare some questions you might want to consider in an interview.
- What are some procedures you will teach your students in the first few weeks as you set policies and procedures for classroom management?
- How do you give feedback to students in timely and meaningful ways?
- What do you think a good art program should look like?
- How do you anticipate that collaboration will help you as a teacher? What things do you feel you need help with right now?
- Do you belong to any professional organizations? Were you involved with student extracurricular organizations in high school or college, particularly pertaining to art?
- How do you feel you can foster creativity and self-expression in your students?
- How are you going to engage students who feel like they are not artists, the ones who are only in your classroom for a credit? How can they feel successful?
- Describe a lesson you have taught that you consider particularly successful?
- How do you conduct critiques in the classroom? How do you give students opportunities to communicate with each other about their ideas and finished artwork?
- What have you created recently that matters to you? Why does it matter to you?
Interview the applicant’s previous administrator, cooperating teacher, or other references. An applicant’s charisma, communication skills, artistic ability, and classroom ideas can be apparent in an interview; however, it is wise to also learn how the applicant gets along with others, including co-workers and students, along with general reactions from someone who has actually observed the individual teach.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ART EDUCATORS
Utah Art Education Association (UAEA). The main professional community for art teachers in Utah is the Utah Art Education Association. UAEA connects all art educators in the state, from elementary to higher education, including both public and charter schools. UAEA hosts two conferences a year (spring and fall), which provide keynote presenters and workshops on a variety of topics. The fall conference is usually focused on art making: teaching art teachers new media and processes and giving them time to create artwork of their own.
The spring “Art in the Sun” conference holds a pre-conference event on the Thursday preceding the conference. During the Paint Out (painting) and Throw Down (ceramics) events, a professional artist teaches a lesson and then the teachers create their own pieces. Teachers have an opportunity to find renewal in making art, not just teaching it. Friday begins with a keynote presenter, and then splits secondary teachers into content-specific networking PLCs and sends elementary teachers to the Share Fair to exchange project ideas. Dozens of workshops address a wide variety of topics: introductions to new media and processes, ways to incorporate art history, discussions about pedagogy, ways to use technology in the classroom, and use of helpful teaching resources, to name just a few. Administrators can support their art teachers attending these conferences by providing assistance with subs, travel, and conference registration fees.
UAEA offers valuable opportunities for people across the state and across content areas to connect and support each other. Its website informs teachers about professional development opportunities, grant opportunities, online resources, and art competitions/events such as Youth Arts Month. UAEA is also developing more online resources, such as webinars to reach out to those who can’t attend the conferences in person. UAEA runs an awards program that recognizes great teachers across the state and nominates them for national awards. Another mission of UAEA is to advocate for the arts across the state by promoting the good things happening in the arts and bringing up issues that members should be aware of. UAEA also provides opportunities for leadership and networking through participating in one of the numerous committees that function within the UAEA board. To learn more, visit the website at uaeaarted.org.
Mentoring. A new teacher must have a mentor to help him through his first year of teaching at a new school, helping him to learn how to motivate students, avoid pitfalls, plan out a curriculum, and utilize effective classroom management, as well as encouraging him when things get hard, etc. New teachers need to feel like they have an ally and a friend at the school.
District Collaborations. If possible, provide teachers a scheduled collaboration time with other teachers in the same content area. Most art teachers are the only one in their school to teach their specialty; opportunities should be created for these teachers to collaborate across the district or state. For example, a ceramics teacher will gain more from collaborating with a ceramics teacher from a different school than from working with her in-school colleague who teaches oil painting. Professional development is more likely to occur if built into the schedule during contract time.
Utah Division of Arts and Museums Grants. UDAM encourages professional development for teachers by offering Arts Learning Grants, which provides funds for educators to invite artists to partner with their students for specific projects. UDAM also offers Teacher Initiated Project (TIP) grants, allowing a teacher to study with a professional in any area of the fine arts either one-on-one or in a small group. Thus the teacher is able to develop his own skills and passions. These grants can be found here.
Utah Teachers of Art History (UTAH). The Utah Teachers of Art History (UTAH) is a professional learning community for art history teachers, which is affiliated with UAEA. Art history is often taught by history or English/ Humanities teachers. The goal of UTAH is to connect art history teachers with each other so they don’t feel so isolated and to encourage them to share resources and best practices. A Google Drive folder has been set up to share lesson ideas, assessment questions, review games, articles and video resources, etc. UTAH has also partnered with the University of Utah to provide numerous content-specific lectures to educate teachers about the complex and varied works of art found within the curriculum. UTAH continues professional development by ensuring that art history workshops are included in all UAEA conferences. https://utaharteducation.weebly.com/
Evening 4 Educators (E4E). The Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools (POPS) funds the Evening 4 Educators events. These opportunities are sponsored by the different art museums across the state. Each E4E lasts three hours, usually from 6:00–9:00, and offers two to three breakout sessions that might tie in with a particular exhibit. Teachers can count these hours for relicensure points. www.smofa.org/e4e.php
National Organizations: Art Teachers can access quality professional development opportunities by joining national organizations such as the National Art Education Association (NAEA), www.arteducators.org, or the National Council on Education for The Ceramic Arts (NCECA) https://nceca.net. In addition to providing conferences, these organizations offer webinars, resources, lesson plans, advocacy materials, etc.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS IN THE VISUAL ARTS
PORTFOLIOS, ART SHOWS, SCHOLARSHIPS, COMPETITIONS
All-State High School Show at Springville Museum of Art. Each year in February and March, the Springville Art Museum hosts the All-State High School Show for juniors and seniors. Each school is allocated a certain number of entries based on the school population and previous success. This show is professionally juried; acceptance is an honor. Visiting the exhibition allows students to see accomplishments of their peers across the state. For more information visit smofa.org.
Springville Art Museum Portfolio Review Day. On a Saturday in the fall, high school seniors are invited to bring their portfolio and meet with representatives of art programs across the state and country, learning about different programs in the state, receiving professional feedback on their own artwork, and becoming familiar with visual arts scholarships. www.smofa.org/portfolio-day.php
Youth Arts Month (YAM). March is the NAEA/UAEA-sponsored Youth Arts Month, during which each school is invited to join in advocating for the arts in that month specifically. YAM also sponsors a flag design competition. The winning designer receives a cash prize along with art supplies, and their design is made into a flag to represent Utah at the NAEA convention. https://www.arteducators.org/news/articles/10-youth-art-month-yam
UAEA Catherine Ford Scholarship. Each year, UAEA invites high school seniors who are interested in pursuing art or art education in college to apply for the Catherine Ford Scholarship. To raise funds for this scholarship, art educators donate their own artwork to be auctioned; one or two scholarships are awarded according to the amount raised. Scholarship applicants are selected based on a personal essay, their artwork, and a teacher recommendation. http://uaeaarted.org/event/catherine-ford-student-scholarship/
COMPONENTS OF A QUALITY VISUAL ARTS PROGRAM
Quality Teachers. The most important aspect of a quality art program is a teacher who will provide stability and enable an art program to grow. Passionate teachers attract students to their classes and motivate students to take additional art classes. It is much easier to build a program if a teacher is full-time rather than half- or part-time. If the position is not attractive, it will be hard to retain great teachers necessary to make a program successful.
Manageable Class Sizes. Art classes provide opportunities for nearly all students to feel successful. However, when the class is too full, teachers have difficulty managing the number and giving personal attention to each student. Administrators are advised to have a discussion with each art teacher to see how many students the physical environment can accommodate: including the size of the room and the number of seats available, as well as the number of computers or other equipment that can be provided. As students with special needs, language challenges, and behavior issues can find success in art classes, many students needing accommodations are likely to be enrolled. If an art class has a high percentage of students needing special consideration, additional art teachers may be needed.
Properly Equipped Classrooms. Every art teacher should have her own classroom equipped with a large sink for art production and cleanup (multiple sinks encouraged), as well as sufficient storage space for art materials and student work. A ceramics classroom should have sinks with a clay trap to prevent the pipes from clogging with clay, as well as a ventilation system designed to suck dust particles out of the air. (Exposure to clay dust year after year is a health hazard for a ceramics teacher.) The kiln (or kilns), which must meet OSHA standards, should have a separate space with plenty of ventilation in a different room from the one where students work.
Materials. As art supplies are expensive, the lab fees must be sufficient to cover the art teacher’s basic needs. New art teachers might need administration help in setting up a basic classroom and getting a class set of materials such as paint, brushes, colored pencils, etc. Some materials including paper, clay, and tape are used up quickly and must be frequently replenished, but other materials can be used several years after the start-up purchase. Administrators need to recognize that materials for some classes are much more expensive than for others depending on the media required. The administration should also be willing to allocate funds to purchase and maintain more expensive items such as printing presses, mat cutters, ceramics wheels, kilns, computers, cameras, etc.
Displays and Galleries. The state core standards include presentation, so displaying student artwork is an important component of a successful program. Ideally, schools would be designed with built-in display cases or gallery space built right into the building. If these are not available, wall space can be designated in the hallways or a common area for student artwork. Portable display boards such as Pro Panels can be set up in the hallways, library, or commons area to put together an exhibition. Administrators can show support by purchasing permanent student and professional artwork for the hallways, media center, office, and/or classrooms.
Art Shows. An authentic motivation for art students is to display their work in art shows. Because many shows require the artwork to be matted and framed, the art department should have financial support available to purchase the mat board and frames.
Support. Art teachers need the support of their faculty and administration. Art teachers and custodians should be able to work together to keep a clean and safe environment. Art teachers must feel that their administrator values the arts, including their subject specialty, and their hard work in teaching. Administrators can show support by highlighting the art department’s achievements, giving art teachers the resources they need, and supporting their art teachers’ professional development.
SUGGESTION FOR VISUAL ARTS SPECIALIST SCHEDULES
The following scheduling recommendations for elementary arts specialists are based on data from a study conducted by Tara Carpenter Estrada (BYU), Rachel Wadham (BYU), and Molly Neeves (researcher and former elementary art teacher) in 2018 & 2019. The study included a state-wide survey and focus groups of elementary art specialists.
Class Length: 40-60 minute class periods should be scheduled for grades 2-6. For younger students, at least 30 minutes should be scheduled.
Transition Time: Because visual art teaching requires a lot of material management, teachers need at least 5-10 minutes between class periods to reset supplies and to prepare for the next group.
Age Group Transitions: Wherever possible, like ages should be grouped together in an art teacher's schedule. This helps to streamline material management because different grades require different materials. Where ages are not grouped together, longer transition time will be needed.
Preparation Time: Teachers should have regularly scheduled prep periods (preferably 45 minutes a day) throughout the week to prepare materials, develop curriculum, exhibit student work, and to collaborate with other teachers to integrate content.
Budget: Students need earmarked funding for art supplies to adequately learn the media and to develop skills. The budget should be at least $1.00 per student per year.