Friday, February 22, 2013

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

A parent or any person you talk to actually comes out and tells you that you're not as important as the classroom teacher.

Have you had that happen?

Luckily, I have not heard that since my first year teaching and here's why...I'm a loudmouth.  A proud, loud, crazy art advocate.

I LOVE to share with people why my class is important, and it's more than just keeping my job...I want art for my kids.  I want art for my daughter!  I want art as a core subject.  If it wasn't for art, I would not have done well in school.  I was that creative kid in school that soaked up art class and was caught every minute of the day drawing!  Go figure, I' now an art teacher!

A few years ago, I stood at the podium at a school board meeting in that same district I grew up in.  The board was trying to figure out a way to cut the budget, and what was on the list?  Art and Music.

I scolded the board in the most polite way, but then I turned to the people in attendance.  I told them it's not enough that you're here yelling at the board members, you need to reach out.  Contact your state legislators, contact the U.S. Department of Education, make yourself heard.  If art and music is important to you, make it possible.

I'm sharing this with you because I'm a traveling art teacher.  I pushed the carts and I set up the rooms.  I worked on 3 separate budgets for the three schools I traveled to.  I struggled with communication and workloads and parent contacts and supplies.  But...I love what I do.

So what's that about the art teacher not being as important?  Let me share...and music friends, you're just as important in this conversation.

I teach Language Arts to the students.  We read stories in class, have discussions, and create works inspired by the stories.  Common core ready.

I teach Math to the students.  We use geometry, symmetry, perspective, measurements, and the list goes on.  I also teach the student how to use that ruler.  Again...common core ready.

I teach Science to the students.  We learn about plants, animals, insects, fish, the weather, materials reactions, and the list is never-ending.  My students can tell you what fins are for on a fish, or what animals can camouflage to hide from predators.

We use "project-based learning"...all the time.  We are project-based learning.  The students are introduced to an idea inspired by artists, art history, art from many cultures, and/or all core subjects listed.  They research the idea by manipulating materials to create an interpretation of that idea. When the students have their finished product, they can share their work.

I teach Social Studies to the students.  We learn history from the beginning of the cavemen up until the art of today.  On top of the student's Social Studies curriculum, we also share how art has influenced history as well.  I wonder where that printing press came from...

I teach Character Education to the students.  I show how art can share positive messages with the school and local community.  I teach how students can use team-building skills to work together and create a community artwork.  I also teach students how to problem-solve.  Not every project turns out perfect, but there are ways to make it look just as awesome with one simple fix!

So in other words...I tie everything together.  I reinforce what students learn in their general classroom.  I also integrate what the students are learning in their current lessons...all while keeping a visual art curriculum as well.

I will never sit there and say that my workload is too much or that I have more than anyone else.  All of my co-workers have their workload and we're all flexible and understanding with each other.

Even though it seems like I'm ranting, I am happy to say that my own principal comes into my classroom and shares the importance of art with the students.  They're hearing it from more than just me.

I have not heard anyone tell me to my face that I'm not as important as the other teachers in awhile.  Needless to say, I'm ready in case it happens again!


  1. Excellent "rant" and so well said. I wrote my graduate thesis on the values of the arts to education and you've done a great job of putting all those values into everyday practicalities. I hope to see people quote you!

  2. OH MY! Thank you!!!! Sometimes the words just spill right out!