South West Co-Vice President
Starting a new position as an art educator can be daunting, especially if you are just beginning your career. Starting out as a new teacher, I felt overwhelmed. I had many of the same concerns that all art teachers face; how do I promote my art program, how do I show my administration the importance of the arts, and how can I show core teachers the importance of art in their classrooms?
Throughout my first two years of teaching, I have used many different strategies for promoting and advocating for my students and the art education program. The first thing I did was to be visible. When I say this I do not mean just artwork around the school; I mean making myself visible before school, after school, during prep time, during passing time, and most importantly during lunch. I feel that making a solid connection to the colleagues you work with on a daily basis is pertinent to developing your art program. I also updated the display cases throughout the year with new student artwork to show other students and colleagues what type of learning was occurring in my classroom.
The next thing that I did, as most art educators do, is to have a district wide art exhibition of student work. To form an even better bond with my administration, I created personalized invitations for my administration and handed them out in person. Doing this led to the superintendent and multiple other administrators and principals attending the art show. After making this connection, I used the support of the administrators to start an art club for the students. To advocate for the art club, I created a proposal that outlined expenses, student benefits, community benefits, and district benefits. I later wrote a letter to the school board with detailed notes about how the art club would help student development and how it would be beneficial for them. It took me about a year to get the art club approved, but it was well worth the effort and persistence.
What I found to be the best way to promote and advocate for my art program and myself was my love and interest for inter-disciplinary units of teaching with other subjects. Bringing art into the science, English, and history classrooms has really shown my fellow teachers and administrators the positive attributes of art education. My administration loves when teachers work together in collaboration and doing this has really helped illustrate how important the arts are to student development as a whole. Showing other teachers a positive way to integrate art into their teaching has allowed them to explore the arts in their curriculum, and has reinforced the importance of art as an integral part of education today.
Some of my favorite advocacy resources have been blogs and websites from other art educators. They are listed as follows: