Arts teachers, specialists, enrichment instructors, whatever title they carry, these teachers are invaluable to our education system. They teach our children skills in creativity, culture and life.
All too often they are the unsung heroes of the education world and unfortunately the first to get cut in a budget crisis, but their part of our students’ educational puzzle is crucial to a complete learning experience – one that teaches the WHOLE child!
For seven years, I was a music teacher at the middle school in Hampton, New Hampshire: Hampton Academy. There I taught 6th-8th grade general music and chorus. Fortunately, I saw my students from 2-3 times a week, instead of the more typical 45 minute period a week. In my time there, I was able to really develop relationships with kids not only over the school year, but throughout their three years at the school. That was truly the best part of the job – seeing kids grow and mature over time both inside and out of my class – and something not all teachers were able to see and enjoy.
I saw girls sing their little hearts out and do it with total vocal control, boys find their voice in their own hand as it struck a drum for the first time, and classes of 23+ students work together to choreograph and perform dances to 80s tunes. Looking back, I know that whether my students were listening to J.S. Bach or John Cage, singing, drumming or dancing, their minds were being stretched far beyond their “core” curriculum.
It is important for us all to realize the importance of the arts in our children’s lives and the part these teachers play in honing skills in everything from individuality and determination to collaboration and innovation.
Whether it’s with the computer or wood, story or song, needle and thread or paint and brush, we need to appreciate the work, energy and heart these teachers bring to their job each day!
Pat yourself on the back. Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you’re someone who wants the whole of every child to be educated. That’s awesome…
I was a “Special Area” teacher at 3 elementary schools for 11 years. For one year, I taught at an inner city high school. Only there, did I feel like I had a “skill” that needed to be taught. I was a “specialist’ in an area…Art. At the elementary schools, I am considered a “break” or “planning time”. Which is a shame. We arts teachers, specialists, enrichment instructors…whatever our title is, have so much knowledge to give our students. We are not just a break…we TEACH valuable skills to students that can be applied to every aspect in life. WE contribute to “well-rounded” students. WE are important!
My school district cut half of it’s art and music teachers in the elementary schools (each school had a full-time art and music teacher) this past year. That was 40 teachers cut in all. I was a lucky one…I was saved. However, I was assigned 3 different schools to teach this year. One semester at 1 school and one semester at 2 schools. None close to my home, or my children’s school. I just couldn’t do it. I had worked so hard to establish a wonderful, quality and award winning art program…I just couldn’t do it. I now teach first grade….with GREAT art projects incorporated into my reading, math and writing curriculum. My kids love it! They often ask why we don’t have more art and music…it just breaks my heart!
I love teaching first grade. I have enjoyed it. However, my first love is teaching art. If I can’t teach art full-time, I will find a way for my students to get that enrichment thru me. After all, they deserve it!
Darolyn, It is quite a shame that you experienced that but I’m sure your first graders (as well as their parents and your admin) is happy to have you. I think all teachers should share their talents with their students and how fortunate for yours to have an artist for a teacher. (BTW-I love your artwork!) I understand your desire to remain an art teacher though…art education for its own sake is so important. I’m sure you are teaching your students so much about art as you integrate it into your teaching. You are JUST what an inspiring teacher is! Thanks for the comment.