Art Teacher

What is an art teacher? Discover who art teachers are, what they do and how they teach in this article.

Art Teacher
Art Teacher Mandy Theis

Types of Art Teachers

An art teacher is someone who teaches art. Simple enough. But there are many different kinds of art teachers in the world.

K-12 Art Teacher: In the United States, K-12 art teachers work with students who are between approximately 5-18 years old. These art teachers teach within both public and private schools. In order to teach in a public school in the United States, you must have a teaching license.

University Art Teacher: Professors, Associate Professors, Adjunct Professors, etc. all fall under this category. These are people who teach art to university students. Often, an M.F.A. degree is required for these positions. Please note that an M.F.A. (Master’s of Fine Art) is DIFFERENT from an M.A. (Master of Art) degree. An M.F.A. is usually a 60 credit program and is a terminal degree, equivalent to a PhD in other fields. An M.A. degree is usually a 30 credit program and is equivalent to Master’s Degrees in other fields.

Community Art Teacher: These art teachers usually have varying qualifications, but are not required to have any specific license. Often, they teach at local community or arts centers. Sometimes they teach out of museums (although the other types of art teachers on this list may also teach in museums).

Artist Teachers: These art teachers are practicing artists that also share their knowledge through courses. They often teach out of their studio space to a small group of committed students. They are often invited as artists in residents to schools that do not have a licensed art teacher.

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Art Teacher License in the United States

Art education licenses are issued on a state-by-state basis and have varying requirements. Many states have different options for acquiring a license.

The traditional route is to pursue an art education undergraduate degree at an accredited university.

Alternative routes offered by many states involve acquiring a Master’s Degree through an approved program, and/or completing an online training program, and/or having an undergraduate degree in art and then completing an internship program of some kind. Requirements vary by state. But with the ongoing teacher shortage, many states are making licensure easier than it used to be.

If you are interested in an alternative route to an art education license, The School of Atelier Arts cannot personally advise you. Please reach out to the education department in your state for specifics of alternative licensure. The School of Atelier Arts is not responsible for any actions an individual may take using the information provided in this article.

Are you looking for art teacher resources? Check out our Ateliyay! Curriculum here.

What Do Art Teachers Do?

Art teachers teach other people how to make art, how to look at art, and how to appreciate art. They are responsible for helping a student grow their skillset and their mindset.

Being a teacher of any kind is a physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging task. Unlike some desk jobs, there isn’t really an option to zone out if you are having a bad day. Your students need you every day and expect the best from you every day.

Typical Day for a K-12 Art Teacher

A typical day in the life of a licensed, high school art teacher in the United States might look something like this:

• Teach anywhere between 5-9 periods each day, depending on the length of each period.

• Prep lessons for each class, including materials which is a big part of the job for art teachers. Materials management varies depending on which medium you are teaching. Art teachers have many systems in place for handing out and returning art supplies.

• Maybe get a planning period if you haven’t sold it to the district. (Many teachers do this for a little bit more money because teacher pay in the U.S. is often not very good. You teach an extra class for extra pay, but you do not get a planning period.)

• Active shooter drill? Help terrified kids practice hiding under their desks to avoid getting shot. Not a fun part of the job.

• Field emails from students who want to turn in work late, parents who want you to change a student’s grade, administrators that want you to work for free painting a mural for the school, etc. Sometimes, teachers receive threats for teaching on topics that parents disagree with, even if it is in the curriculum.

• Take student work home with you to grade over the weekend. There is not enough time during the school day to grade hundreds of assignments before report cards are due.

• Run into your former students who gush about what it meant to them that they had you as an art teacher. (Note: this is why many art teachers stay in the profession despite the other challenges.)

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How Do Art Teachers Teach?

Art teachers employ many methods for sharing their art knowledge with students. There are some philosophies that are becoming more common for public K-12 art teachers.

Atelier Training: Atelier training is a method of learning art that helps students master technical skills. Technique is emphasized so that students can create any artwork that is in their head or heart without compromise.

Choice-Based Art Education: Also known as TAB. It is a method of teaching art that encourages independent exploration of studio spaces and materials.

Traditional: This often, but not always, includes a teacher giving a demonstration of an art technique or project, and students then working on their own version of that project.

Cookie Cutter: This is a controversial method in many art education circles. It involves a step-by-step process to make an artwork where the goal is to have every student’s project look the same at the end of the lesson. This method is most often in use by elementary teachers to help students learn how to cut, glue, and otherwise control materials.

Are you thinking about becoming an art teacher? Are you an art teacher? Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below.

Want to start atelier training today? Join our Ateliyay! Painting Bootcamp today!

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Are you looking for art teacher resources? Check out our Ateliyay! Curriculum here.

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