The Role of Art Teachers

As explained in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, art teachers act as facilitators or coaches, using classroom presentations or individual instruction to help students learn and apply concepts they learn. Art teachers observe and evaluate a student’s performance and potential. They are increasingly asked to use new assessment methods. For example, art teachers may examine a portfolio of a student’s artwork or writing in order to judge the student’s overall progress. They then can provide additional assistance in areas in which the student needs help. Art teachers also grade projects, prepare report cards, and meet with parents and school staff to discuss a student’s academic progress or personal problems.

Many art teachers use a hands-on approach to help children understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thinking skills. They also encourage collaboration in solving problems by having students work in groups to discuss and solve the problems together. To be prepared for success later in life, students must be able to interact with others, adapt to new technology, and think through problems logically.

In addition to conducting classroom activities, some art teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. Art teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops.
Technology plays an integral role in today’s educational landscape. Resources such as educational software and the Internet expose students to a vast range of experiences and promote interactive learning. Through the Internet, students can communicate with other students anywhere in the world, allowing them to share experiences and viewpoints. Students also use the Internet for individual research projects and to gather information. Digital media plays a role in other classroom activities as well; thus, teachers must continually update their skills so that they can instruct and effectively use the latest technology in the classroom.

Potential Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-201313 Edition, the median annual wages of kindergarten, elementary teachers was $48,800 in May 2010; the lowest 10 percent earned approximately $31,720; the top 10 percent earned approximately $76,490. The median annual wage of middle school teachers was $51,960 in May 2010; the lowest 10 percent earned approximately $34,990, and the top 10 percent earned approximately $80,940.  The median annual wage of high school teachers wsa $53,230 in May 2010; the lowest 10 percent earned approximately $35,020, and the top 10 percent earned approximately $83,230. Like most educators, art teachers have the opportunity to increase their earning potential by earning a master’s degree.

Work Environment
While the salary may not be as high as other professions, working as an art teacher to foster the intellectual growth of your students can be extremely rewarding. Referencing the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, art teachers often work with students from varied ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Accordingly, some schools offer training to help art teachers enhance their awareness and understanding of different cultures. Art teachers may include multicultural programming in their lesson plans, to address the needs of all students, regardless of their cultural background.

Art teachers are sometimes isolated from their colleagues because they work alone in a classroom of students. However, some schools allow teachers to work in teams and with mentors, to enhance their professional development.

Many art teachers work more than 40 hours a week, including school duties performed outside the classroom within a 10-month school year and 2-month summer vacation. During off times, some teach summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue personal interests. Many enroll in college courses or workshops to continue their education. Art teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 8 weeks, are on vacation for 1 week, and have a 5-week, midwinter break.

Art teachers may obtain tenure after they have satisfactorily completed a probationary period of teaching, normally three years. Tenure does not absolutely guarantee a job, but it does provide some security.

Job Prospects/Growth
Teaching employment as a whole is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, for kindergarten, elementary and middle schools, but 7 percent for high school. Prospects are best for art teachers in less desirable urban or rural school districts. Increasing enrollments of minorities, coupled with a shortage of minority teachers, could result in an increasing recruitment of minority teachers. Also, the number of non-English-speaking students will continue to grow, creating demand for bilingual art teachers.

Last revised on: August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am