Leonardo da Vinci
Italian Painter 1452 - 1519
"Portrait of a Woman with a Basket"
Italian Painter 1494 - 1557
All images used on this website have been used with permission by the
authorized museums or license holders. All other graphics are the
property of the Art Apprentice Online, LLC.
Our Vision ...
The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes
in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau,
sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." Dan Rather
Teaching Art - It is an honorable vocation...
"No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big." Unknown Author
Teaching has always been thought of as an honorable vocation. In order to be an 'educator' one has to receive formal education, and throughout their careers these 'educators' also receive professional support. This support and additional development provides ongoing training necessary to transfer knowledge to students in the best possible of ways.
Outside of the public school system and in many art communities, 'teachers' may not have had these same opportunities. There are no regulations or requirements necessary to begin teaching art. These teaching 'careers' can range from full time to those who teach occasionally for art shops and studios. Whatever the commitment, the 'job' of transferring knowledge is similar.
It begins with the 'student'
The word vocation has its roots in the word 'vocare' a Latin word meaning 'to call'. We artists who are passionate about art and painting often receive this 'calling' at some time during our painting careers. This is the calling to share our love of this discipline with others. Even though many of us may not have received 'formal' schooling for what we know or about how to teach others, we still have a responsibility to our students and to ourselves to be the best that we can be.
Today there are many resources available to the art teacher. Amongst them, The Society of Decorative Painters has developed an excellent teacher development program designed to provide direction and structure for the new teacher. We encourage participation in such a sound program. Contact the Society of Decorative Painters for more information about this program.
Little Teachers grow up to be 'Big Teachers'
It is quite common for us to hear other artists say that their love of art began when they were young children. What may have begun as a childhood curiosity evolved into a full time passion and love for teaching others. The Traditions Education Program has provided artists who would like to go to the next step of becoming an 'Art Teacher' with a strong curriculum for teaching the 'Formal Elements of Art'.
Each person will approach teaching differently, our goal is only to share with you our passions for teaching others...
To teach is to learn twice...
We have heard time and again that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Joseph Joubert said it a little more concisely with the words, “To teach is to learn twice.”
These words do not imply that we teach without preparation, or that we learn as we go, but rather that the knowledge we have gained through our study and training is cemented as we teach it. Part of the process of teaching is planning, reviewing, studying, practicing and finally presenting lessons in the form of teaching others. It is this complete process that ‘cements’ those things we have learned into our own minds. As we demonstrate (often over and over), find additional ways to explain concepts and techniques, and find ways to repair countless mistakes we continue to grow and develop even further. We learn from the entire teaching process. Again, it is this complete process that helps to ‘cement’ our abilities as artists and as teachers. We as teachers learn and develop as we critique the work of our students. We learn and develop as we discover countless ways to work with the individual problems students encounter.
Extensive research supports the principle that people learn best when they are actively involved during the process of learning. The Learning Pyramid, widely attributed to NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science provides us with the following insights:
People generally retain 5% of what they learn when learning from lectures, 10% of what they learn when they have learned from reading. They retain 20% of what they learn from looking at exhibits, mock-ups, diagrams and displays. They retain 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration, watch a video or movie, or go on a site visit. They retain 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion. They retain 70% of what they say or write – this includes completing worksheets or discussion guides. They retain 75% what they learn when they practice by doing what they learned. 90% of learning is retained when they use what they have learned immediately – this includes teaching someone else what they have learned.
As students and as teachers we can take wonderful cues from this information. William Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” We all learn best when we hear, read, see, discuss, and do. This information also helps us to further see that the preparation phase of teaching is indeed beneficial for us as well as for our students.
Adequate preparation is essential for teaching. Thorough preparation is essential for excellent teaching. The excellent teacher knows and explains the principles, theories and concepts that apply to the subject matter they teach. They demonstrate, they show, they explain. They critique with the goal of helping their students. They offer suggestions; they repeat and demonstrate again and again if necessary. The excellent teacher must be patient and have a sincere desire to help their students become more knowledgeable and proficient. Knowledge is exciting and those students who gain knowledge and feel confident will continue to paint. With knowledge and confidence students will develop and grow in their own right as artists.
Are you passionate about teaching?
You walk into a room and overhear a distant conversation where words like enthusiastic, excited, animated, passionate, eager and keen are being used to describe a recent class experience or a particular teacher, would this get your attention? How would you feel if you realized they were discussing a recent class with you? If you overheard uninteresting, indifferent, remote, blasé or even boring – I’m sure these might get your attention too.
How would you feel if you knew these words were being used to describe a class you taught? Did you just feel like the wind was taken right out of your sails? The differences in our emotional responses to having overheard these comments would be quite understandable, but would be equally unsettling if they were being uttered about us. To say the least, this would be a teacher’s worst nightmare, enough to make you want to give up on teaching.
The good news is that having students respond to you in positive ways is up to you.
You can make your classes a positive experience for your students and a very exciting experience for you the teacher as well. It goes without saying – we must know our subject, we’ve all heard this many times before, but beyond this, it is about us going the extra mile to present material in a fun and effective way. How we deliver material in the classroom and the relationships we develop with our students is an important aspect of what being a ‘successful teacher’ is all about. In order to develop bonds of student/teacher trust which often lead to friendships, we first need to take a personal inventory of our own teaching styles.
Let’s begin by asking a few simple questions. Take a moment to think about your answers and write them out, expand on your thoughts as you do so, it helps us get a clear picture of our teaching style. This exercise helps us analyze what exactly it is that motivates us to teach.
- Different – What makes our classroom different?
- Potential – Are we teaching to our fullest potential?
- Strengths – What are our greatest strengths as a teacher?
- Unique style – What makes our teaching style unique to us?
- Friendliness– Would we say we are friendly?
- Knowledge – What steps are we taking to increase our own artistic knowledge?
- Personal Attitude – What’s ours? Is it negative or positive?
- Flexibility – Would we consider ourselves rigid or flexible?
- Appreciate – Could we honestly say we appreciate our students?
- Humor – Do we smile often and laugh out loud; if we do it’s a very good thing.
The popular author Earl Nightingale said, ‘Our rewards in life will always be in exact proportion to the amount of consideration we show towards others.” Does this apply to our art students? At times it can be difficult to connect with new faces, especially if teachers are traveling from city to city. Unfamiliar classrooms and new faces may be a challenge, however the best approach any teacher can take, is to start with getting to know the students, then deliver the education. This doesn’t mean sharing a life history together, it means showing interest in their skills as an artist and trying to connect with them from an artistic perspective.
Stumbling blocks or stepping stones?
“Teachers, who inspire, realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how we use them,” the author of this quote is unknown. Every class will present us with a different dynamic. There will be a different group of students, each with distinct personalities bringing their own painting experiences and 'egos' to the easel. Regardless of these differences, hard work will be the common denominator between them. How each one approaches the painting journey will determine how they face challenges and how they enjoy the ride. It is up the teacher to maintain a positive spin on the challenges which may lay ahead of you and them.
Each teaching experience will be different because of class diversity. Some students are there to learn everything from us. Some to test us, some to challenge, some to question, others there to show how much they already know. Some will need to be reassured and told all is well, while others will paint quietly and not say too much, and we may never know what they are thinking.
The classroom dynamics makes the learning and teaching experience a great one if teachers bring the class together as one focused study group. This takes work on the teacher’s part. There will be times when students struggle, and how they deal with these struggles is based on their individual attitudes and personalities. How the teacher handles their 'struggles' will set the tone for the class. It is important to maintain the mood and the levity up at all times.
The teacher who ‘inspires’ reads the student’s struggles as clues for her to give greater explanation. At times it will be necessary to clarify information which has already been delivered. The common thread of success is hard work and effort. At times it is difficult for students and teachers to realize this; they may not appreciate that hard work helps realize potential. Encouraging students to strive for higher standards makes them feel positive about themselves, building their self confidence and self esteem as artists. When a teacher strives for a higher standard in teaching, she/he also realizes a greater potential as mentor and coach.
A patient and dedicated teacher takes extra time to explain, even when a concept has been repeated several times. These teachers will earn the respect of students faster than one who grimaces with frustration.
Everyone in class benefits from repetition, if the response to struggles has any level of negativity, the student/s will react by not seeking help in the future. Every ‘new concept’ will present students with hurdles, but if we encourage them to see these hurdles, not as road blocks, but as stepping stones, leading them from one new concept to the next, we will enlighten them with our patience and ’inspire’ them to continue.
"Teachers who inspire know that teaching is like cultivating a garden and those who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers"… Author Unknown
Advice for Teachers...
- It is OK not to know all of the answers. You can always say, "I don’t know, but I will find out," will earn you so much more respect than just "making up" the answer, and later others find out you were wrong.
- Always keep a sense of humor– ‘nothing’ is worth loosing it in class.
- As a teacher get in the habit of building your students up rather than bring them down with too much criticism. Always stay positive and offer gentle ‘critique’
- In order to motivate we need to recognize achievements and encourage challenge.
- Attitude is everything. Keep yours light yet professional, especially with a new class; your credibility is on the line. As they say you can learn a lot about a person when you watch them, ‘untangle the Christmas lights’ or teach a new painter how to float!
- Help your students set goals.
- Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important because it tells your thoughts and your level of responsiveness. In a learning environment this is so important in order to establish the teacher student relationship.
- Teachers need to develop as much ………………Patience, Patience, Patience as they can.
- Go the extra mile or yard; give as much info as possible: complete notes, photos, history, and any and every thing that will help the students.
- Be willing to spend a little extra time, maybe after class with a student, (or students) when you recognize frustration. The payback for you and them is wonderful.
- Especially for the first class, be sure students know what supplies to bring, including surfaces, and how to prep the surfaces. If a line drawing is to be used, provide it in plenty of time, so class is not wasted transferring designs.
- Be willing to share all your knowledge, don’t hold back.
- When you teach any new theory, be sure you have many different examples which will help your students understand better. It will help you expand your mind and help your students connect to the right example for their own way of understanding.
- Regarding missed classes, explain your rules about absences very clearly – for example, if you have in place a policy regarding ‘no’ refunds on class fees, let your students know this from the very first class. It is important to state your policy.
- Your enthusiasm is contagious . . . your students will be excited about those things which you are excited about. Be positive at all times.
- When you say you’ll find something out – make sure you do!
- Shortcuts in teacher preparation show.
"It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly" ~ Claude Monet
"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you" ~ B.B. King
"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge" ~ Albert Einstein