Monthly Mentor

Shelly Breaux (December)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Shelly Breaux established the Art Program at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy in Lafayette, LA. In her classroom, Breaux focuses on inquiry-based learning, problem solving, collaboration, conceptual thinking, and constructive criticism. She believes in using art as an educational tool, and that art provides her students with a voice and an outlet. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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September 13, 2010

Mentorships: Extending A Hand To Novice Art Educators

Effective mentoring takes place over time and extends beyond the first year of teaching. According to Dr Feiman-Nemser, Jewish Professor of Education and Director of the Mandel Center for Jewish studies at Brandeis University, “Assigning mentors to work with beginning teachers represents an improvement over the abrupt and unassisted entry into teaching that characterizes the experience of many novices. Further she states that, “if mentoring is to function as a strategy of reform, it must be linked to a vision of good teaching, guided by an understanding of teacher learning, and supported by a professional culture that favors collaboration and inquiry.” Providing guidance and continual encouragement to new teachers is one of the important responsibilities of veteran teachers.

Most schools have mentoring programs in place. However, an art teacher would greatly benefit from having a fellow art teacher as his/her mentor. Often times there is no other person in the school who can directly relate to the experiences unique to that of the visual arts teacher. As veterans and mentors, one must take the initiative to reach out to new teachers as they may feel reluctant to impose on you or may not want to reveal that they have questions, concerns, or problems. Since we have all been new teachers, we must reflect on that experience and make ourselves available to them. Being approachable is an essential quality that all educators should possess, no matter what level they teach.

In our art education program, the faculty work hard to encourage students to join the art education student chapter and also emphasize the importance of continuing that affiliation upon graduation and obtaining a full time art teacher position. We offer our students our continued support when they begin teaching and tell them to call us if they have problems. Our state has had a mentor program in place in the past and is interested in rebuilding it. In addition, our state chapter provides a mentor award to a visual arts teacher each year in honor of Dr. Deborah Smith Hoffman, who was a music educator and true mentor to numerous arts educators across our state.  

I challenge you to take time to reach out to a young art educator, one who may be in need of a support system from a veteran teacher like yourself. I challenge art teachers who do not have mentors to reach out to someone working in your school district and ask them if you can meet with them to share your lessons and student artwork. Also, ask your state organization to start a mentor program if one does not already exist. 

Over the years, I have had many friends retire from teaching art and they always discuss the amount of “stuff” that they collected over their teaching careers. Many teachers agonize over the tedious task they face in cleaning out their collection of supplies, visuals, books, and objects. Perhaps we should sort through some of our “stuff” and find an art teacher who is teaching in a situation where they have a limited budget and resources, then share some of it with them. I am sure they would appreciate your generosity.

-Minuette Floyd


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