Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Friday 05.25.12


When you cross over the threshold from art teacher candidate to new art teacher remember that we have one of the best organizations to support you and enrich you as you develop in your career. Every state has a wonderful art education association that is supported by a fabulous national art association, the National Art Education Association, NAEA.

In the last few years my teacher candidates have held leadership roles in their college student teaching chapters and the NAEA Student Chapter.  We were delighted that Ms. Kayla Gale will be the new president elect of the NAEA Student Chapters following in the footsteps of our other campus leaders. This experience has helped my teacher candidates become outstanding professionals in our field.

WEEK4BLOG3Columbia pres 2


This year our chapter was awarded the RAEA Outstanding Student Chapter of the year. It was a tremendous honor for the teacher candidates, our campus and our state organization.

We are a team, on our campuses, in our state associations and in our national organization. Our strength comes from the unity and the bonds that we form as professionals. Throughout your career we will continue to invest in your success as an art educator, and our success will continue to grow through your investment in us through your participation in the NAEA. 

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Wednesday 05.23.12


When the new school year starts in September you will be finishing up your degree and certification to become an art educator. Your student teaching internship will be an exciting time for you. You have prepared for this experience for a number of years and now it’s here.

You will have some very trying times in the next few months but the scale will tip with more rewarding events. Every journey has a few bumps in the road, things that did not go just as you planned.  Be aware of what made the situations happen. Notice signs that lead up to the disruption or problem? Were there outside anomalies that were unpredictable? Discuss these with your cooperating teacher.  Ask them how they would have handled this situation. Most important recover and move-on don’t let it ruin this wonderful experience.  

In the last few weeks we have discussed and shared several aspects of student teaching. This part of the journey, student teaching, is the best part. You will have an extended amount of time in an art class. You will create a culture and environment of art learning for your students that will reflect your passion and dedication to teaching art. If you have some reflections about your student teaching for our future teacher candidates I hope you will share some of your thoughts with them.

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Monday 05.21.12


Congratulations, you have a wonderful placement for your student teaching internship.  You are excited about working with the cooperating teacher and learning valuable lessons.  Here are some ideas to help you prepare for student teaching:

o  Review your lesson plans from coursework at your college/institution. Fine-tune any lessons that you feel might need to be polished.

o  Read some books that will enhance what you have been learning in your college classes. Hopefully our readers can share some suggestions of good text to augment the information you have already gained in your teacher preparation courses. One suggestion I share with my students is Dan Pink’s, Whole New Mind

o  Assisting the cooperating teacher ‘close her art room’ for the summer would be helpful not only the physical assistance of putting supplies away, but getting a good idea about what supplies will be stored for next year, plus you can discuss supplies that she purchased for the coming year.

o  Experiment with media’s that you want more information about, try different ideas with the media . . . be creative and explore.

o  Investigate the community that you will be student teaching in for the internship. Learn about the culture, the arts and the resources that you can bring to the art class that exist in your student’s own communities.

o  Keep in touch with your classmates, and share your ideas over the summer. You will want to keep these friendships as supports during student teaching.

-Anne. L. Becker, EdD

Friday 05.18.12


Today I would like to discuss the ‘management’ of the supplies/materials used on a daily basis in the art class.  Over the years members of my art department tried a million ideas about how to distribute art supplies in our classrooms, share common supplies, and efficiently use the supplies. Some worked beautifully and other ideas were shear disasters.  I’m going to share the beauties with you plus ideas my student teachers have shared from their observations of art educators on this topic as well. . .here are a few:

Kits: All types of kits-we had painting kits for each type of painting watercolor, acrylic, oil; a Basic Design kit for beginning art; a Drawing kit; each student received the kit and kept it in an art locker located in the hallway.  Here is a sample of the Drawing kit: each student receives three drawing pencils, a kneaded eraser, soap eraser, sanding block, charcoal pencil and tortillion-(this was part of a small drawing fee).

We had a limited budget so we tried to use everything up: broken crayons were used for encaustic paintings; broken colored pencil lead would be ground with baby oil for a drawing media; broken greenware was recycled when mixing clay bodies, etc.

Recycled materials. . .literally anything that can be used. The last couple of years my student teachers have been using all types of materials for unique ideas in the classroom.  Some schools have a suggested list of possible items and restrict the use of other items.  You need to know what items are acceptable for students to use.

Please share your ideas on this topic with us . . .

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Thursday 05.17.12


The actual teaching and learning is the pivotal process to successful classroom management.  It’s important to plan strong lessons, and plan for the unexpected in those art lessons. Connect the lessons with your students’ interests and social issues that influence their lives.  Recognizing the importance of culture and nuances that are changing our society and world are important aspects of your lessons.

Use technology in meaningful ways that enhance the student learning and accent the creative avenues that the arts make available to the learner.  Letting technology and the art of creating blend in such a way that it gives students another opportunity to express themselves.  Technology is not going away, figure out how to embrace it creatively!

Classroom management is a personal venture for every art educator.  You will often make mistakes in order to move forward. You will often think you have the solution and then suddenly realize that it doesn’t work anymore. You will have perfect days in your classroom, and you will have days that are a disaster.  Everyday you will become a better art teacher!!!

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Tuesday 05.15.12


The management of an art class is unique in many different ways: the physical aspect of the room; the supplies/materials used on a daily basis; and the actual teaching and learning process that takes place in this wonderful environment.  These three aspects blend together in a very carefully balanced way to create an atmosphere where creative ideas are unleashed.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘true-blue’ formula for this delicate balance; teachers must find their technique to create the balance. During student teaching (and for many years. . .sometimes throughout one’s career) you will discover techniques and tips that will help you achieve, or start achieving this balance. 

In the next few days, let’s look at these three areas and share some ideas that have been working for us in our classrooms.  Here are some tips, thoughts, suggestions for the physical aspect of the room gathered from my student teachers and colleagues:
• If possible try to create centers of workspace: clay area; painting/drawing, etc. or at least supplies clustered together.
• Label bins with tools/materials used for specific projects: printmaking, carving, etc. if storage space is limited.
• The sink area should have water containers, paper towels, soap, and sponges for easy access to clean-up set-up in kits for table use. Drying area near the sink so brushes, brayers, etc can be cleaned and laid-out to air-dry.
• The sink should have a trap for keeping clay/plaster/other materials from clogging up the flow of water.
• Add your suggestions to our list!

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Monday 05.14.12


Before I begin this section I need to clarify that very often teacher candidates are very confident about student teaching, excited about this experience and cannot wait to get into the classroom. The concerns (fears) that are being addressed here seem to be common among many candidates. It’s always nice to know you are not alone when you are apprehensive about a new endeavor.  Here are a few:

• How will I balance all the classes and the preparation of those classes?

• Discipline in the (elementary, or middle school, or high school)    classroom . . . ugh, exactly what does ‘consistency’ mean?

• Noise control? In an art classroom? Really? A productive buzz? Yikes!

Demonstrations in the art class . . . keeping the students interested . . . captivating their interest with my projects.

Using technology in innovative and meaningful ways.
Cell phones, texting, ipods, music - there everywhere! Turn them on? Off?

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Friday 05.11.12


The art education or education department of your college/university have a process in place for applying for student teaching. I am sure they will guide you in the decision-making process. Here are some things that you will need to assemble or prepare for this process:

1. A resume’ that is nicely designed and focuses on experiences that you have had with students, or some type of teaching or working with children (various age groups). Your college/university’s library or career center will have resources for you to develop a good resume’. There are many online resources available for creating an educational resume’.

2. Student teaching application form/document. Many colleges/universities require the candidate to complete an application form. The form may consist of a written essay about your thoughts on the following:

-philosophy of teaching art
-classroom management
-career as an art educator
-goals for the next five years

3. The document may ask you to identify areas of interest and special skills as an artist.

4. A rationale for why you want to teach in the site(s) that you have requested for your internship.

Again, your college/university may have a different structure, but you may have to provide a few of the things listed above to complete the request process. This will give you some ideas about you may need to prepare.

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Wednesday 05. 9.12


I think it’s an excellent idea for the cooperating teacher to interview a teacher candidate. During the observations that the teacher candidate has completed in the potential cooperating teachers classroom the candidate will have an idea of how the cooperating teacher manages the classroom and his/her protocols for demonstrating techniques, distributing and collecting artwork and supplies, etc. The cooperating teacher usually receives a student teaching application document, resume’, and transcripts of the teacher candidate they are considering hosting for the internship. With all this information available about the candidate why would an interview be necessary?  The interview, I feel, collects the loose threads of the placement. It’s a win-win time for both the candidate and the cooperating teacher.  Here are some samples of the things that might be discussed in the interview process:

•  The candidate will get an idea of the lessons that have been taught in the past in the cooperating teachers art class.
•  The cooperating teacher will discover unique art talents and experiences that might not appear on the resume, these talents/experiences would be beneficial to the student teaching experience.
•  The candidate will have some ideas of projects or techniques that they would like to try and develop with the cooperating teacher during student teaching.
•  The cooperating teacher can share their vision of ideas and projects they want to try for their future classes and brainstorm with the teacher candidate.
•  The cooperating teacher might suggest the teacher candidate write some lesson ideas over the summer months and share them with him/her in preparation for the internship.
•  The cooperating teacher might want the teacher candidate to share in opening/closing school activities or activities for a new teacher to gain experience in those areas if they do not fall within the student teaching experience.

These are just a few topics that have surfaced over the years as my teacher candidates have prepared for student teaching.  If you have any additional suggestions for topics to discuss with teacher candidates before student teaching I would love for you to share them.

Wk2blog2Marjorie in painting

-Anne L. Becker, EdD

Monday 05. 7.12


Wk2blog1Emily Schwartz Teaching 2
Last week we looked at what the student teacher should think about when choosing a student teaching placement. I want to extend the idea a little more in terms of what a good placement for either student teaching or a pre-clinical experience might look like for a good experience. Each observation should give you valuable information that will help you prepare for your career as a quality art educator. Sometimes I hear from my students about an’ uncomfortable’ situation. A teaching style that they had a difficult time understanding or embracing. The teacher candidate should be looking for teacher mentors who will enhance their growth as teacher candidates. Often a single visit to an art room may not give you the true picture of how the art educator and teacher candidate might work well together. The most important element in a good placement is the art educator.  Added to that component the teacher candidate should consider these facets of a school that assist a quality art educator.

1. When you walk into the school do you feel that the arts are supported?  Plenty of artwork on display around the school. . .classroom teachers display work from the art class. . .the main office has some student work on display. Teacher candidates often write in their reflections, “I felt the minute I walked into the building that they loved art here”.

2. The presence of the art educator is felt everywhere in the school.  The art educator has been a collaborative member of the faculty.

3.  The art room is a creative haven for everyone, including the classroom teachers. On-going projects appear in classrooms illustrating connections between content areas and the arts.

4. School budgets for art supplies vary greatly from school to school.  It would be remiss to say that the support of the arts in a school is visible by the number of supplies a school provides for the students.  Finances in schools today are stretched beyond acceptable limits. Many administrators, art educators and the school community have creative ideas on how to provide for the art supplies for their students. Investigate their unique approaches for your arsenal of teaching information.

-Anne L. Becker, EdD