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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Tuesday 08.19.14

Teacher Resources

We, as teachers, are always being asked to incorporate technology in our classrooms. And as some of us know, this is not always an easy task in the art room. Therefore, my purpose for this post is to be a resource for art teachers. A tool that you can turn to when you want to try something new, discover a fresh way to uncover contemporary art, take a different approach to sharing your ideas and philosophies with students and staff, etc. Below you will find a list of some of the resources and tools I utilize on a daily basis. Look them up, try them out, and uncover what works and doesn’t work in your classroom.
•    Pinterest
•    Google Drive
•    Dropbox
•    NAEA website
•    State Organization Websites
•    Facebook
•    Twitter
•    Netflix
•    Tumblr
•    YouTube
•    Art 21 Resources
•    Art Education (NAEA) journal
•    Art Education/Art blogs
•    Art for Life: Authentic Instruction in Art
•    Olivia Gude :)
•    Austin Kleon
•    Art Education for a Change by David Darts
•    Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education
•    Juxtapoz Magazine
•    Rolling Stone Magazine
•    Street Artists
•    Flipboard App - Personal Magazine (on all devices)
•    Instagram
•    LinkedIn
•    ArtGallery App
•    ColorSnap App
•    UKIYOE App
•    Copper Relief App
•    SketchBookX App
•    Sbapix Free App
•    Geometric App
•    iMotion App
•    What The Font
•    Ted Talks

Hopefully my few suggestions get the ball rolling for you as we enter a new school year.
Happy teaching!

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Friday 08. 8.14

New School Year, New Students

As we approach the start of another school year, it is key that we take the correct approach with our students. For an art educator (or any teacher for that matter), as new students enter your room for the first time, it is the your duty to make them feel welcomed. The first week sets the tone for the entire semester. You can either be the teacher that everyone respects and loves, or you can be that “weirdo” teacher at the end of the hall. The choice is yours.

The best piece of advice that I can give you is GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS. Use the first week to connect with them on somewhat of a personal level. As I stated in the Be a ‘Real’ Teacher post, take the time to talk with each student every day. Talk about things that interest them. But most of all have fun! Take a few minutes at the start of every class to share stories. The kids will love it and you will get to know them on a completely different level.

Another extremely helpful piece of advice is to EASE THE STUDENTS INTO THE ENVIRONMENT. Don’t go at them with guns blazing…it’s the first week, not final portfolio reviews. I like to start my first two days of class with a sketch activity. I ask the students to draw things that will help me get to know them/understand them better. I grade my sketches on completion, not skill, so the students automatically begin to feel safe to explore their imagination. The first “project” I assign the students is the Post-It Note/Sharpie Challenge (which I “borrowed” from another art teacher in the local area). With this project, I provide my students with prompts such as:

• An unexpected hero
• A moment you want to remember forever
• Someone you love
• A bad habit
• What inspires you
• Etc.

The students then draw an image representing one of the topics on a Post-It Note. Once the drawing is complete, they are introduced to the Sharpie challenge. Their Post-It Note must either be at least 50% black, contain thick or thin lines, or contain some type of pattern. Once everyone in the class finishes their Post-It Notes, we assemble them into a class mural that hangs outside the art room throughout the duration of the semester.

The first week of any class can be a scary time for both the students and the teacher. I have found the key to a successful semester begins with how well you execute the first week. Use that week to set the tone for the term—exposing the students to your rules and expectations. But most importantly, get to know your kids! Let them know that your room is a safe place for them to explore their imagination.  Not only will this earn your respect with your class, but it will also lead to student success.

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio

Friday 08. 1.14

Be a ‘Real’ Teacher

As summer is winding down and the school year is just around the corner, I am starting to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I will be starting a job at a new school—with a different environment, a different staff, and most importantly, different students. In order to deal with this sense of anxiety, I reflected back on letters and conversations I had with the kids at my previous school, and one particularly stands out.

An 8th grade girl once told me, "Mr. Humphrey… you’re not a ‘normal’ teacher. You’re a ‘real’ teacher.  Do you know what I mean? You actually care about us, you joke around with us… you poke fun at us and we can poke fun right back at you. You not only teach us stuff about art, you teach us stuff about life and being a good person."

It is a simple, but often overlooked task. Teaching isn’t so much about the subject, but rather the relationships. Kids take away what they want from your class, and let’s be honest, the majority of your students probably won’t become fine artists; however, they will need that out of the box thinking in whatever career they choose. Most importantly, they will need that 21st century skillset the rest of their lives. So teaching isn’t so much about the memorization of a subject, and art education isn’t about training your kids to be the next Picasso or Warhol. Teaching is about providing opportunities for your students to grow into well-rounded members of society. Teaching is about being there for your students, helping them through the sad and happy times. Teaching is about being ‘real.’

It might not always be the best way (depending on your definition of best), but I always try to be ‘real’ with my students. By being ‘real,’ I mean that I tell them how it is—how the world works. I make accommodations in order to spark their interests and connect with them on a personal level. I take time to talk with every student, make eye contact with each one, and poke fun at a few of the thicker skins. I build a relationship with them in which they know nobody is perfect—including me. I do what I need to for my students. They are with me the majority of the day; therefore, it is my duty to give them the information that they need. If my students want to learn to change a flat tire, you know I am going to do what I have to in order to connect changing a flat tire to the world of art.

A wise man (and by wise man I mean my cooperating teacher during student teaching) once told me “teaching is about getting the students what they need, NOT what they want.” Sure, we all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad days; but at the end of the period, week, quarter, semester, etc., if the students walk away with the knowledge that they truthfully need, I think it is safe to say we did our jobs.

-Daniel Humphrey, Art Educator, Holy Name High School, Parma Hts., Ohio