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 01.29.16

Online Art Education: Part Five: Teacher-to-Teacher and Teacher-to-Student    

From: Lisa Kastello, Ed.D.

Teaching and Learning Online

Often people use the term distance learning interchangeably with online learning. However, distance learning existed before the Internet. Mail correspondence courses were the forerunner. The evolution of distance learning to the Internet maintains the flexibility of correspondence courses while providing a more personal and participatory teaching and learning experience. 

One-on-one interactions are very important; student-to-teacher, student-to-student, and small group work. This can be accomplished through web conferencing (virtual classes and webinars), mobile collaborate (live participation in classes and meetings), instant messaging (impromptu meetings, one-to-one collaboration, and student help services), voice authoring (personalize coaching and voice feedback) and much more. These are very flexible ways of meeting as a class and still getting some of the same richness as the face-to-face, on-campus experience. 

As the flexibility of online learning is a draw for students, flexibility is a draw for online professors as well. Online teaching allows for limitless freedom when it comes to lugging around a laptop, standing at a lectern, scribbling on a “smart” board, proctoring tests, and holding office hours. Online instructors are able to live and work wherever there is Internet.

Teacher-to-Teacher Experiences Advice

Teaching and monitoring online art education courses with graduate and undergraduate students is far from easy. The time commitment was incredibly demanding but the flexibility it allowed both the students and me as a full-time elementary art teacher made this format an invaluable asset to us all.

While creating an organized syllabus to facilitate focused discussions based on the week’s readings is highly time-consuming, and involves setting up a protocol and rubric for sharing and responding to other people’s posts, I really appreciate how democratic exchanges of information were between students. During face-to-face instruction, too often one student dominates the conversation, but online, this was not problematic during any of my online courses. By telling students up front that we always have to remember that there are real people with feelings that are reading these posts, we all were able to professionally communicate with each other.

Of course, just as in face-to-face coursework, concerns such as student plagiarism are realities, but even with this challenge, the online format allowed me to easily consult with my university colleagues to address these issues as a team. If the support network is strong, as was the case in my online teaching program, distance did not impede the learning and communication between students and teachers; in fact, it felt like we were all part of a unified family working towards a shared goal. I have nothing but positive recollections of teaching online art education courses.
–Dr. Maria de la Luz Leake


Teacher-to-Student Advice for Online Learning

It is important to manage your own time well in relation for an online class. While people who work full time might be incited to take online classes because it can "fit" with their schedule, it is important to realize that online courses can take more of a time commitment than a face-to-face class. In order to ensure that you get the most out of the online class, make sure that you set a schedule that allows for regular reading, composition of responses to classmates' posts and papers, and preparation of your own work in a timely manner. 

The good and bad: Feeling connected! Over time, an online class allows you to connect with art educators from locations very different than your own, which can broaden your view and extend your thinking about artists, artistic traditions, and educational contexts that you might not encounter otherwise. On the other hand, it can be a challenge to get to know each other because it's pretty unlikely that you will get together, wander to the student union, and chat over a cup of coffee after class! (Rain check until paths cross at the NAEA convention!)
–Dr. Christine Woywod


In closing, I want to thank NAEA for the opportunity to serve as the January Monthly Mentor. Below is my contact information. It would be my pleasure to speak to anyone interested about online learning or online teaching via email, phone, or face-to-face at the upcoming NAEA National Convention in Chicago, March 17-19.

Dr. Lisa Kastello, Assistant Professor of Art Education
Graduate Program Chair in the Department of Art & Art History
University of Nebraska at Kearney, 2506 12th Avenue, FAB 314, Kearney, NE 68849
Tel: 308-627-6224 or Email:

Tuesday 01.26.16

Online Art Education: Part Four: Student-to-Student Experiences and Advice

From: Lisa Kastello, Ed.D.

Student-to-Student Experiences with Online Learning

The thing I really like the best about the online program is that you cannot be just a bystander or a drive-by student. You don't have the option to just sit quietly in the back of the classroom and take notes and leave. With an online program it is required that you are an active participant in your own education. In a regular classroom you turn your papers to the professor and you never get to read what the other students in the class wrote. To be able to read the writing of other classmates has opened up a whole new world.
–K. Johnson Rutledge

Kid Corner -K. Walsh

I thought that I would feel “alone” taking online course. The courses are actually designed to keep you engaged and in contact with your professor and fellow students. My one-to-one interaction with these people was more personal than I have experienced in face-to-face courses. –B. Smith

Untitled -C. DeCoste
Untitled -C. DeCoste

Since I am a parent and a teacher, I do not have the opportunity to get to a brick and mortar campus. The online program allowed me to work on my courses as I had time. Though there are deadlines, they served to keep me on track while not interfering with my family or work time. –Z. Williams

Ladies in Pink (back to back) -N. Leonard
Ladies in Pink (back to back) -N. Leonard

Being in art education, I was always used to the studio experience where everyone was climbing over each other to get supplies. So, the first thing I wanted to do was a studio class and doing it on my own was a little different but when I actually submitted my work and I was seeing how everyone was analyzing my work. Not just saying, “Oh! That is really good formatting.” or something like that. It made me realize that my work wasn’t just being respected by the professors, which I was expecting, but by the other students as well.

One of my best surprises that I had was after doing my very first class with digital photography, the Professor who I didn't talk to since that class sent me an email saying that he still held onto those files and that he would like to put them in an art show. What I thought was just a one and done assignment, was actually held on to and valued and then put into an art show. For art education major to be put into art shows and having that resume built up meant a lot. –N. Leonard

Where the Night Takes Us -N. Leonard
Where the Night Takes Us -N. Leonard

The program I attended had students from 26 states and 6 countries. That is beyond the diversity that I would have experienced in an on campus program. –L. Wolf

Student-to-Student Advice for Online Learning


#1 get a planner! Spend 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each week writing down due dates for each class. It was my lifeline.  –P. Sommers

Graduate Online Art Educator's Exhibition
Graduate Online Art Educator's Exhibition

Keep engaged and get the work turned in earlier instead of later. It can be hard working full-time while taking classes, and I know that's why some can't get it done. But, when the same students are always waiting until the very last moment to turn in their work, it prohibits classmates from being able to respond in a thoughtful manner.

One more thing I would say in the case of group work. Just like middle school, don't be that student who doesn't help. The last group work I had in class one my group member expected me to "text" her with what I needed. She didn't do any work on the project. So, students need to realize when you are working with adults they expect the same things expected as a middle school student... do your fair share. -K. Johnson Rutledge
Summer seems like the ideal time to take courses, but remember that the courses are still 3 credits and they are packed into 6 to 8 weeks as opposed to the regular fall or spring 16 week term. More than two courses per summer can be a hand full. –L. Wolf

Graduate Online Art Educator's Exhibition

Future Mentor of the Month Post for January 2016…

The Wrap Up…A post about teaching online and summation/conclusion/farewell.

Tuesday 01.19.16

Online Art Education: Part Three: Why Earn a Masters?

From: Lisa Kastello, Ed.D.

I can remember the day that I knew I needed to pursue my masters in art education. (Note: My initial intention in pursuing a Masters was a studio MFA in ceramics.)The high school art program was listed in the top five programs to be considered during district wide budget cuts. I asked all of the students to write a one page description of what their high school experience would be, from this day forward, if this was the last day of visual arts in their high school. After reading those letters, I knew that their passion for the arts fueled my passion for teaching. Making a difference in art education meant learning how to be an art teacher/leader.


In my experience as a professor who teaches students in an online MAEd in Art Education Program, art teachers enter master programs for one or more of these four reasons:

1. Move up on the salary schedule
2. Qualify for a new position
3. Theory informed practice in the classroom
4. Build skills in arts advocacy

Here is what students with their master’s degree say about the importance of earning a masters:

If your understanding of art isn't about this magnificent painting on the wall or the sculpture that you cannot touch in the museum, it's about visual images we encounter every day. If you get that you understand art education is ever changing. It's not stagnant. That means that we have to constantly be working, interacting with other artists and other educators all throughout the nation, if not throughout the world to really up our lessons and what we are doing in the classroom. By doing that, I am increasing student engagement because what we're learning about is totally relevant to the student’s lives.
—Courtney Mimick 


Art teachers should pursue a masters because it helps you define your purpose as a teacher and person of your community. The more subject knowledge you have, the better you can teach specific knowledge. The more experience you have, the better you can hone your teaching practice. And working together with other professionals (students) gives you inspiration, ideas, and knowledge without having to learn it yourself!
—Pamela Sommers


I believe that there are many reasons for art educators to pursue a graduate degree.  The following is a list of reasons that I feel influenced my decision to pursue higher education:
1. Learning should be a lifelong process.
2. Fine art teachers are generally in a minority in school systems.  Being active in study gives you more peer exposure.
3. Graduate study introduces teachers to new and important pedagogy in their field of study.
4. Teachers must be savvy to new technology to enhance the learning process.
5. Being better educated in your field should increase your expertise and gain respect of your opinions.
6. Graduate degrees increase your salary and make you a better candidate for job openings.
7. Having a graduate degree may enable you to teach on the college level.
—Denys Marcum

I believe art education teachers should pursue a master’s degree for a few reasons. One obvious reason being that with a more advanced degree, teachers have more career opportunities. What I mean by this is with a masters degree, I would be able to teach students at a higher level than K-12 if I chose to do so. If I wanted to teach at the college level, I now have that opportunity.

Another, more important reason that art teachers should pursue a masters degree is to improve their craft. Now that I have completed a masters program, I feel very accomplished and more confident in the classroom. I feel that I have made a statement by obtaining my degree and that statement is that I care enough about my students and teaching practice to take my education to the next level. Pursuing a master’s degree has opened up my eyes to a lot in education and has helped me improve what I do in the classroom.
—Megan Jones

1. Staying connected to your craft and people in your area of expertise!
2. Learning about, improving collaboration, building on skills in your classroom and with your peers, connecting to new practices, learning new ways to work with kids in this era of "techi-ness!"
3. Satisfy intellectual curiosity! SPARK passion!
4. Do it for your students and your team! Your actions can and will inspire others!
5. Never be satisfied with where you are in your career. Your master’s degree should be something that you do for yourself, don't do it to appease someone! Do it for you!
6. By studying in your content area, you are showing not only your students, but your peers that you are committed to your craft, your learning and their learning.
7. Personal growth, a great sense of accomplishment, recognition from your district/peers/administration.
8. Financial: The potential to move on your pay scale increases with more hours towards degrees and the opportunity to work after school hours or during the summers at a college/university to not only "pay it forward" but to make additional money as an instructor.
—Kalle Wamsat

Why do you think a master’s degree important?

Future Mentor of the Month Posts for January 2016…
* What do students say about their experiences with online learning.
* Students share their advice for online learning.
* And more…

Monday 01.11.16

Online Art Education: Part Two: An Online Program that Fits Your Needs

From: Lisa Kastello, Ed.D.

Part Two: An Online Program that Fits Your Needs
When looking for a Masters in Art Education online program it is important to use the same set of criteria for each program considered:

* Does the university, who hosts the program, have approval to offer online degrees in the state in which you live?
* Is the program accredited by a national accreditation body such as the Higher Learning Commission or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation or one of the regional accrediting bodies?

(Six major regional accrediting bodies are: The Middle States, The New England Association, The North Central Association, The Northwest Association, The Southern Association and the Western Association.)


* Is the degree program completely online or is there a requirement for time on-campus?
* What are the enrollment requirements (GPA, standardized test scores, etc.)?
* What are the credit requirements and what are the transfer credit policies?
* Are there specialized software program requirements or additional fees for textbooks and learning aids?
* Are the courses synchronous (set meeting time) or asynchronous (no required same time meeting)?
* Do all of the education instructors have their doctorate and do all of the studio instructors have their MFA?
* What is the cost per credit hour and what are the qualifications for financial aid or scholarships?

Bb  Cost

Future Mentor of the Month Posts for January 2016…
* Rationale for earning a masters degree.
* What do students say about online learning.
* And more…

Monday 01. 4.16

Online Art Education: Is it Right for YOU? Part One: Learning or Teaching Online

From: Lisa Kastello, Ed.D.

Thank you to NAEA for the opportunity to host the Mentor of the Month Blog for January 2016. As an assistant professor of art education and the chair of an online masters in art education program, it is my privilege to work with art teachers and museum educators in 26 states and 6 countries.

This months blog will be dedicated to:

Online Art Education: Is it Right for YOU?

Part One: Learning or Teaching Online

My husband, Rick, has this game he likes to play with me…

“If anyone had told you ___ (x amount of) years ago that you would be doing (see below)? Would you have believed them?” My answer is usually… “No.”

Here is a list of  some things that I wouldn’t have believed…
* You are going to be a teacher (high school art teacher for 15 years).
* You are going to earn your MAEd in Art Education (instead of a MFA in studio).
* You are going to earn your Ed D in Curriculum Leadership with an emphasis in Art Education (over a 9 year period while teaching full-time).
* You are going to move to Nebraska (the middle of Nebraska…from the Chicago area).
* As a professor, you are going to teach 100% online. What?

I would have answered “No.” to all of the above. Now here I am and I LOVE it!


Brief Description of Online Education
Online courses and on-campus courses share some similarities in the fact that the teacher develops and delivers the curriculum. However, online courses are offered electronically through the Internet and rely on email, discussion forums and chat groups for the interactive components of the courses. Therefore, online students and instructors need to excel in the written word. Most online programs are held asynchronously. If a particular class is held synchronously, the teacher will most likely record the course and students who were unable to attend may still listen to and/or view the class at a later date with the opportunity to participate, after the fact, using a program called VoiceThread or the equivalent.


Much like a face-to-face course, graduate students are expected to spend 9 or more hours a week on their studies for a 3 credit hour course. Unlike face-to-face courses, instructors should plan to spend one and a half times the amount of time commitment for online courses. Time management and self-discipline are highly important skills for studying and completion of assignments as well as designing curriculum and monitoring progress. Computer skills are also crucial. Word procession, downloading and installing software as well as familiarity with email and a browser are necessities. The advantages of online programs are: convenience, flexibility and personal attention. The disadvantages are: under estimating workload and lack of preparation.

Future Mentor of the Month Posts for January 2016…
* Looking for a Masters in Art Education online program that fits your needs.
* Rationale for earning a masters degree.
* What do students say about online learning.
* And more…