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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December 15, 2017

Giving is a Virtue

Giving is recognized as a virtue in every major religion and in every civilized society, and it clearly benefits both the giver and the receiver. – Dalai Lama

From: Heidi O'Donnell

While I would be happy as a clam at high tide working comfortably in my classroom teaching art, I know I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if there wasn’t a good balance of give and take. 


This is how I like my life – clean, organized, predictable, safe, etc. (I know, why teaching?)


However, chaining myself to this sense of comfort does not necessarily make for an excellent educator. Wrapped around the same anchor (be it lessons, curriculum, assessment, etc.) makes one the weakest link. It is only in breaking free of said boundaries, that growth as an educator and strength in programs are created. I have found that it is through giving, that I have received the greatest gifts. I believe the most powerful gift is one’s development as an arts educator.


So here are a few items to add to your list of gifts.

  • Mentor a student teacher.

If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path.” – Buddhist Proverb

(If you don’t work in the classroom, provide opportunities to job shadow, intern, mock interview, etc.) I took on this challenge and garnered numerous benefits. In working with my student teacher, I not only became more purposeful in the programming I provide, but I also learned and practiced a few more formative assessment strategies as a result. View a list of ideas here. Although I already use several, a few ‘new to me’ strategies I really liked include: 1, 3, 31, 41, and 50.

  • Start a blog or get active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” – African Proverb

Recognize that you have a lot to offer. There are a lot of possibilities out there for arts educators that focus on specific teaching philosophies, age groups, and media. I find it particularly interesting to join groups outside of my current teaching situation or outside my current practice. I’ve gleaned so much over the years by reading and commenting on a variety of topics.

  • Start an Art Teacher Book Club.

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” – Chinese Proverb

I mentioned this in my last blog post, but feel it’s worth another plug. Facilitate a discussion and reap the benefits it has to offer.

  • Present at a conference, workshop, school board meeting, etc.

When one teaches, two learn.” – Robert Heinlein

Share what you are working on. You never know where this will lead – more conversations, considerations, resources, etc.

  • Take a class.

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – Chinese Proverb

Take a leadership class (NAEA School for Art Leaders is excellent – I encourage you all to apply!), learn how to use a new media (even if you don’t think it you will use it in the classroom), learn about new ways to connect with other content areas (STEAM), the list is endless.

  • Other… What would you add to this list? 

It’s really all about collaborating and sharing opportunities. Go forth and give!



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