Monthly Mentor

Benjamin Tellie (September)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Benjamin Tellie is an art and design educator at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) in Rockville, MD. He has served in many visual arts teaching capacities at various intuitions, and is currently a doctoral student at The George Washington University. Ben was named 2019 Eastern Region Middle Level Art Educator by NAEA. Click "GO" to read his full bio.

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June 13, 2019

Balancing Being an Art Educator and Artist

By Sarah Krajewski

Summer. It’s truly a word that’s packed with happiness. Breathe it in. Not everyone has their summer to recharge and create. I encourage you to take advantage of whatever Summer looks like to you. No matter what your situation is, it is very important to recognize and celebrate the fact that we are art teachers AND artists. I use Summer as my sacred time to do all the things that I’ve wanted to do during the school year. The stuff like...reading a book! Or painting a project for a friend! So much of our energy goes towards teaching. We must remember that it is equally important to make time for ourselves.

So many art teachers got into the field of art education because we love to create. But every now and then, the teaching part takes the front seat and the art making rides way in the back. For the past few years, I’ve created a very simple system to encourage myself to complete the goals that I want during my Summer.

Let me share what I do to focus on three personal accomplishment goals I have! My main three daily goals are Art, Exercise, Read. That’s it. Though, sometimes, it’s not as easy as it seems. And certainly, my definition of what counts as Art, Exercise, or Reading changes. One day, “Reading” can be writing this article or responding to emails. “Exercise” can be a walk with my sister and niece through the park. “Art” can be sketching out new earring shapes or making an art room poster. It doesn’t have to be big and grand each day, but it has to be something.

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I create a Summer calendar for myself each year and use shapes to indicate my three goals: Art or “A” is Triangle, Exercise or “E” is Square and Read or “R” is Circle. This way, I can quickly mark which goals I have worked on each day. When I complete one of the goals, I fill in the shape and mark how long I did it for. It’s my visual reminder of productivity!

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In addition to charting your goals via shapes and calendars, I also suggest making a mess. I mean it. Make a huge mess and have 16 projects happening at a time. I am often tempted to clean up my workspace at the end of each art-making session but I’ve learned that it’s not necessary. When I get inspired to work in my art space, I can simply scan the area and gravitate towards which project makes my heart flutter. Viewing lots of options at once makes me feel less pressure about choosing what to work on. And, in the end, it’s all about being excited to create.

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I encourage you to think about how you can create your balance of art teacher and artist this Summer. What daily goals would you have? What would you love to focus on? Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a few days. Celebrate the days you reached your goals and just keep creating. Thanks for reading and keep being your best you!

Follow along with my daily art adventures @artroomglitterfairy on Instagram or check out more at https://www.artroomglitterfairy.com/.

-SK

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