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.



Join the largest creative community established exclusively for visual arts educators, college professors, researchers, administrators, and museum educators.

Join NAEA Renew Membership

« July 2020 | Main | September 2020 »

Sunday 08.30.20


By Glenda Lubiner

As we start to get a bit older (at least chronologically) most of us start to make a bucket list. One thing on my bucket list is to visit Greece, as looks beautiful and a great place to do some watercolor paintings. But, do any of you have an art bucket list? Is there art or architecture you want to see, or even art techniques you’d like to learn. When I started art school I was hooked on printmaking. And then, the inevitable happened.  I moved from Montreal to California and the university that excepted all my credits offered every class but printmaking! Over the years, I’ve been a printmaker, a painter, a weaver, an art therapist, and an art teacher. So, what does all this have to do with my bucket list, you ask? There are so many things I’d like to see and learn that relate to art.

First, I’d love to learn how to do encaustic paintings…the old-fashioned way, the way it was done during the Greco-Roman period. Those paintings look so realistic, especially for that time-period (the women wore fabulous jewelry so that of course adds to the paintings). I’d also like to learn how to do glass blowing. When I attended San Jose State, so many amazing art classes were offered, but I did not take advantage of taking the glass blowing class. And last, but not least, I’d love to become a great illustrator.

I would like to go back to China and see the Terra Cotta Warriors and the beautiful mountains that are represented on so many Chinese scrolls. The Taj Mahal and India’s Sanchi Stupa, along with all the other ancient temples in India are also on that list. Not only do I want to visit Spain to see the ancient city of Toledo, as I am in love with El Greco’s rendering of the city, but I want to see ALL the architecture by Gaudi.

If you haven’t made you art bucket list yet, it’s time to start!

Have a great school year everyone!!

Artfully yours,

- GL

Thursday 08.27.20

Staring at That Blank Page?

By Glenda Lubiner

What inspires you as an artist? Is it your students? A trip you took? A dream? Whatever it is that inspires you to create, has it been happening during these unprecedented times? I know that for many people, staying home has given them the opportunity to make more art. My inspiration usually come from art and architecture that I have visited on summer vacations. This summer, I haven’t even left my county!

Thinking of inspiration, how do you think our students are being inspired? They have been cooped up in their houses all summer, sitting around playing video games, and not being able to hang out with their friends. Now is the time to reel them in and get those creative juices flowing. I always start the year with a non-threatening small art project. This way everyone is successful, especially the kids who do not have a choice of electives.

Last year I started doing a data-based selfie based on the work of designer Giorgia Lupi. I found her selfie information somewhere online and have modified it to fit my needs. It’s really cool and the kids love it. When I tell them they are going to draw a selfie, they kind of freak at first, but when I tell them that they won’t have to draw their face, the mood changes. Because I work at an IB middle school, I make sure to add in the IB Learner profile traits. A few examples of what I do are: If you are open-minded draw a light green zig-zag line; if you are principled draw a pink triangle, etc. Lupi asks all kind of things like age, where are you from, pets, introvert or extrovert. It’s a good chance to have the kids do a little reflection as well. Once the selfie is done we do a class critique that is based on design, not their information.  You can google Giogia Lupi - how to draw your own selfie and you will find this great project.

Have fun with it!

Artfully yours,


Monday 08.24.20

Please Mute!

By Glenda Lubiner

School has started for most of us and I know that if you are teaching remotely the new buzz words for this year are “Please mute and turn your camera on!” It translates to in the classroom sayings of “Please sit down and pay attention!”  Although I keep telling my students that if I can’t see them, they will be marked absent, they don’t seem to care or maybe they are muting me!! Overall, I will say that with almost 200 students, the majority are doing a great job! Respect must now be to be taught to the others in the household. I understand that everyone is home, but if the students are not muted, and at times they will not be, the others in the house need to turn the TV off and not talk on the phone. Not only is it distracting to the student, but to the rest of the class as well.  And, please remind your parents that if they are to be in view of the monitor, they must be dressed appropriately. So far, I personally have not had this problem. Thank goodness.

We are on block schedule this year so my classes are 75 minutes. Even though the classes are long, we do take a few minutes for a brain break to stretch and have a joke or two of the day. It is so important to build relationships with the kids especially because we were so used to seeing them around the school, in the courtyard/playground and in the cafeteria. Even if we didn’t teach them, we started to bond with so many of the kids. Online teaching is not like that at all. So, get to know your kids well. I’ve been doing an ice breaker with them every day, just so that I can get to know them, and so that they will feel more comfortable in the class with me, especially since this semester I have all sixth graders. Have fun with them and let them see you’re human too!

Artfully yours,

- GL

Wednesday 08.19.20

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Find Out What It Means to Me!

By Glenda Lubiner

As I get ready to start my “new” school year teaching remotely, I’ve been thinking about rules in the online classroom. Last March when we all went online in “crisis” mode teaching we didn’t even think about rules in the classroom, all I thought about was recording lessons, posting them to my Google Classroom and hoped that my 200 or so students would go online, do the assignments, and submit them. The majority did and about 40% of them did a fabulous job. But now as we start teaching remotely again, and we will be live all day, we must have rules, just like we do in brick and mortar. The thing I worry about most is how tech savvy these kids are and that they know things I will never comprehend……I’m still try to figure out FAX machines! All kidding aside, these students will find a way to loop themselves doing work, privately (or not so privately) chat when they’re supposed to, and who knows what else. With that said, I think we might need some rules too.

Being respectful is the most important rule for both the teachers and the students. As I begin my 25th year teaching, I have learned that there must be mutual respect between teacher and student, and teacher and parents. We must remember that whether we are in person or online others will be affected by the words we say and write. We must remember to also respect the opinion of others and agree to disagree.

When teaching on line, you must be engaging. The students need to feel like they are an important part of your class. In the classroom, we get to know our students well. We must do the same when we are teaching remotely. As art teachers, some of us will have returning students whom we know well. Now is the time to give them leadership roles. Pair them up with a buddy, make them both feel like they respected and an integral part of the class.

To be continued…

Artfully yours,


Clear and concise – those dreaded words we heard when we are writing National Boards. But it’s true. Your students have different ways of learning, so you must be attentive to all of them and help them along the way. You do not need to tell a long story about every project you are doing. You might enjoy talking like I do, but the kids just want to work.

Rule #3 Relationships Are Key to Online Learning 

A positive relationship with students is critical to online learning. 

Moore stresses that online classes don’t work if they’re impersonal. Students must feel as though they’ve connected with a teacher who is invested in their success. 

Every day may feel like casual Friday in an online classroom where you don’t see anyone in person, but a certain level of formality is still expected in your communication with instructors. In addition to proper punctuation and spelling, it’s good netiquette to use respectful greetings and signatures, full sentences and even the same old “please” and “thank you” you use in real life.

Sunday 08.16.20

Mentoring is a Partnership

By Glenda Lubiner

Most teachers probably think that when they are assigned a mentor, if they are lucky enough to get one, the mentor is there to tell them everything. What they probably do not understand is that mentoring is a partnership. This might be hard to believe, but the mentor will learn as much as the mentee during the process. Mentors want to help guide and support the novice teacher, and in many circumstances, reflect upon their own practice before they mentor someone else.

When a mentoring program is governed efficiently, the mentor and mentee are paired by content area. Studies have shown that when a mentee is paired with a mentor in their grade level and or content area, the mentoring experience tends to be more positive. To achieve a positive mentor-mentee relationship, mentoring should continue outside of the mentoring relationship (Hudson, 2016).

There are several ways that mentoring can be defined; guiding and supporting new teachers, supervising a teacher during their first year, and helping a new teacher get accustomed to their new schools. No matter how mentoring is defined, there is evidence that mentoring has a positive affect and outcome in the effectiveness of beginning teachers.

In a study that I conducted for my dissertation, the participants all agreed that every new teacher should have a mentor. When asked about the skills a mentor should possess, they used the following adjectives: experienced, honest, organized, patient, communicator, leader, and good teacher. One participant put it very bluntly, “you really cannot mentor and give advice unless it’s in a general sense, unless you’ve lived it and walked it.”

So, the bottom line is that if you are going to be a mentor, which I hope you all are, be there for your mentee. You are there to help, support, guide, and lend an ear or a shoulder and maybe even a cup of coffee! And remember, you can always continue the relationship long after the mentorship is over!

Artfully yours,


Hudson, P. (2016). Forming the mentor-mentee relationship. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. 24(1), 30-43. doi:10.1080/13611267.2016.1163637

Tuesday 08.11.20

Try to Remember the Kind of September…(that was a song a long time ago)

By Glenda Lubiner

Try to remember your first year as a teacher, when most of us started in September not in the middle of the summer. Today many new teachers are starting school with varied backgrounds, not always with an art education or fine arts degree. They are entering the work force with alternative certifications and those beginning teachers will need your help.

When I started teaching 25 years ago, I needed a lot of help. I had art skills and knew my art history, but I had no clue had to write a lesson plan, and I especially had no idea about classroom management. My mentor was the media specialist, a lovely lady who had worked at the school for 37 years and was getting ready to retire. The school had not had an art teacher in years and she had no idea how to help me. It wasn’t until I went to a local art teacher meeting and met veteran art teachers that I started to feel more comfortable. They helped me with lesson plans (and shared hundreds with me - no exaggeration there), leaning how to use the kiln, classroom management, and presenting a workshop at our yearly state conference. By year 3 I felt I was a pro. Okay, not really, I still feel I have a lot to learn, but I felt like an art teacher.

At the beginning of every school year, I thank those mentors that helped me along the way, and as the saying goes Pay it Forward. That, I have done. As I start my 25th year as an art educator I know how those new teachers are feeling, especially if they are the sole art teacher in the building. I urge you all to reach out to those new teachers, make a new friend, and help them whenever and however you can, even if it is only to have a zoom cup of coffee or a virtual happy hour with them. They WILL appreciate it!

To be continued….

- GL

Monday 08. 3.20

To mentor or not to mentor: That is the Question!

By Glenda Lubiner

“Learning to teach is a bigger job than universities, schools, experience, or personal disposition alone can accomplish.”                   

~ Sharon Feiman-Nemser

It is the beginning of a new school year and we have no clue what this year has in store for us. The new normal has now become just normal for most of us, but as we go back to school we need to realize that for some it is going to be a new normal. This wonderful group of people I’m speaking about are our new art educators. Whether they are working from home or at their school they will need help. As it is often said, “it takes a village!”

Think about being a mentor to those in need. Many first-year teachers are offered a mentor from their grade level or department, however, if you are a special area teacher (art, music, P.E., etc.), the likelihood of having a mentor in your content area is low, especially if you teach elementary or middle school.  These teachers often feel isolated. Of course, their mentor, if they have one, will explain the policies and procedures of the school, which is great, but what about things like how to manage an art room, what to order, and the day to day life of an art teacher.

Mentoring is a partnership and now is the time to use your leadership skills to make this partnership work. You say you’re not a leader! Nonsense! You are all leaders of your creative classrooms as you help and mentor your students daily. Thinking creatively and problem solving skills are things that novice teachers need just as much as your students. Sometimes, running ideas by a veteran teacher or just having time to talk, or vent, is just what the novice teacher might need to help her get through the week. Use your experience to provide these new teachers with an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. We’ve all been there, so we can all relate.

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Keep on making art!


Saturday 08. 1.20

The New Normal…Art During a Pandemic

By Glenda Lubiner

Have you ever thought about what happened at the end of the school year? You’re not alone!! Crisis mode teaching is what it was called in my school. Reflecting upon the last three months of school, I am still wondering how we all made it through. Lifelong learner? Yup. We all were this past year as we learned a lot more about technology. I was the person wrote their master’s thesis on a typewriter! Yes, you read that correctly… there were no computers back then! Now I’m the person giving advice on cameras to help make virtual demos a whole lot better! I am confident that we are up for the challenges this year will bring, whether it will be virtual, in the classroom, or a hybrid model.

Our job as art educators is to facilitate, excite, motivate, and instill the love of art in our students. Not all will be the next Michelangelo, Monet, or Dali, but it is our job to give them the experience to explore their ideas and express their talents in any way possible. With this said, we, as teachers need to get our classrooms (virtual or not) and ourselves organized to lead our students on this creative path.

If you’re like me, you’re already planning great things to do this year. Thinking about what worked, what didn’t, what needs to be changed for the better, and how to do great virtual lessons has been on my mind for a few months. The first few days we will engage in ice breakers. It will be quite different meeting your kids online as opposed to in person. Getting to know my students lets me understand where they are coming from so that I can address their needs in my room. Our classrooms are the ones where they usually feel the safest. I’m excited for this new challenge, and a bit scared too. My hope is that we can all share our ups and downs, successes and failures so that we can all learn from each other.

Wishing you all a creative and fulfilling school year!

- GL