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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August 11, 2020

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

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