“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” - Pablo Picasso
It’s not easy becoming a good teacher. To be fair, it’s not easy being a teacher, either. Most people agree that it’s a difficult job.
To help you with this, in this article, we’re going to look at the skills and qualities that every aspiring art teacher should have and how to become a teacher.
Teaching art, whether in a primary school, secondary school, college, university, or as a private tutor, requires you to be familiar with effective teaching approaches. This is definitely the most important skill for any teacher.
This is often referred to as pedagogy, which is defined as:
“The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.”
But what does this mean in practice?
Teaching skills and pedagogy means being able to effectively transfer the knowledge and understanding of a concept to your students. In the hard sciences, this would be like explaining a theory in a way so that the students can understand how it applies in the real world. Similarly, you wouldn’t explain concepts in the same way to a 4-year-old as you would a teenager.
It’s important that you choose the right words, approaches, and examples. A good teacher will use examples that their students can understand and relate to. Similarly, the lessons need to be structured so that the students know what’s going on and what you’re talking about it.
You also need to be able to explain every problem in different ways. In fact, not every student will understand a given concept at first. While repeating an explanation can help, in many cases, you’ll need to rephrase it or look at it from a different angle.
You can learn more about pedagogy. In fact, most of the PGCE includes pedagogy as it’s assumed you already have a mastery of your given subject. Almost every teacher certification will show aspiring school teachers how to teach. Whether you're in state schools or private schools, becoming a teacher is impossible without the basic skills to transfer your knowledge to your students. Since most schools won't just take your word for it, you'll probably need to prove you have the necessary teaching skills to become a teacher by completing a degree in education or a PGCE, for example.
In this case, you'll need to look for education courses at universities around the country. Usually, universities have a department of education or school of education that runs these courses and by getting in touch with them, you can find out which teaching certification is best for you.
Find out how to become an art teacher.
Art is a subject that is all about expressing your creativity. The goal for most students is to learn about artistry and translate their ideas into visual pieces.
In this case, you need to listen to your students, what they want to do, and what they’re trying to express. This is a valuable skill for any teacher.
This doesn’t mean you have to listen to them regardless of what they’re saying. It means that you need to help them make art out of their ideas. Discussion is an important part of art and the artistic process.
Students need to feel like they’re being listened to if they have a problem understanding a certain concept. As some students are too scared to ask questions in front of the whole class, they might prefer to ask you at the end of the lesson if they feel you’ll listen.
Being a good listener will help them to feel comfortable when they run into problems.
When it comes to teaching art, you need to be organised as you’ll probably have loads of materials to worry about.
You need to be organised in terms of time and space and you need to manage your classroom so that students have the space to work comfortably and express themselves. With students moving around a lot, getting out paints, pencils, scissors, paper, etc., and looking for space to work comfortably in, you need to make sure everything’s organised.
You also need to be organised in terms of time, too. You need to prepare lessons, check students’ work, provide advice, and get everything done within a limited amount of time. Furthermore, you'll have the curriculum to deal with. There are certain things that every school teacher has to cover and your teaching career can depend on how effectively you can do this.
Teacher preparation is essential in primary and secondary education regardless of the subject area. While teaching degrees will probably show you how to plan lessons and courses, organisation skills are something that every teacher should regularly be working on.
Find out how much art teachers earn.
After pedagogy, patience is a teacher’s second most important quality. As a teacher, you’ll need to work on your patience as students can very easily get distracted.
Classes and explanations can be repeated again and again and again. Even if the students appear to be listening, that doesn’t mean any of it’s going in. You’ll need to explain some things several times in different ways. Similarly, you might need to repeat the same lesson several times to different classes.
You might be teaching the same thing to different groups of students several times during a week. Similarly, there are different levels who might be studying the same thing. This means that classes can quickly get annoying if it’s the tenth time you’ve taught something.
This is where your knowledge of different teaching methods will help.
Everyone probably remembers how art classes could get in secondary school. As we said earlier, these are classes are an opportunity for students to express themselves but they’re also classes in which students can get up and walk around.
The teacher needs to maintain order and ensure that their classes don’t descend into chaos. In addition to annoying teachers in neighbouring classrooms, chaotic lessons aren’t conducive to learning.
Student management is an important part of your teacher education. Glue guns, scissors, and Stanley knives are also present so you don’t want students to be going crazy anyway. If art lessons are chaos, they need to be organised chaos!
While sixth formers and college students will be more mature, they still need managing. You might want to put them into smaller groups.
Find out more about studying to become an art teacher.
Dealing with Noise and Chaos
As an art teacher, you need to be able to appreciate the noise and chaos. Even in a controlled class, students will be moving around, working together, or making noise in general. Group work is an opportunity for them to exchange ideas and talk. This doesn’t mean they’re going to be shouting but they’re not going to be in silence, either.
In some cases, art teachers can use this time to get on with other work that they may need to get done.
You’ll be surprised just how much “acting” you need to do as a teacher. In some cases, being a teacher can feel like you’re in a one-man-show.
Dull presentations are a quick way to send your students to sleep and the younger your students, the more dynamic you’ll need to be to keep their attention. Knowing how to engage the students and get them involved in art is essential to your success as a teacher.
Not only do you need to hold their attention but you also need to make them feel comfortable in your class. You also don’t want your students to get overexcited or carried away.
Good presentation skills will ensure that your lessons remain interesting and engaging. This doesn’t mean you need to have a drama degree, though.
Art History Knowledge
If you’re going to teach art, you need to know about it. Knowledge of art history is important as you’ll draw upon this knowledge when teaching your students about art history and about various techniques. You’ll need to know about different art movements (Fauvism, Cubism, Romanticism, etc.) as well as famous artists like Courbet, Monet, Manet, da Vinci, Gauguin, van Gogh, etc.
Whether you studied modern art or fine art, you’ll need to have a knowledge of art. Generally, you’ll need to have studied art before you become a teacher. In fact, most teachers will require a bachelor's degree or master’s degree to do it.
However, if you've done an education degree rather than a PGCE, you mightn't have studied art as much as you'd like. You might be an expert in creating lesson plans and have plenty of teaching experience, but if you don't know certain parts of your subject, not even the best pedagogy will save you.
If you want to become a private tutor, you’ll also need all these skills.
Technical Art Knowledge
Every student will probably expect their teacher to be decent at art. You’ll need to know about painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, etc. if you want to be able to teach students about it. That doesn’t mean you need to be the next Leonardo da Vinci. You just need to have a good knowledge of techniques and styles.
If you’re passionate about art and hardworking, you’ll be fine!
While there are different requirements for different positions and one teaching certificate or qualification may be accepted for certain teaching jobs and not others, if you have these skills and qualities and the qualifications the job requires, you can easily be a teacher and have a successful career in teaching.