Hi! Fellow art educator here, or at least a prospective one. Any tips for student teaching (coming up this fall) and then job hunting shortly there after?
Hi! Sorry for the late reply, this week was full of sick leaves (first year teacher-ness- get some vitamins!) and getting in report card grades/comments (start on those early!)!
I think the thing I miss most about student teaching is having someone in the room to constantly give you feedback on what you are doing, so definitely take advantage of that and don’t be afraid to make mistakes or take risks; you’re expected to. Sometimes I let me stubbornness and pride get the best of me. Where I’m working now, I don’t get much feedback, so I miss having that resource. Ask questions when you have them and ask for constructive criticism in areas that you need help in and be willing to take or at least try it.
On the other hand, I really disliked trying to fit into someone else’s teaching style and opinions. Obviously this will depend on the cooperating teacher you have, but a lot of the time I felt like I had to not be me or do things a certain way to get the approval of my cooperating because yes, it’s for the learning experience, but sadly also for a grade. I don’t mean put up with it if you wholeheartedly disagree with the way they do things (maybe find another cooperating then), but discover what your own teaching style is through your student teaching experience and who you do or don’t want to be as a teacher. Write down everything. Most schools ask that you chronicle your experience, and that helped me a lot. I took tons of pictures to put in it and even just wrote down funny things that kids said.
Don’t underestimate the students, but don’t overestimate them either; find out where they are and meet them there. I think it is important to remember that for them, the process is often more significant than the end result. As a student teacher when you aren’t quite teaching yet, you get a lot of time to actually talk to them and understand them, so use it to your advantage! Find out who they are and what they like, and later you’ll be able to make lessons more interesting and engaging for them because of the relationships you started building early on.
I was a December graduate and I job hunted for nine months before actually getting employed! I don’t really know that I have great magical advice for job hunting. Use the career services at your school (even after you graduate, you should have access to them) to look over resumes, cover letters, and even conduct mock interviews. Network and keep in touch with people even when your “business” is done with them. This can mean keeping in contact with professors/classmates after graduation or with coworkers when you don’t work somewhere anymore. I think keeping friendly contact with people you’ve met is valuable in job hunting, especially in your concentration. They might pass along jobs that they hear about, recommend you for a position, write letters of recommendations, etc. They’ll also be there for you and understand your struggles better than those who may not comprehend the trials of finding an art ed job, and then the quirky little pains of being an art teacher when you do get a job! I wasn’t that close to people in my major, but now that we are out of school, we are able to share lesson plans, pool resources, and use each other as resources. It’s been nice to have that network and share in each other’s successes and commiserate. I kept in touch with professors from school, so now that I’m thinking about going back for grad school, I definitely have it easier than other applicants might.
I hope this is all helpful and feel free to ask anything else! I didn’t anticipate this answer being quite so long; I hope that it isn’t just rambling verbage and that there’s some helpful things in there. Good luck!! :]