In any moment, strong or weak, read this and remember why you are a Fine Arts teacher.

It’s getting to be that time of year again – the time when we find out just how much our administrators can spare to keep us on; full time, part time or not at all.  We’re finding out if we will have funding next year whether it’s in the same amount as before, less than or at all.  Amidst our griping during budget cuts or excess slips…sometimes we need a pick me up.  So, I thought I’d do my best to supply one.

We’re ahead of the game.  The 21st century skills expected of our students, the creative problem solving, the multiple applications – all of it – we’ve been instilling in our classrooms since the beginning. The day they put creativity at the top of Bloom’s pyramid wasn’t a surprise.  We looked at the change and said “well, that’s what we’ve prioritized since the beginning.”  We are the past, present and future of education.

Paint can be found on your person in places you didn’t know possible.  To the outside world, this means you’re  a mess.  Perhaps everyone thinks you don’t do your laundry but the fact of the matter is that you wear those stains and those messy hands as a badge of honor.  A badge that you know says “I changed the world today – I helped a student find creativity and they smiled about it.

Even our failures are success.  Every project we do is carefully planned and timed because we are so limited with both of those things.  Our supplies are not endless so we plan out every drop and every paint brush to last as long as we can.  But when we do have a project that ends up unsuccessful, we don’t get upset – we turn it into a brilliant chance to learn from.  We don’t leave the learning to ourselves either; we bring our students in on the failure and work together to build from our experiences.

We change lives.  We have the chance to get to know our students in a more personal way that is hard to come by during the few minutes students have between standardized testing.  Our classroom is always inviting students to bring something to the table that is unique to them and helping them hold tight onto their individuality changes their life for the good.

Our web of a network is unbeatable.  There is an endless source of help along the way.  There’s no race to get to the top; every good art teacher makes an effort to expand their resources so that any new or veteran in the field has a place to go when questions come up.  Whether it’s running a kiln or finding the best adhesives – somewhere, someone is ready to share their experiences with you.

Others envy the excitement of the students in your class.  Billy could be having a terrible, no-good, very bad day but after the quick class demo on the material of the day, he’s smiling and excited.  He leaves your class bouncing with happiness and all because of the project you plan – the same project that pushes him to meet National Standards, use 21st Century Skills, and integrate the Core.

From nothing, comes something.  While this is not true for every teacher, outside of our safe classroom, sometimes we feel as though our significance is not carried with high importance…our budgets are small, our plan time is limited and we often hear of the art teacher that has nothing to build from.  But yet, because we teach creativity, we ourselves find the most creative ways to make something out of nothing and we help our students learn how to do the same – to become problem solvers of the new generation.

Traveling art teachers – [which can mean they either travel from room to room or from building to building (heaven forbid, both)] are highly respected individuals which, unfortunately, isn’t always voiced out.  These teachers see more students than so many other art teachers and bring creativity into a situation that is barely hanging on.  An art teacher, no matter what, can appreciate the travelers.

We live to prove ourselves.  We have one of the most misunderstood jobs in the education world.  That makes it one of the hardest and sometimes least appreciated positions in our area. It’s not necessarily that everyone dislikes our purpose but not everyone sees it because it can be very subjective depending on the perspective.  Every day we come to work and we have to prove that our work is more than meets the eye – our class is more than the pretty pictures our students draw or the music that they make; there are no standardized tests to “back us up” (not that we want any).  Every day, someone, somewhere is looking at what you do to see if it’s worth the penny spent to make it happen (not necessarily your boss or your district, either) when math and science are so very important to the world right now. Naturally, you stand tall and do everything to prove your worth even if it means giving up summers and weekends to plan ahead by dreaming big.

So, remember this.  Remember what you do changes the world, one student at a time…one brush stroke or piano key at a time.  We’ve been around since the beginning and we’re not going anywhere.  When your day looks like it’s going to wear you to your breaking point remember one key thing: we are the past, the present and the future of education And we aren’t going anywhere.

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