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294Re: [art_education] Info for a prospective art teacher????

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  • Wayong@aol.com
    Mar 1, 2003
      But, as Ken said, the situation is complicated & currently there are major layoffs in the education field right now.

      This might be a good time to go to school, but not to find work. Employment comes in waves & it's hard to predict future trends of what's going on.

      I have a BA in art and psychology, but took a lot of practicums in teaching and recreational therapy. I went on to get my graduate degree in Art Therapy. I have considered many times to get a cert. in art ed or special ed.

      But each state is different & the accredidation are not always transferable. Sometimes you have to start from ground zero when you move, and all your experience and education doesn't matter.

      When I lived in NYC, I knew if I wanted to, I could get a job as a teacher & complete 3 or 4 class & I would be licensed.

      When I moved to Colorado, I was told that I would have to start over no matter what - whether I wanted to be an art teacher, special ed teacher or even school counselor. Even though I can work with the same kids after 3 pm at another agency or when these kids need residential treatment, I could not do exactly what I do already with these kids unless I was willing to spend 2-3 years getting another degree.

      I went even as far as to apply to get a special ed cert. and enroll into a doctorate program. Usually when a professional comes from a related field and agrees to go into a program, you can get emergancy licensure in order to start teaching right away. I agree with Susan that it's a good idea to absorb acedamia, philosophy and techniques. I personally do not learn very well in a traditional format in a didatic class (nap time!), but I have taken upon myself to read as much as possible on therapeutic techniques, education techniques & philosophies, alternative school systems, art education and special education, on top of my previous education and working with kids and adults the past 12 yrs.

      However, some programs help you find employment, others don't.
      While I do think some teachers come into the field unprepared & do a disservice to the kids, graduate school is very expensive, especially when you consider someone like me who is still paying off my private graduate studies & is considering going into another $150,000 in debt when I might make $25,000 to $42,000 a year, which isn't anymore than what I could get now with my current degree anyway.

      So anyway, my prospective graduate school said I had to find the work myself. I could not find any work despite my years of experience working as a psychotherapist, art therapist and art educator, my degree, and development of workshops and my business (which is slow going) AND my willingness to enroll in a doctorate program.

      School districts, even more so than mental health agencies, are frought with politics, infighting & 'knowing the right people'. I was considered an 'outsider' where I lived & nothing I could do could change that.

      I have moved to Massachusetts, where the climate & attitude towards the arts & special needs is much, much better & there is an awareness of the need for services. Unfortunately, Gov' Romney, like a majority of the governers across this country are doing major overhauls and slashing budgets like crazy, which directly affects the arts, special ed, education and mental health agencies - places you & I would be employed. It is an extremely tough time, it won't be forever, but who knows how long it will take this country to heal itself. We have still not gone through the grieving process in dealing with 9-11, nor addressed how our economy and society has been affected the past 2 years and how if we are not careful, we could spiral down into depression and another world war. And the politicians still don't understand that the solution is not in eliminating the arts and punishing special needs & middle to lower income families.

      Before enrolling into a school, I would strongly suggest to make sure you want to live in that state for a very long time, otherwise you can end up getting a license & having to start all over again in another state. You may even have to take other classes, because each state has different requirements.
      You also want to situate yourself in a place where you can network & meet people before you have to find a job.
      I would also recommend volunteering or substituting or doing probono work with children to find out if that's what you really want to do. While substituting may be a good way to get in, if you are employed in other jobs, it's not very realistic. You are often told at the last minute when you are expected to work, you might already be working & you can get a phone call at 5:45 am asking you to be in at 7:15 am that same day. At least with volunteering, you can choose the times & plan out your schedule & make it clear you are only doing this on a temperary basis (so you don't get abused). You may be still required to go through the background check & get fingerprinted, because most agencies require that by law.

      I also recommend going to lectures and conferances so you can meet art teachers and other educators, so you meet people in person & get their perspectives on the field. You also can learn about current trends and philosophies that way.

      What I would not recommend, is to move someplace just because they have a job AT THIS TIME - it's important to know the political situation of the state, the general attitude of the community and the awareness of the arts & general funding trends before uprooting yourself. You can end up moving to a place & feel disconnected to your environment & very frustrated about general attitudes towards the arts just because you moved to enter a program or start a job. If you have politicians who have little awareness or consideration to the arts & tend to demonise or ignore the needs of children, that's often indicative of the attitude of the general communities in the state (although not always - people in an uproar about budget cuts is a better sign than passive acceptance).

      Good luck on your search & decision. Again, keep researching & do a lot of reading & experiencing before you put down your hard earned cash & put yourself into debt.

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