Professional Practice

Do Art Teachers Have Too Many Extra Duties?

Duties. Sigh.

As an educator and an employee of a system that needs to run like a well-oiled machine, it’s commonplace for teachers to have duties to help out with the day to day runnings of a school. For example, duties could include recess duty, hallway duty, lunch duty, special event duty (ie: dances, prom, taking tickets at a game, etc). You know the drill. I don’t need to go on any further.


However, as an art teacher, I actually find it interesting to look at the time allocations of duties between teacher associates, specialist teachers and classroom teachers. The specialists at every school I’ve taught at had at least double the duty time as classroom teachers.

The reasons for this can be complicated, and mostly it all relates back to the master schedule and how everyone’s time fits. But this also makes me wonder if scheduling isn’t the only thing impacts things like this. There are times (dare I say this) art teachers can feel like second rate citizens when it comes to the hierarchy of employees. I know I have. And it doesn’t feel good.

In the eyes of administration, sometimes I think the specialists are seen as not “needing” as much prep because their content isn’t as important, therefore, they get more duties assigned to them. Yuck.

Coming from a person who has experienced 45 minutes of duty every day, at every school (traveling teacher here) I know I really could have used that extra time. I also didn’t mind getting fresh air every day outside. It became routine after awhile, but in the winter, took about 15 extra minutes to get my gear on and off, completely ruined my hair for the day (heaven forbid) and caused me to walk in from recess as my kinders were walking in, making me me feel a little frantic at times and unprepared to get in the “kindergarten mindset” if you know what I mean.

My mom is a teacher’s assistant, and she always says, “let the teachers teach, and let us help them in any way we can.” She’s a gem. But unfortunately budgets don’t always allow a dream world for our work days. I really don’t have a great solution to this, either, mainly because if your boss tells you to do something, the best strategy is to put on a smile, and just do it! Maybe you can relate.

So, my friends, I am wondering what kind of duties you have at your school and how you feel about it? 

Do you ever feel like a second rate citizen when it comes to the jobs you are asked to do around the school? 

What solutions or coping mechanisms have you found?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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