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A Love Letter to Art Teachers Everywhere

It’s no question working in the world of education is filled with challenges and triumphs. However, sometimes the challenges seem to outweigh the joys. We’re approaching the time of year when we question ourselves as educators. We feel underappreciated, overworked, and, as a result, are continually second-guessing ourselves. Teaching art is an extraordinary career, but there are days when we are filled with doubt and find it hard to do what we love.

Here’s the thing, you are making a difference every day. That’s why this letter is for you.

colored pencils in a heart


A Love Letter to Art Teachers Everywhere

Dear Art Teachers,

We love you for creating a hardworking environment for fun and play.

For every time you’ve heard someone say the art room is “just a playground” or a “place to finger paint,” know that within that fun and play you are instilling creativity and innovation in your students. The future architects, artists, creatives, and designers in your classes right now might not tell you this, but they will be thankful for the opportunities YOU gave them to explore and express themselves.

We love you for going the extra mile.

We see you spending countless hours displaying student work, hanging it up and taking it down over and over again. We know it takes time and energy to do what others might think is your way of decorating the hallways. You won’t see all the moments when a student attends a basketball game, music program, parent-teacher conference, or other activity at school and is ecstatic to show off their work. They might not ever tell you, but know that your students are so excited you are celebrating their hard work by sharing it with the entire school.

We love you for being unique.

At times, it might seem you aren’t taken seriously because you are “only the art teacher.” Maybe a student isn’t engaged, or a colleague views your job as easy. In these moments, it does not matter what the outsider thinks. Take pride in knowing you are challenging others. You are challenging them to look beyond the surface. They may not fully understand what you do, but you do, and that’s what matters.

pens and hearts

We love you for never giving up.

Plain and simple, there are days at school that are just hard. Maybe you’ve been told your class is “pointless” by a student. You can rationalize all the amazing things you teach until you are blue in the face, but it’s impossible to reach every one of your students. Please know you are providing a fantastic community and safe space for your students to take risks. You can reach students in ways no other teacher can! You provide opportunities for students to open up and show who they really are.

We love you for creating magical experiences no matter the circumstances.

The art room budget is never what it should be. Yet, you do not let that deter the artmaking experience for your students. You spend hours finding alternate ways to fund your program, often opening up your own pocketbook. Your students are worth it, and we applaud you for making every moment magical.

We love you for having grit.

Being an art teacher is not always the easiest role to hold. It can be frustrating, but at the end of the day, you are courageous and brave to try something different, to take risks—all for the sake of your students.

We love you for your compassion.

Thank you for giving a kindergarten student the art room experience that makes them run up to hug you because the art room is the best place in the world. To all the secondary students who see you as a mentor as they look toward their future, thank you. For all of those times you’ve given a granola bar to a student who is hungry because they haven’t eaten since the day before, thank you for showing love.

Sincerely,

Your Fellow Art Teachers Who Love You

Why do you love being an art teacher?

What would you tell another art teacher who needs a little love?

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.

Abby is a middle school art teacher in Omaha, NE. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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