Professional Practice

6 Ways to Support New and “New-to-You” Art Teachers

paint and brushes

Are you a new or “new-to-art” teacher? Do you have a new teacher joining your team? Perhaps you’re an administrator looking to hire an art teacher. If so, then both you and the newbie will need support! What that looks like will vary depending on your school community. Regardless, being an art teacher means having very unique and specific needs. You may not even be aware of what these needs are or what they look like in action yet.

If you’re not sure where to start, head over to our First-Year Art Teacher’s Guide which is packed with resources to directly support you in your new career. Then, keep reading to find the help you’re looking for no matter your situation.

Whether you’re new, “new-to-art,” or know someone who is new, gain specific support for your unique situation below.

teacher with students

You are a veteran teacher supporting a new but seasoned art teacher.

You may be a veteran teacher about to welcome a new addition to your team who is also just as experienced as you. Supporting these teachers is a bit nuanced. That new team member is coming with a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new placement. You want to help them settle in without being too overbearing. However, they don’t know the ins and outs of their new school. These teachers need time to learn how the school works, get to know their students, and navigate community relationships. Finding the right people to connect with is important for this art teacher.

Review these tips as you support your “new to you” veteran teacher:

PRO Learning is an on-demand professional development for art teachers, by art teachers. It’s full of hands-on tutorials, teacher-facing resources, and strategies to support your growth as an art teacher at any stage of your career. There are over 200 Packs on a wide variety of art education topics from art mediums to curricular approaches to instructional methodologies. If you’re not a PRO member, learn how to get PRO for your district.

Check out the two PRO Learning Packs below:

  1. Building Leadership Skills as an Art Educator
  2. Making the Most of Your PLC

you got this

You are coming right out of an undergraduate art education program.

As a brand new art teacher, you bring so much energy and excitement to the role! You’ve got the theory and knowledge behind you, but really need classroom experience to apply your art teacher training. You probably carry some nerves with you as you step foot into a new environment of unknowns. Remember, there’s no handbook. You are going to need a lot of support these first few years of teaching as you gain confidence. Make sure to find your people who will help support you in different areas.

In the meantime, get started with these three resources:

  1. First-Year Art Teacher’s Guide
  2. 16 Things I Wish I Knew About Teaching as a New Art Teacher
  3. Dear First-Year Art Teacher… Advice and Resources From Veteran Art Teachers

Access the De-escalation Strategies for Challenging Behaviors Pack in PRO Learning to help you manage your classroom like a pro.

You are moving from the general classroom to the art room.

With the passing of Proposition 28 in California, more schools are bringing general education classroom teachers into the art room, and many other states are investing in the arts as well. Teaching art is an exciting path as students explore their creativity and visualize ideas. No matter what level you move into, making art with your students is a lot of fun! However, some challenges and demands are unique to teaching art. From managing supplies and designing scaffolded art curriculum to learning how to assess art and connect the visual arts standards, there’s still so much to learn about the art room.

Check out these resources to get you ready for the art room:

Take a look at the Designing Effective Assessment Practices and Routines for Managing Supplies Packs in PRO Learning to help you dig into the nuances of teaching art. If you’re looking for support in techniques and media, you can filter PRO Learning Packs by media! There are Packs on a wide range of mediums including tempera paint, crochet, printmaking, photography, and so much more.

paint and brushes

You are moving from an art career to teaching art.

Artists moving into the teaching career path already bring a love and deep knowledge of the visual arts. Thanks to Prop 28, we are seeing more funding for these career artists to join the classroom. However, making art and teaching art are very different. Learning how to break down processes so that others can follow takes time. Managing a classroom of thirty or more is an additional learning curve that never gets dull. Plus, differentiation, inclusion, supporting students with IEPs or 504 Plans, and assisting ELL students may all be new considerations.

Take a look at the articles below to support you in your new role:

Check out the Packs, The Building Blocks of Effective Curriculum and Understanding and Implementing IEPs in PRO Learning to start the year off strong.

You are an art teacher moving into a mentor or support role.

You’ve been teaching for a while now and you’re gaining a new teammate! While some schools have a stipend for a formal mentor position, you will, at the minimum, need to support your new colleague informally. Even if you’re not paid to mentor a new teacher, this kind of support will come back to you tenfold as you build your team and collaborate. Being a team player and supporting a new addition will help grow your school’s art program and align your department.

These three resources will help you mentor a new art teacher without overburdening your schedule:

  1. 7 Important Considerations When Mentoring New Teachers
  2. Become the Best Mentor Ever With These 3 Tips
  3. The Importance of Mentoring (Ep. 211)

Check out Packs, Surviving your First Year of Elementary/Middle/High School Art in PRO Learning for essential first-year tips.

line of hands

You are an administrator supporting a new art teacher.

Your new teachers, regardless of which path they come from, are going to look to you, their administration, for support. How can you help these new art teachers if you aren’t an art expert yourself? Plus, you may have so many content areas to focus on that it can be hard to know where to start.

First, provide art-specific professional development like PRO Learning and the NOW Conference. PRO Learning Packs such as Managing the Classroom and Preparing for Evaluations and Observations will get you and your new art teachers feeling confident their first year. The NOW Conference is the world’s largest online conference for art teachers. The presentations cover emerging trends and topics in art education and the entire event fosters an energetic community of networking and artmaking. Both of these invaluable resources will keep your team of art teachers’ skills sharp and their enthusiasm high!

Then, take a look at these articles to get your teachers started on the right foot:

Another easy way to support your art teachers is to provide them with FLEX Curriculum. FLEX is a standards-aligned curriculum packed with lessons and student-facing resources like assessments, videos, and more. All of these resources at their fingertips will give your art teachers space and time to prioritize their classroom, students, and other essential day-to-day needs. Reach out today to learn more!

No matter how you became an art teacher, being a new hire has unique challenges. Teaching art will fill you with joy when you’re supported in the right ways. The goal is not only to find the right fit but also to make sure art teachers everywhere stay in the field for many years to come. It really does “take a village” when it comes to creating a supportive teaching community. Asking for and providing the right resources, like the ones above, are essential to creating a positive long-term experience. Here’s to many more years of building a strong team of art teachers and making an impact on your future artists!

What are your best tips to support a new art teacher? 

Share a support you wish you had as a first-year art teacher.

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.


Janet Taylor

Janet Taylor, a high school art educator, is also AOEU’s K–12 Content Specialist and a former AOEU Writer. She geeks out about choice-based curriculum, assessment strategies, and equipping new teachers.

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