Why Did You Become an Art Teacher? AME: 096



As an artist and a teacher you have the unique ability to inspire kids…to help THEM become artists, critical thinkers, decision makers and creators.

As art teachers, we strive to be completely original, to inspire passion through process and pattern, and hopefully our students will appreciate our efforts.

But if it’s our goal to generate original ideas and projects that lure children away from their iPhone’s and back to their sketchbooks, we have to work hard.

It’s hard to develop a program that addresses the emotional, creative and academic needs of all kids. Not to mention the requirement to provide rubrics, assessments, scope & sequence and essential questions.

It can get a little crazy!

You may start to wonder WHY you became an art teacher in the first place.

I put this show together because I sense some friction. I’m in a position to hear from many, many teachers…who teach in a variety of situations and locations.

I sense that there is a desire to move towards teaching art the right way. You want to inspire kids by day but come back to your own life at night…to come home inspired from teaching. To have the emotional and physical energy to enjoy your family, your friends and fill your own creative well.

One way to find a path that allows you to teach from the best part of you is to identify what your strengths are and to hold onto them.

Perhaps one of the three types of art teachers resonates with you?

 1. Academic

 2. The Artist

 3. The Volunteer

In today’s episode, I’m pulling back the curtain and sharing how these three types of teachers can not only help each other but reveal how you can live your best life.


– The many reasons why we may look to a career in teaching art

– Why we strive to be original as art teachers

– The three processes in which you came to becoming a classroom art teacher

– Why we need to know our limitations and use the tools that are available for us





You can visit Patty through Deep Space Sparkle on Facebook and Instagram




 Now, it’s YOUR turn….WHY did you become an art teacher? 

Share your responses below…

What do you think?

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  • Laura Hobby

    I became an art teacher because, in art, there is not one right answer.

  • Michelle Gifford

    I’ve shared my story on the podcast (Episode 87), but I became an art teacher when I transferred to a new school and was expected to teach art to my 2nd graders. I am an Academic. I love the history of art, the stories of famous artists, and the connection of art to other areas of the curriculum. These elements are still at the core of the art curriculum that I deliver to my students each year. What I lacked was the artistic background to teach art with any degree of confidence. That’s where Deep Space Sparkle changed my life. It gave me the knowledge, tools, lessons, ideas, and experience that I needed to help my students create art that they enjoy and take pride in. With these new tools, my passion for teaching art grows and expands each year. At the same time, art increasingly becomes the highlight of each week for my students. It fosters a sense of joy, beauty, creativity, exploration, and excellence that spreads to every part of our classroom experience. After 21 years of teaching, I feel more motivated and excited about my career than ever, and that is largely due to the invaluable role of art in my classroom.

    • Patty

      As always, you articulate things so well. I love your journey. I’ve learned so much from you!

  • Jean McMahon

    I am an a academic MEd in curriculum) but I am also an artist at heart. Art is usually seen as a classroom teachers responsibility but about 17 years ago a principal noticed what I was doing and asked if I woul teach all the grade 7 and 8 student (along with English etc). Then I also was asked to teach kindergarten as well. Now I teach JK/SK to grade 6 art and am in the library for half the day. In my school board an elementary art teacher is rare so I am a lucky girl.

  • David Meade

    I became an art teacher through a very long and strange journey. Patty, as you might remember. But finally, I became an art teacher because I wanted to teach others about my love for art and how that there are no right or wrongs in art. Just create and express yourself.

    • Patty

      Love that. And yes, I remember your journey!xo

  • Penny

    I’m old, so when I graduated from UNC, and art was still my ‘thing’, I knew I had to go into art education to even think about obtaining a job. I did teach awhile, did other things…interior decoration shop and fancy window treatment sewing, senior citizen activities director (Alzheimers), volunteering at any artsy thing I could with my son, and now back to elem art…..
    From all that my son experiences today as a grad. , I think young people have to graduate with options. Fine arts major is ok, but thinking you can be an artist and make a living, is quite the challenge. So combining a fine art arts degree with other minors is what I would do if done over.
    Today, my job is a constant challenge that makes me a better person. Teachers do become everything….parent, psychologist, disciplinarian, coach, and although it is exhausting, it makes me very happy to watch a child be creative and get messy. (Most parents don’t have time for messy, they’re busy just getting the daily routines done) One of my big bulletin boards is all about what art careers they could consider, with 20 choices/photos. And although I see the beauty of technology, I also see the lack of skills that technology is taking away…..handwriting, small motor skills, thinking “outside the screen”. It seems every year there’s a major shift. Last 3 yrs it was ASW….oh me oh my….I understood it, finally got OK at it, and now no more, and I’m glad. This coming fall it’s EL education….expeditionary learning, which is awesome too. So I have alot to discover this summer. Being a classroom teacher is something you must love in order to stay the course. In NC teachers are not at all paid what they are worth. It’s sad for our future. I see the hours good teachers work, it’s amazing. I see the hours of the extracurricular teachers (art, PE, music, librarian, STEM, technology, chinese) and it’s stunning. I could easily be these students’ grandmother, it’s embarassing. But together with my principal, I’ve decided that it’s ok….bc children should have exposure to all ages and know that their real grandparents do know wonderful things and experienced rich learning that they can embrace as a child, you know? I hope they reach out to their grandparents and tell them what they did in art. Patty, I love your inner spirit, your willingness to work alongside, not above or under. You are a shining gem in my life, thank you!
    P.S. My mom, who is 91, comes in everyday to do all sorts of oddities, and she helps with my sewing club. Gotta love it!
    Have a beautiful summer DSS!

    • Nancy

      I so agree with all your comments! Gettin messy, all the hard work that goes into teaching an extracurricular classes, under paid, but I do it for the kids and i love what i do! Thank you for what you do, we need more people like you!

  • Frances Baldwin

    Three years ago I reactivated my certification when my son left for college, needing just one course requirement. I had subbed over the years but never had pursued a “real” art teacher position. Well I got a part time position with a contract, teaching k-3 and it has fit perfectly with life! It was a HUGE learning curve the first year and brought out tremendous anxiety issues, as I am an introverted type. But through many PD days and mentoring I learned how to be resilient , to stick to my lesson plans in the midst of misbehaviors, to seek collaboration and accept disappointments as a pathway to growth, to be hopeful and to appreciate resulting artwork. It has been an amazing, surprising, exhausting, unexpected time of personal growth in the area of communicating, and then additionally learning to instruct using all those assessment strategies. Many of my mornings in class began by listening to your great podcasts before greeting students!

  • Carrie M

    Because childhood is so short, I wanted to put some magic back in to childhood. I love seeing the kids excited, they always ask, “What are we going to do in art today?” How could you not love that excitement!

  • Sherry Walker-Taylor

    Your first response to my comments will be “She’s crazy!” I will leave information about the school at the end. I would say that my category is facilitator/artist. Why did I become an art teacher? Because I am so old that I taught art at various levels for 46 years. 35 years at the school I retired from at 68. When I was deciding what I would choose to do (back then) my choices were basically secretary, nurse, teacher. Because I was fairly interested in Art, I chose art teacher. Did I have the same interest level when I retired for health reason? Yes, and more so. My career ended with a very satisfying feeling.
    5-10% of art work was something I’d seen/90% were things that came from head and imagination. *They were the most fun!! I was very lucky to have the curriculum be my own. A lot of work, but worth it.

    Some things I was able to initiate at my last school: Our own Gallery (on a very, very long wall) for both
    student and professional artist shows, an annual Arts Month of performances/visits from art, music, dance, literature complete with a brochure, Kids Teach! field trip-4th gr children visited nursing home to teach residents art projects, Guest Artist visits/workshops, Saturday pottery classes, a one-night ART extravaganza with oodles of art stations/work to take home, Field Trips to the High Museum, Atlanta, for the block-buster, one-person exhibits.
    I was lucky enough to begin a volunteer program for parent/s to help mount and tape backs of 2-D art work. Takes some work, but we had some volunteers who came back year after year. A reception at year’s end was a good touch.

    Very few of my students will take on being an artist as a career, but they can go to galleries & museums,
    purchase fine art work, take art classes in college and beyond, be a board member of an arts organization, take their children to art classes, museums, etc.
    How lucky I felt to have spent 35 years at a great school!
    **The Walker School, Marietta, GA is a private school, grades Early Learners (3s)-12th. We do have a good budget, there is enough to mount student art work to look nice for the hallways. teachers are usually flexible, the Administration has a “try it” attitude when it comes to new ideas and activities, and our volunteers are a great help.

  • Rita Gross

    This will be my first year officially teaching art even though I earned my license ten years ago at the age of 40. My journey has been a long one. So in a nutshell, I chose a career change so I could teach children (especially the disadvantaged) that they have options. They can use art as an emotional outlet or as a way to provide a living for themselves.

  • Julia Thomas

    I was an Art Director for 8 years. I stopped to have my 4 boys. I wished to change careers because I fell in love with teaching my boys. I went back to gain a teaching degree to teach Kindergartners. I fell into teaching art! What luck I happen to ask a traveling art teaching at my son’s school how she got her job! There was an available position! I got it! The rest is history. I got my single subject in Art to teach Art to high school students; I teach Kinders art as well!

  • Mariana Ruiz

    Well, actually I had been working as drawing model for a group of art women, I just paid through some of my college expenses by doing that… and when I was back from college and looking for work the art teacher, the leader of the group, said to me: “let’s re-open my Art Children’s Studio, I’ll teach you everything, we will be partners” and I said YES and learned a lot (I am a writer by profession) and found it relaxed me.

    When she decided to close shop again, I moved to another city, but carried half of the stuff!! I don’t have a teacher art studio or background but now I’m a children’s author and do academy research on children’s books… so I decided to mix both experiences and offer teachers and kids alike lessons based on available children’s books… I did a ton of free stuff to test out my ideas but now I’m actually being paid for one art date for kids, we do it once a month in a library. I also work for free with about a hundred kids from ages 4 to 17 in a special facility and I love that, they give me free way to test out everything!

  • Rebecca Koenig

    I loved to volunteer at my sons school and I thought I wanted to be an elementary teacher. I had to take just ONE art class. I loved making art in high school as a kid. My mom even put me into painting classes. Anyway, I did so well in Drawing I that the professor said I should be an art teacher. I told my mom and she told me to stay on track for elementary teaching but take one more art class – 2D design. One thing lead to another and my adviser said that they had too many elementary ed students and if I could do art and teach it, I should. I ended up subbing for two years before getting this position but I love my career! Happy dance!

  • Lynn

    I became an Art Teacher this year by volunteering for it at my sons’ school. Art was going to be taken away due to budget concerns. I refused to see that happen. I was a classroom teacher prior to my oldest child’s birth, and now a stay at home mom, but NO formal art training. But I’m Theatre Educator, the Arts are very dear to my heart, so I volunteered this “role”. I have LOVED every second of it. I do feel like I lack the inherent know how with tools and proper techniques that a real art teacher possess. But I love teaching art. It has become my passion and I’m eager and excited to learn new things in this world of art. I cannot thank DSS enough. I’m learning so much being a member. My room is filled with amazing bundles of art and there are so many amazing resources here to help me grow as this art teacher. And I’ve just begun the journey.

    • Patty

      I cant get over how our paths are so similar….and like so many of the members in the Sparklers Club. We’re on this journey together!

  • Amie Casados

    I love Art and teaching Art was extremely rewarding! To share the art experience is the best feeling ever!! I love to see the students eyes light up when the see their finished creations!!
    Unfortunately a mother did not like me so she falsely accused me of hitting her child and I lost my job as an art teacher!