When interview committees and principals interview art teachers, they're looking for someone who can connect with the entire culture of the school. They're looking for a person who empowers students to create beautiful artwork, has a presence in extra-curricular activities, and can effectively manage students in a classroom full of messy, sloppy supplies. An art program is often the proud centerpiece of a school's curriculum and schools want to fill that position with the most competent art teacher available.
Interviewing is stressful for any candidate. My best advice is to be prepared with a complete teaching portfolio and to practice common interview questions beforehand. While you don't need to rehearse what you'll say word-for-word, it's not a bad idea to prepare yourself by thinking about your responses to general questions that will be asked.
Art teacher candidates can expect the common, general teacher interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How to you integrate technology into your teaching?
- How do you meet the needs of special education students?
- How do you communicate with parents?
But, when hiring art teachers, principals and interview committees have high expectations and often develop more specialized questions. Below are some common questions (and suggestions for answering them) for art teacher interviews:
1. Describe some ways you present and display student work throughout the school and throughout the community.
Whether you like it or not, the art teacher is often responsible for setting the decor of the entire school. You'll likely be responsible for keeping the halls full of student work and updating displays on a regular basis. You'll be the one they turn to when they want a mural painted on the gymnasium wall. They'll run to your room when it's time to set up the annual display in the district office building. And, when the community art show comes around, you'll be the one that is expected to coordinate it. When it's time to create the yearly district events calendar, you know they'll be turning to the art teacher for a collection of high-quality student work samples. Art teachers have a HUGE responsibility outside of general teaching. You need to reassure the interview committee that you're aware of these responsibilities and are excited to take on these challenges.
2. Show us pictures of your work as an artist.
You should have your teaching portfolio with you at an interview. Since you're an artist, your portfolio should include pictures of your own artwork, in addition to lesson plans and student artwork. Be sure the works you show the committee are appropriate for a school setting. Don't show them your latest nude sketch or a violent scene. Keep the content of the material in your portfolio light, upbeat, and positive.
3. Describe some of the art projects your students have loved.
This is a simple question. Describe your "best work" as a teacher. In other words, you're looking to tell them about project that was engaging to the students, educational in terms of artistic development, and well-received by others when it was displayed. Pass around some pictures of this lesson from your teaching portfolio!
4. How can you make the most of a small budget for art supplies?
Many school districts can't offer you huge amounts of money for art projects. Explain that you're a natural bargain shopper. You'll always seek out the best deals on art supplies.
You should remind the interviewer of your no-waste philosophy. You don't let kids throw away big scraps of paper that can be used again. You'll try to unclog those stuffed up glue bottles, rather than throw them away.
Also, let them know that you can make artwork from simple, everyday household objects. Maybe you know how to make Christmas ornaments from light bulbs or you can turn empty soup cans into lanterns.
5. How can you connect your activities in the art room into lessons taught within other subject areas?
You can easily connect art to Social Studies by teaching cultural art. Example: If students are learning about Australia, you can teach kids to make Aboriginal Dot Paintings in art. You can also connect art to historical themes by making connections with art history. You can also tie into Reading and Writing by teaching kids to describe and critique artwork.
6. Why do you think art is an important part of a child's education?
This answer, will of course, vary from person to person. Some things you might want to think about: Art is a small, but important part of a well-rounded education program. Art teachers stimulate students' imaginations, by encouraging them to express themselves creatively. Art teachers develop students' self-esteem, by allowing them to discover other talents they may have that go beyond the rest of the school's curriculum. And art teachers help students to better accept the world in which they live by inviting them to view things in different ways.
7. Art teachers have a unique set of classroom management challenges because you see so many kids for such a short time-- what would you do when a kid is off-task, unmotivated, or not participating in a lesson?
The most effective way of avoiding behavioral problems is to keep students interested, involved, and engaged from the moment they walk into your room to the moment they leave. It is essential to have classroom rules posted clearly in your classroom. Routines are important-- kids should know where to sit, when to get materials, what the clean up procedures are. As the teacher, you must enforce the rules and routines consistently each and every day.
Hopefully, you use positive reinforcement to encourage the best behaviors. You praise your students' efforts often, and you offer constructive criticism in a positive way. When kids do misbehave, it's best to handle situations on your own, when possible. (Only the most severe cases of disruption or violence should be sent to the office.) Taking away privileges or responsibility is often an effective method for managing classroom behavior problems.
8. Art is an elective, which means you'll have to promote student interest in your courses. How will you do this?
This question is for candidates that are interviewing for high school art positions. The simplest answer to explain how you engage students in worthwhile art activities. The final projects come out so beautifully that students are proud of their work, see their talent, and have a strong desire to create more!