Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interviewing for an Art Position: Part 1

Well, as it turns out, I just can't seem to give myself a two week vacation from thinking about school!  I'm sick of cleaning and my boredom caught up with me...as well as my excitement over finally finding my example syllabus I created in college!  (So yes, I have started working on my syllabus for my high school art classes!)  As I was cleaning out the future baby's room, I found this...my professional visual arts teaching portfolio.  And then it dawned on me that I've never really shared the preparation and tools I was given for the interview process at the end of my college career..thus the inspiration for this post!

 During my last year at SUNY Potsdam, I actually cross-registered with St. Lawrence University to get my visual arts certification.  I did my student teaching through SLU.  One of the most beneficial classes I think I participated in was the Art Methods class, which was actually taught by two current art teachers from St. Lawrence county.  In this class, we were required to do many things during the course of our student teaching semester:

1. Create and utilize two visual rubrics
2. Create and utilize two unit plans.
3. Create an artwork based on our student teaching experience.
4. Practice a teaching demo to our college class before using it with our students.
5. Compile a visual arts teaching portfolio.

My student teaching process went like this...For the first month of the semester, we attended class from 8am-4pm with a one hour lunch break on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  On Tuesday and Thursdays, we were required to observe at our student teaching placement and keep a journal.  We then had to attend class from 4:30-7:30 at night on those days.  Student teaching then began for approximately 12 weeks.  During those 12 weeks, we had to meet for Art Methods class on Wednesday nights from 4:30-7:30.  This is when we had to share our visual rubrics, unit plans, demo, etc.  Finally, after student teaching, we had class again for two weeks, Monday-Friday to finish up all our required work and reflect on our experiences.

The purpose of the visual arts teaching portfolio was a way to neatly showcase everything we had accomplished up to the point of graduation and have a organized way to share this information during an interview.  Here is what was included in this portfolio:

Letter of Introduction
Philosophy of Teaching Art
Personal Artist Statement

Part 1: Evidence of Planning, Implementation and Assessment
Complete Learning Unit
Classroom Management
Assessment Documents
Interdisciplinary Lessons/Units
Technology Integration
Hopefully I won't have to use this portfolio for an interview again, but if I do, I will most certainly update this section by adding evidence of me being able to use the Common Core Curriculum!

Part 2: Student Work
I included four examples of units that included project description, photos of students working and finished student work, and a copy of any assessment documents

Section 3: Personal Artwork
Included here were photographs of artwork from my favorite four art media.

Section 4: Professional Goals
Student Evaluations
Professional Development Plan 
(Discussion of student evaluations and how they impact my goals for future professional development.)

Now, this portfolio is a really great tool, but you need to use it during interviews!  At the end of our student teaching, we went through mock interviews and even though I brought my portfolio, I was so nervous I never opened it up and referenced it!  

Before I was hired at my current school, I interviewed at two other schools.  At the first one, I was almost so nervous again that I just barely remembered to reference my portfolio.  At the second, I did a lot better using it, but I stumbled around a bit trying to find the specific pages I wanted to reference.

Before my third, and thankfully, final interview, I decided to add more tabs.  We were required to have some tabs to help maneuver through the portfolio, but I short changed myself because I didn't think I'd be so nervous during an interview!  I added more of these reference tabs and at my third interview, I used my portfolio to its fullest potential.

The great thing about this portfolio is that it just about covers everything you might be asked in an interview, and gives you a way to back up anything you might talk about.  

Other things you could add to this portfolio are documents that show how you communicate with parents/guardians at home, classroom rules/procedures/expectations, a document about your classroom management style, etc.

Also included in my portfolio was my Cartooning Curriculum (created during my Masters program) and this Classroom Management Survival Guide (which was created over the course of student teaching for my Classroom Management class), which I will get into more in Part 2 of my Interviewing for an Art Position post.  It includes many more aspects and theories in teaching that might be helpful to have and reference during an interview.


  1. Wow! What a difference 25 years makes! My resume was a neatly typed piece of paper! That's it! I'm impressed that's some portfolio of work! Great post! :)

    1. Yes, they surely made us jump through hoops in this program! It was a very stressful semester, chalked full of work. Lots of students were very stressed, but I went through it with the mindset that this was probably a lot more work than what would be required if I actually got a job (and in a way, it was), so if I could make it through that and survive, than I could surely survive teaching!

  2. So glad you wrote this post. You will help a lot of new art teachers!

  3. That's great! I had a lot of that in my portfolio over the years, but eventually took out artist's statement, teaching philosophy, etc, as I noticed that no one really looked at it due to time constraints, and they really liked the visual stuff. So i took out the papers and added more actual assignment examples, along with the lesson plan to help them see the essential questions and rubric.