So You Want to Teach Art?

I was reticent to go into teaching at first, but in my Junior year, after a practicum and Senior student teaching in art education, I realized that my personality was perfect for the job. If you do not like kids, then teaching is not for you! They will tease, cajole and test every fiber of your patience. Especially if you were a “special subject teacher” like I was. The “regular” teachers will too. My schedule involved teaching 1200 children art once a week. I was a traveling art teacher for a few of my sixteen years in art. When you go into another classroom, it is their domain!There are special rules that a visiting teacher must follow. Never step on the authority of the classroom teacher. It is very humbling to be a “special”. Some of the children would ask me if an art teacher, music teacher, and Physical Ed teacher had gone to college. They would often ask me if I was a real teacher. After an art/social study lesson on ancient Egypt, my students would tell me that I should be a real teacher and teach social studies. Flattered and yet humbled, I didn’t really know how to take it. Was that a compliment?After the birth of my fourth child, I achieved a Masters in Art. It took me twelve years to finish. I was like that bunny that ran across your TV set that just kept going, and going and going. I would tell my students to try something new or something that they thought they didn’t like. Some of us have to try harder, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you can do it, or even if you like it. What if a child never stepped foot on a stage. Would he or she become an actor? What if a physicist never looked at the stars as a child? You know what I mean.My art teaching life was filled with challenges. The art teacher, besides planning and delivering an art program for kindergarten to grade twelve, must also be a diplomat throughout the school. There is scenery to be built, decorating the gym for dances and shows, signs for Parent Teacher Organizations, signs for the Principal’s needs for order in the building, helping teachers with bulletin boards, decorating the entire school ‘s windows for changing seasons, judging science fairs, be a guest at child study team meetings to show a particular student’s art, give teacher art workshops, meet with parents, draw circles on the floor for the kindergarten to sit on, pick up classes from assemblies if it is during a teacher’s art class (prep) time, attend assemblies during teacher’s “prep” time, distribute the school’s art supply order, and substitute teach when many teachers were absent. Should I continue? Now do you want to be an art teacher? I had amazing energy, but did get worn out enough to catch the flu a few times during my art career.When I was pregnant with my fifth and last child, the Principal called us into his office and told us that they were cutting the special subjects and we better have another certification. Well, with five children supported on a teacher’s salary, I needed that job! My home-economics friend and I bought the National Teachers’ Exam prep book and studied like fiends. We passed! I was an art teacher! Amazing! She taught boys and girls to cook and make clothes! Amazing!My friend got a job teaching 5th grade and they placed me in the Title 1, Basic Skills Program since they were conserving money. The Government paid half of my salary. With my masters, I was nearing the top of the pay scale. Also, it was easy to place me there since I was starting in November. My son was born on September 15th after I attended the first week of school with a very large belly! I returned to work after a C section, with only a six weeks maternity leave. Greeting me at home was my precious new baby boy, four other beautiful children and my stack of material for the four grade levels I would be teaching. Sleep? What’s that? Don’t expect to sleep when you have a large family and a full time job. All I had to carry now was a handful of books instead of boxes of glue, art materials and stacks of construction paper. I could also wear teacher clothes. Gone were the slacks, smocks and splattered abstract expressionist blouses that had to be tossed at the end of the day!I shared my space with another teacher who kept asking me how I could teach reading, writing and math, after teaching art. Was it hard? Well, every day I checked homework with my own children who were then in high school, and I knew the subject matter quite well. Our teacher editions had the answers. I was confident. I passed the National Teacher’s Exam on the first try, and after teaching art for sixteen years, I had experience in relating art to every subject matter. I explained it all, and she never said another word. I was more than qualified. My new certification was from nursery school to grade eight, so I was covered.Little did I know how much I was going to love this new job. The best thing was that my work day ended with my child’s day. So, in his mind, I could have been home all day. I was there to pick him up. Sweet. After school was homework time, with milk and cookies, then some outdoor activity while I prepared dinner, more homework, nursing, bottles, diapers, diaper bag and stroller, little league, lunches, finally my reading, and then collapsing at 11:30 to do it all again starting at 6am. You can and will get through it because children go through stages. They grow up! I think back and cherish every worn out moment.So, teach art if you like. It is fun, creative and a challenge, but get another certification to protect your job, and hang in there until your pension is vested. That is well worth it. I took an early retirement, so I’m off to the river now, with my husband, to paddle whitewater in my Jackson Punk Rocker! See ya later!

Bargain Vs Value – Are You Sabotaging Your Business?

The word “bargain” relates to the price of something; specifically a low price.What about “value”? And what about a distinction between the two? Are these words significant in the application to business services we delegate to freelancers?Bargain. Value. Hmmmm.Lord Byron had a few thoughts on the subject of bargains:”A bargain is in its very essence a hostile transaction. Do not all men try to abate the price of all they buy? I contend that a bargain even between brethren is a declaration of war.”It sounds like Lord Byron spoke from experience. Why else would he be so impassioned? “Hostile transaction. Declaration of war.” Those are strong words.When hiring pros to make their valuable contribution to the success of our businesses, rarely do we look for a bargain. We want many things, but a bargain is not one of them. We want quality, we want integrity, we want dependability and we want all that at a price that has value to us: the price is high enough so we know we’re engaging the services of a skilled professional, but low enough so we can realistically work it into our business budget.Getting a bargain may mean we compromise value and quality in the process of building our businesses. And how can that ever serve our vision and goals?As business owners, confine bargain hunting to actual goods and seek value when hunting for services.It’s a clean distinction and one that fits into big business plans for growth, efficiency, simplicity and continued forward momentum.So, what’s the most effective method to getting value when hiring freelancers?
Ask for referrals. Compare services offered AND pricing based on your needs. Contact references. Establish clear contractual parameters. Start with a small project. Remain actively involved with open and ongoing communication. At the conclusion of the first job, conduct a brief assessment to determine if a second assignment is warranted. For the most part, pros who are compensated fairly do work comparable to their compensation. A bargain price often means bargain deliverables resulting in lost time, effort and the need to start from “square one.” After a bargain-based experience, many entrepreneurs start over with an important lesson learned and a keen eye for getting value, instead of a bargain.Bargains will cost you in the long-run. Learn from others and shorten your learning curve in business. There are plenty of other lessons to learn on your own. This doesn’t have to be one of them.Bargains are good. Services are valuable.

Reproduction Furniture or the Real Thing: Antique Furniture or Copies?

Should you purchase reproduction furniture or the real thing? Is it better to buy antique furniture for your home or copies? The word ‘copy’ might be unfair to cabinetmakers skilled in hand-crafting reproductions since many are better made than the originals, but that is fundamentally what they are.In using the term ‘better made’ there is no intention to suggest that the reproductions are better than the originals. Certainly not in the sense that a copy of the Mona Lisa could ever be better painted than Leonardo Da Vinci’s original.However, it is possible for a reproduction Louis XIV sofa to be stronger than the original due to advances in construction techniques. That is itself is admitting that it would not then be a perfect copy, if there ever could be such a thing.However, this discussion is not about the relative merits of originals and reproductions or copies, but about which would be the better for your home. The original or the copy. While it would be great to be able to afford to buy the originals of such fine furniture, in many respects it would not be suitable for the modern home.How Are Antiques Defined?First, what is the definition of an ‘antique?’ In 1930, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined it as being any item produced prior to 1830. In 1966, the U.S. Customs Office changed this to be any item over 100 years old (for some reason excluding carpets and rugs!) In 1993, this was further amended to include objects that have been amended or restored with modern parts where these do not exceed 50% and where the intrinsic character of the object has not been changed.Given this, then any item made prior to 1913 can be regarded as antique. It is not these items with which we are concerned but furniture of recognized antiquity. Examples include the French Louis and Imperial periods, the UK Georgian periods and earlier, and American colonial furniture.Drawbacks of Original AntiquesA main drawback of original antiques is their great age and value. Would you really want a genuine piece by a great English master of the late 18th century Georgian period to be sitting in your home? A cabinet by the great Thomas Chippendale sold at Christies, London England, in 2008 for £2.4 million (around $3.8 million.)That’s one drawback. The insurance and your reluctance to permit anybody to use it! Thomas Sheraton pieces of around the same era are built with the hallmark Sheraton slender legs that might snap in an instant if leaned upon today. In fact, that’s another major drawback of using genuine antique furniture of value in your home.Benefits of Reproduction FurnitureOne benefit of reproduction furniture is obvious. You can furnish your home with pieces that are practically exact copies of the originals at a very low price. Southwood Furniture is America’s principal and most respect manufacturer of reproduction antique furniture. This company can provide you with reproductions of pieces from the major British and European furniture eras, and also from the American Colonial era.This company is mentioned principally because it is the only furniture manufacturer in the world that has received permission to reproduce the furniture contained in the 36 homes that comprise the Historic New England Museum. It does so beautifully, and you can have any of these pieces reproduced to display and use in your own home.Herein lays the major benefit of reproduction furniture. You get to use these designs without the drawbacks associated with age and wear. The original upholstery is reproduced as far as it is possible to do so, and the woodworking skills are awesome. The turned legs and stretchers are as near to perfect as you will get, and the hand carving is of the highest quality.So, apart from the value and obvious price differences, which would you prefer in your own home: reproduction furniture or the real thing? The real things would be for show only, and would have to be kept well out of reach. The reproduction furniture can be used just as any other piece in your home. Antique furniture or copies? There can only be one answer if you prefer your furniture to be functional!