Eric Hill is one of four art teachers at Lincoln Park High School, and I’m excited to say he’ll be my cooperating teacher for my student teaching experience this spring! Observing him this semester and last has been enlightening and has really got me thinking about teaching at the high school level. Mr. Hill has graciously (and awesomely) given me a few minutes of his time to answer some questions about what it’s like to be an art teacher in real life (a.k.a. not grad school life). Take a look!
How long have you been teaching, and what’s your educational background?
I started teaching with CPS in 2002 at Parker Community Academy located on the South side neighborhood of Englewood. At Parker, I taught Visual Arts to about 1,000 students each week in Pre-K through 8th grades. I currently teach Art I and Studio Sculpture at Lincoln Park High School. I started teaching at Lincoln Park High School in 2008.
I graduated high school from Gould Academy (Bethel, Maine). I took Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture classes at Interlochen Academy Arts Camp during the summer of 1995. I received my BFA with a teaching certificate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002.
What is the most stressful part of beginning a career as an art educator?
Teaching is a career that demands compassion, understanding, and a lot of patience. It doesn’t matter what age level you teach (early childhood or adults), all people learn differently, and I think the stress comes from trying to be accommodating to all the learning styles.
What is the best part of being an art teacher?
The best part of teaching art is showing students how to use techniques, materials, and art history that I’ve had a lifelong passion for. The student energy and learning processes in an art room are awesome, too.
Have you ever been asked to teach an art subject you were unfamiliar with? What was it, and how quickly did you have to learn it?
Yes, I have been asked to teach unfamiliar subject matter in art. My first year at Lincoln Park High School, I was asked to teach a Theater Production class. I had to work with the Drama teacher to create units that mirrored the Performing Arts department’s units. I did a lot of research in drama and drama production to be successful with that class.
How do you handle difficult students and sticky situations in the classroom?
I pride myself on teaching and treating all students fairly. Communication is key in any difficult situation. Everybody has a voice, and understanding and listening are key to handling difficult situations.
How do you balance being a teacher with the rest of your life?
As an art teacher, I balance my life in many ways. These are the most important balancing factors for me:
• staying active as an artist (creating)
• continuing to take classes in studio technique and art education
• staying active in exhibiting my art
• staying current in art trends/exhibitions in the world today.
I also have a 1 1/2 year old son, Henry, who keeps my life exciting and new everyday. Friendships, family, and exercise are also good outlets.
Do you have any advice for people entering the art education profession? What do you wish someone told you before you started?
My advice for anybody entering the teaching profession is to love what you teach and to show compassion/understanding to your students in any situation. I wish someone would of told me to journal about my daily interactions with my students everyday. Everyday is interesting!
Eric Hill is one of four art teachers at Lincoln Park High School, and I’m excited to say he’ll be my cooperating teacher for my student teaching experience this spring! …