One weekday morning, imagine you are strolling through the Blanton. As you look around, you notice groups of school children touring the galleries. You can feel their excitement as they move through the museum. At the helm of these groups are gallery teachers, helping the students see the art in new and unexpected ways. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a part of that? And so you think, “can I help students engage with art? Can I be a gallery teacher?” The answer is yes—we’re currently recruiting our next group of gallery teachers!
From what the time commitment is, to training, to how to apply, we tackle some commonly asked questions below. Or if you’ve already made up your mind, apply now!
What is a gallery teacher?
Excellent question! Simply, a gallery teacher is a volunteer who teaches school groups in our galleries. Teaching in the galleries takes many forms and gallery teachers often find themselves facilitating discussions about color and shape, guiding activities, and helping students explore big picture ideas (like emotions and social justice) – all in the same lesson! As a gallery teacher you will get the opportunity to introduce students to the Blanton (many for the first time) and give them an experience that they will remember for a lifetime.
What makes a good gallery teacher?
There is no one mold for good gallery teachers, but they all share a few things in common. Warm, engaging, and enthusiastic; these are some of my favorite adjectives that describe the best gallery teachers. They enjoy what they do and it shows in their preparation and engagement with the students. They aren’t afraid to try new things and different approaches to help students learn. If you are passionate about art, art education, and want to help students learn in a unique and special environment, you can be a good gallery teacher.
Who can be a gallery teacher?
Any adult or graduate student who shares our goal of providing engaging and memorable experiences for students can apply to be a gallery teacher. If you are interested in what we do and would like to be a part of it, apply!
Do I have to have any experience?
No, you don’t need any prior gallery teaching experience – we will train you! Good gallery teachers come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some are former classroom teachers, some are artists, some are working professionals, and some are stay-at-home parents. No matter your background, the best thing to bring to the table is an enthusiasm for working with school children and an interest in art.
So, you say you will train me. What is that like?
For new gallery teachers we will hold a 5-week training series in early January and February 2017. Training sessions will be held every Monday (excluding the MLK Jr. Holiday) from 9 AM to 1 PM. These trainings will cover everything from teaching strategies to information about the museum and our collection. We will also provide online training modules that highlight key works. These modules will be completed as part of the 5-week training series.
What is the time commitment?
We ask that our volunteer gallery teachers be available to teach on at least one weekday morning (10 AM to 1 PM) per week (Tuesday through Friday) and that they teach at least three days a month. At most you will teach two hours during your four-hour window of availability. At first glance, this seems like a big commitment. Don’t worry. You are not required to be at the museum for the full four hours every day that you are available. We will schedule you for lessons and let you know well in advance so you can plan your time around teaching.
Who will I teach?
This is a great question! Primarily, you will be teaching area PK-12 students. Last year we saw over 12,000 PK-12 students and our numbers keep growing. As a volunteer gallery teacher you will have the opportunity to work with students of all age groups. One lesson you may lead a group of kindergartners on a Tales and Trails, and the next you will have a group of 8th graders in the galleries focusing on artists and society. It is never a dull experience!
At this point you may be thinking, “I am great with 4th and 5th graders, but I am not sure I would be very good at teaching middle schoolers.” That’s okay! We know that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and as long as you are interested in working with school children and are willing to learn and be flexible, we want you to apply.
What does a gallery lesson look like?
I like where you are going here! You may be thinking that a gallery lesson involves a lot of standing and talking to a group of students. Maybe you are thinking that you will have to lecture to them. Here at the Blanton, our gallery lessons follow a different model. No two gallery lessons are identical, but they all will focus on 4 to 6 works of art and include a combination of interpretive conversations, interactive activities, and a focus on building visual and critical thinking skills. Activities may include drawing, working with manipulatives (like string and pipe cleaners), writing, or even drama.
This is great! I want to apply, what do I do next?
Excellent! We’d love for you to apply. Just click here to access our online application and submit yours by November 1, 2016. We will be reaching out to applicants in early November to schedule interviews.
Laura Kilian Jaster is the Coordinator of Docents and Tours at the Blanton. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Masters degree in Art History. For more information or additional questions, she can be reached at 512-471-5025, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.