Ms. Barbara Kucera, Art and Head of Aesthetics
How long have you been teaching, and what’s your background?
I have taught art for 3 years now. But prior to getting my Bachelor in Education I also taught ESL in South Korea and Spain. I think this experience really helps when teaching in foreign schools. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Windsor, (Ontario) which is where I grew up.
What is the most stressful part of beginning a career as an art teacher?
I think the most stressful part for me is whether or not I am doing it right. A lot of the time I have to rely on only my judgement for which knowledge requirements can link to which project and how to grade properly without bias. This subject can be very subjective and that makes it tricky to do on your own with only a few years experience under ones belt.
What is the best part of being an art teacher?
The best part is the fact that I love art. I love to paint, and draw and express myself through different media. Having passion for the subject you teach, makes the job actually fun. I love teaching students new techniques and when they can produce new things themselves and see themselves getting better, its a great feeling.
What do you find the most rewarding about being an art teacher?
The most rewarding part is seeing the students notice their own progress. When they themselves can see how they have improved from on drawing to the next. This really motivates them to want to try harder and experiment more.
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?
In my first year of teaching art, I had to teach collage/photo-montage and how to combine images to create a collage that contained a message. Having never worked with collage myself I found it challenging how to explain a successful combination of images vs. an unsuccessful combination. Luckily I had a mentor at the time who was able to give me some tips and actually had examples of these successful and unsuccessful collages for students to see. Actual examples will always be more clear to students than any explanation, I have found.
How do you handle difficult students and tough situations in the classroom?
I try my best to be fair and kind to all my students. When a student is struggling with his/her work or feels frustrated, I try to break he task down even further to help the student improve bit by bit. I do move students around so to not distract from those wanting to work. A lot of times, I find students work well when they are on their own, or not sitting with friends. I try my best to make sure there are some projects that include choosing something that you like. I have had students who did not seem to like art at all and when they got to choose their own theme for a Google Design project, they worked so well and produced some great designs.
How do you balance your regular life with that of being a teacher?
My regular life naturally includes art making on a weekly basis, simply because it is what I enjoy doing and am passionate about. I have shown my paintings to my students at times, when applicable to the project and I feel this helps students to relate to the teacher as an artist. I think this also helps students who do aspire to make it as an artist to see art work being done outside the classroom. I am currently working on a series of paintings for mental health awareness and hope to display my work where students could have the opportunity to see their teacher outside the classroom setting as well.
Do you have any advice for people entering the teaching profession as an art teacher? What do you wish someone told you before you started?
I think the most important thing is to make sure you love (or at least like) the subject you are teaching. A teacher with passion and knowledge for a subject can very much effect how a student learns this subject and in turn, how much they enjoy it. It is also important that you know your subject well. Students can easily tell when a teacher does not know what they are talking about. Practice a technique or skill before teaching if you are unsure. A passionate, knowledgeable and fair teacher is what I strive to be in each lesson.
History of the Telephone – Artwork at IES Liljeholmen by Ms.Kucera