An Interpretive Study of Junior High Art Educators' Perceptions of Support



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Background: As an educator with experience in multiple districts, I noticed a difference in support between schools where the arts were unappreciated and schools where art courses were popular. Professional development at these schools was primarily district-based and focused on test scores. Professional development at my location that emphasized on the arts was more authentic and geared towards my content. Instructional coaches (I.C.) provide an extra layer of much-needed support to specific core content areas such as science, math, or language arts. Elective areas, specifically fine art educators, lack the additional support that their core content counterparts receive. Purpose: This study aimed to explore support for fine art educators, including professional development and funding. Professional development provides educators with opportunities to sharpen their skills and excel in their careers. Funding is vital for all government-supported schools because money is disseminated on a per-pupil basis. Regarding fine arts, funding is the difference between the quality and quantity of supplies students use. Methods: A qualitative case study approach was employed in the study, and it is considered best in discovering how art educators construct their realities and interactions with their social worlds. Due to COVID-19, social network sampling selected five junior high art educators from local school districts. Each person participated in a 30–45-minute individual interview. Next, the focus group met to continue follow-up and check for new ideas and themes. Lastly, each person participated in a second separate interview to observe if any shifts in thinking occurred. Data was manually transcribed and then cross-checked for increased accuracy. Member checks were used to ensure correct interpretation of information gathered from interviews. Results. Results revealed that all the participants valued meaningful relationships with their students and credited them to success with projects and behavior. All participants had a goal they were working towards in their career. Collaboration was critical amongst the participants in their building, at a district level and online. Participants also strive to create worthwhile experiences for their students in the classroom based on their prior knowledge. Emergent themes included relationships, goals, collaboration, experiences, and advocacy. Conclusion. All five participants reported receiving some form of professional development regardless of its usefulness through their district. In addition, most of the participants said positive relationships with their colleagues acted as an additional layer of support. Each participant’s idea of support varied due to lived experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Their unique lens influence art education and thus spark a conversation about this population.



Art Educator, Support