Thank you for your interest in the Alabama Art Education Association Mentoring Program! Whether you just started teaching or recently changed grade levels, dealing with extremely large numbers of students, managing behavior, and organizing thousands of materials can be overwhelming. We are here to helpYou are not alone! We all experience similar issues in the classroom. There is a great deal of strength to be found in seeking the wisdom of others!  

Below are answers to some questions you may have about how the program works. Also, scroll down to the bottom of the page to read a sample question/answer from participants in the mentoring program:

Q & A

Q. How do I sign up?
A. Send us an email at 

Q. Will I need to seek my principal's approval to participate in this program?
A. We highly recommend it. See below.

Q. Can I earn professional development hours?
A. You should be able to, but you will need to submit your log of hours to your principal. You should be able to request his/her approval through STI-PD.

Q. Will I be paired with someone from my area? 
A. Possibly, but we feel it is more important to connect art teachers who teach the same grade level as well as those who serve similar demographics. We want to provide the best support possible, and it just makes sense for an elementary art teacher to get help from a mentor whose expertise is in teaching elementary rather than high school. You can ask questions and communicate via email, text, Facebook, Skype, (etc.) if your mentor lives out of town.

Q. How will I know that the mentor I am assigned is truly qualified?
A. You can trust that you are in good hands! We are choosing only the most qualified and experienced art teachers for this program, and we can provide mentor resume's upon request. The participating mentors so far average about 20 years of experience teaching visual art.

Q. Will anything I discuss with my mentor be made public? I don't want my conversations on any website for my administration to find!

A. Whatever you need to talk about with your mentor is just between the two of you, completely private. You can feel free to discuss whatever is needed without fear that it will get you in trouble. Your privacy is of the utmost importance to us; we are committed to protecting it. 

Q. What will you need from me initially? 
A. In order for us to pair you with the right mentor, we will need you to take a moment to answer the following questions via email (
1. What kind of help do you primarily need? (Lesson plans, behavior management, organization, curriculum, etc.)
2. What is your background? (education, teaching experience, etc.)
3. How would you prefer to communicate with your mentor? (email, phone, Skype, etc.)
4. Where do you currently teach and which grade levels?
5. What demographic do you serve? 

Q. When will I be contacted again? 
A. Give us one to two weeks. We do have mentors waiting to be paired with mentees right now, but we need a few days to contact them and wait for a response. We communicate primarily via email. You will receive an email from us as well as your mentor so that you each have one another's contact information.  You will also receive a letter for your principal and a questionnaire to fill out at the end of the year.


1. letter of introduction for principals and supervisors

2. log of professional development hours to be submitted to principals
3. questionnaire

This website and the AAEA Mentoring Program are managed by a volunteer team of teachers who are not compensated in any way for their efforts. Our mission is to facilitate ways for art teachers to work together to help one another survive and thrive. We believe this is vital for the future of art education in Alabama (and everywhere).

For more information, please contact us at

We recently started a Facebook group, Alabama Art Teachers. We created this group because we would like to build a more collaborative, supportive community for art teachers in Alabama, especially those of us who are the only art teacher in our school/district/county. This is a great place to "talk shop" with other art teachers all over the state without leaving the house! This is a closed group, so the only people who can see what we post here are members. (The only requirement to join this group is that you teach art in Alabama.)

Sample question & answers:


"This is my 5th year teaching but my 1st year teaching middle school. I taught at a high school for 4 years. I went to a small public school with no art program so college was my 1st experience in a real art class.
I felt very confident in my teaching and classroom management when I taught high school but these middle schoolers make me question myself sometimes. I need help with classroom management and project ideas that work well with 7th and 8th graders. I hear "This is too hard" or "this is boring" a lot so I want to keep them interested and challenge them without it being too difficult that they shutdown."

Mentor advice #1:

"For myself, it has taken many years to develop a relationship with the community. I think a lot of what you are experiencing right now with the kids saying, “This is boring! This is too hard!” is a reflection of them just not being quite comfortable with the new art teacher! It sounds to me like they are testing you. 
However, it does help to mix up the projects a bit and have a short, fun project in-between the longer, more intense ones.  For example, don’t do 3 drawing projects right in a row. (Trust me, I have made this mistake more than once!) The kids love (and I mean LOVE) to do projects that are highly manipulative such as paint, clay, collage, metal tooling, weaving, printmaking, etc. Right now, my new 7th and 8th grade classes are finishing a Name Design – this requires no drawing ability and it gives them a feeling of success right off the bat. Next we will do still-life drawing – this is much more intense and they will learn a lot. After that, we will move into learning the Design Principles by doing a collage or metal foiling cardboard design. They will have a lot of fun with this one! Then they will do some painting, then they will do a perspective drawing (another intense project), then they will move into a sculpture unit where they will use clay and plaster. One final thing – make sure you are doing projects that YOU enjoy doing. The kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and if you communicate how much fun you are having they will have more fun! (Michael Linsin, author of Dream Class and, says to “SELL IT!”

Mentor advice #2:

"I absolutely agree about having shorter projects in between longer projects. My students get bored with projects that take too long, so I have to re-energize them.  Zentangle projects are great for students to work on in between projects. Anything with lots of details are good to keep students focused.  I also have an "idea box" in my classroom where students can choose an idea to draw in their sketchbook for extra credit (only if it's a complete drawing). I keep a library of drawing books near my desk that students may use anytime they have extra time. For the more serious art students, this helps develop their skills, so they see it as beneficial to them. Now for the students that flat out do not want to cooperate, I find articles, book work, or worksheets that require a good amount of reading and writing. You could have a folder or file with different color sheets, dot-to-dots, and/puzzles for students who are just still not quite satisfied with the above ideas.  I try to have a plan A, B, C, D, ect. (It's taken many years to figure out what works and doesn't. I am still learning)"

Mentor advice #3:
"Well the first couple of years will be challenging. Middle school students more than any other group can challenge you the most, but they can also be the most productive and creative minds. So what you must do is gain their respect first.  Find the students who act out the most and give them a job in the art room( such as helper to pass out materials, or take up materials).
You need the students to be responsible for their own art room and work. So tell them so. Let them know that it's not just your space but theirs too. Get to know them. Ask them 3 or 4 things outside of school that they do. This sounds petty but it works for middle school. They are very social at this age and will tell you almost anything. Once you gain their trust keep them busy at all times. Have 3 lessons ready at all times. Or have drawing books they can draw from. Find some that are interesting to them that also teach them how to draw better. Or make copies of several pages from one book and let them choose.
If you have two lessons that teach the same or similar concepts let them choose the lesson. This will make them feel they are part of the decision  making. Display their work in and around the school and let them know when someone comments on their art. Make sure to put their name on their work. They will be more willing to do better the next time. Award student of the month to each class. Give out a certificate and maybe a dollar item from target or the dollar store. Make it official by announcing the top art students on the morning announcements. I never give out artwork or materials. I have my students do that while I watch. Also I have all my students be responsible for their materials and work by either putting them up themselves or rotating each table to do so each week. Pretty soon your students will not have time to play and not listen in class.
Also, have a count of 1, 2 when they are too loud. I practice this a lot in the beginning of school. It may take several weeks to get it if all the teachers don't have a way to get the kids quite. Give them 5 then move it to 10 min. of silence. So that they can be productive. Hold them to it. Go around and put a check mark or something on their paper in pencil as a warning: 3 warnings I write a demerit ... Plus peer pressure will stop most. Good luck and let me know if none of these worked. Give these strategies 2 or more weeks before tossing them." 

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