There are lots of teaching books for art teachers out there and my advice is read as many as you can. We want our students to be life long learners and we should practice what we preach. A good teaching book should rejuvenate your passion for teaching and give you new ideas to try in the classroom. New ideas keep me excited about my job. The following are either books I’ve enjoyed reading and found relevant for the art room, or they have been recommended to me or are highly rated. The first 5 books are art-specific and the following 5 are pedagogical.
Art Teaching Books
The Art Teacher’s Survival Guide is packed with ideas for projects and classroom management tips. This review on Amazon speaks volumes: “I love this book! It is an Art Teacher’s right hand! I refer to it often when I am stuck on what to do next. Even if I do not use the actual lesson, it inspires more ideas.”
In a time when lots of art teachers feel they have to justify their subject, Why Our High School Need the Arts is a book that could strengthen your argument. We shouldn’t have to argue, but we do. This book presents research that indicates arts learning engages youth and provides them with a reason to stay in school and graduate and includes real-life examples.
Get it at Amazon.com
‘Steal Like an Artist’ is not a teaching book but certainly worth mentioning, especially if you teach courses where students have to take influence from established artists. It’s very short. Cup of coffee short, but I’d still recommend it. Austin Kleon is an artist from Austin, TX, and in ‘Steal Like An Artist’ he asserts that what good artists do—that is, “stealing” as much as possible from as many influences as possible to shape one’s own unique style—is a concept that can carry over into virtually any line of work. And while there are a number of people out there who have made the case that we are all a product of our influences, few have communicated this truth so compelling and creatively as Kleon.
Studio Thinking from the Start is one of my top choices and is aimed at middle school and elementary/primary. This book is amazingly dense with practical and useful information. From the start, this book offers veteran and novice teachers practical suggestions and information that can be implemented as a hole or in small doses throughout the year.
Engaging Learners Through Artmaking is aimed at Kindergarten through to age 13. This is a wonderful book for any art educator looking to teach art TAB – teaching for artistic behaviour. It’s packed with great visuals and ideas for getting your program up and running. A must-have addition to any art educator’s library.
Pedagogy Books that are useful for Art Teachers
As you can see, my copy of 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers is stuffed with post-it notes. If you want a huge range of ideas that you can immediately try out in the classroom, that don’t take away for teaching art, this is a great book. In fact, anything by teacher/author Ross Morrison McGill aka @TeacherToolkit is worth reading.
If you’re feeling demotivated and that teaching might not be for you, or if you just like thinking positively, Teach Like a Pirate is the book for you, no matter what age you teach. Its focus is on making lessons more engaging for students and it contains lots of starter ideas and lesson ideas. It’s full of creative, engaging tips. Top-notch.
It’s clear that there is a problem in engaging boys with art. There wouldn’t be courses running in the UK called ‘How to engage boys with art’ if this were not the case. Although not specifically an art book, ‘Boys Don’t Try? Rethinking Masculinity in Schools’ by Matt Pinkett is an inspiring read. The blurb states: “There is a significant problem in our schools: too many boys are struggling. The list of things to concern teachers is long. Disappointing academic results, a lack of interest in studying, higher exclusion rates, increasing mental health issues, sexist attitudes, an inability to express emotions…. Traditional ideas about masculinity are having a negative impact, not only on males, but females too. In this ground-breaking book, Matt Pinkett and Mark Roberts argue that schools must rethink their efforts to get boys back on track.”
‘Outstanding Teaching: Teaching Backwards’ was recommended to me by a colleague. She explained she liked it because it focusses on where we’d like our learners to be at the end of the unit of work or project rather than delivering content in a linear fashion. It can be dipped into for engaging insights and practical advice or read cover to cover.
Behaviour Management Books
Rob Plevin’s ‘Take Control of the Noisy Class’ is highly rated on Amazon both in the UK and the States. On amazon.com it’s a best-seller. You can understand why when it promises ‘super-effective classroom management strategies for teachers in today’s toughest classrooms’. Sounds ideal if this is an issue you need to address.
Please comment below if you can recommend any other teaching books for art teachers.