No matter our age or skill level or art interest, we all appreciate really good art teachers. Those who inspire us to create more than we thought possible. So we recently posed the question: What makes an art teacher “top shelf” in your eyes? What about for your kids? Or maybe for your parents?

One of my favorite responses came from Frank Leonard, a resident artist at ClaySpace: A top-shelf art teacher is learning focused, not teaching focused.  Teaching Focused – My purpose is to communicate what I know.  Learning Focused – My purpose is to cause students to smile in delighted recognition of their effective interpretation and application of something I have shared with them, and enjoy each student’s development, whatever it may be.

John Weiss responded: “A top-shelf art teacher is someone who has an engaging personality, technical skill, enthusiasm, desire to help all students, and passion for his/her work. Being eloquent and possessing top facilities are all well and good, but the top five, bolded qualities stand out as invaluable in my mind.”

Cindy Briggs, one of our Premium teachers, commented: “A top-shelf art teacher cannot only create beautiful work, but can connect with each individual student and where they are in their learning curve, inspire and guide the student up to a higher level.”

And from Ellie Weakley, also a Premium teacher on Art Cantina: “I think a good art teacher is one that will share with you all their information, holding nothing back. They also need to be able to see your strengths and encourage you in your direction.”

Diane Edwards, who has a Master’s Degree in Education said: “A top-shelf instructor is concerned about and involved with her students. It is a fine line between giving students the information and skills they need to accomplish their art, and overwhelming them with superfluous information. The main thing is that a great art teacher is always engaged with each student to the best of their ability. IF a teacher does not care about their students and is only using teaching to pay their bills, they should be working somewhere else. Students can feel the lack of interest quickly and then lose their drive to create.”

S. Gretchen Norwalk responded: “I once read a book, Art for the Fun of It…it totally changed my direction as an art teacher. Art teachers should be teaching Creative Thinking…no other subject in school does that. Teach to think above and beyond what has been done…even if it is rough and crude.”

Would you like to share your thoughts? Please comment below.