6 Important Pieces of Advice for Entering a New Teaching Position – The Art of Ed

While summer vacation brings relaxation for many art teachers, for others, it brings dread. Interviewing, getting a new room ready, and thinking about meeting a whole new set of coworkers and students is enough to make any art teacher want to hide in a corner.

I recently spoke with Killian Williams-Morantine, an art educator from rural Louisiana, about this very topic. So many art teachers will be in new environments this fall, and I wanted to share some of Killian’s sage advice.

I first met Killian at the 2015 NAEA Convention and was struck by his story of entering a tricky teaching position and winning over the staff and students. I thought, “Wait, isn’t this every art teacher’s issue at one time or another?”

Whether you’re entering your very first teaching position, switching schools, or switching districts, there’s advice here for you.

Meet Killian
Killian Williams

Killian came to his current position from a fast-paced, ever-changing background and the big city of Lafayette and landed in the middle of rural Louisiana. Namely, he landed in West Feliciana Parish, an area of Louisiana that’s known for plantations and Civil War sites. The entire region has 15,500 people and is serviced by one school district. It is here that Killian comprises the entire high school art department. Talk about culture shock!

Killian had some work to do when he arrived as the students didn’t know what to make of the “city guy” standing before them. Through hard work, persistence and an infectious drive to win people over, Killian now runs an incredibly successful art department. Here’s what he had to say.


1. Remember why you became a teacher in the first place.

Although many college students try out a few different majors, Killian’s journey to becoming an art teacher is on a whole other level. Holding every job imaginable from jailer to database programmer, waiter to cultural correspondent in Nigeria, Killian finally landed at art teacher, and things felt right. Killian says, “The main factor in what led me to becoming a teacher was my desire to help others. Teaching is a vocation and a service. Teaching is good for me, for my character, and I really feel I am in the right place.” So, even if everything goes wrong on your first day or in your first week, keep your eye on the prize. Remind yourself why you chose to become an art teacher in the first place.

2. Know that it’s normal to feel nervous.

I asked Killian, member of the U.S. Army National Guard, how he felt going into a new teaching environment on the first day. His response? “Nervous! Terrified! I was sweating through a suit jacket.” And, what did he say he was most nervous about? The kids! He likened it to starting high school for the first time and being the “new kid.” Anyone who has entered a new teaching position can relate to this feeling. Know if you’re feeling apprehensive too, you’re not alone.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

When I started teaching, this was the most difficult piece of advice for me to take. I thought that asking a question would make me look silly or uninformed. Looking back, it was foolish to think that I would know how to use the copy machine or know where the extra thumbtacks were kept without asking. I was an art teacher, not a psychic! As Killian points out, “Your workplace has a culture all it’s own.” Seek out one or two helpful people you feel you can trust and ask away.

4. Make sure to develop a support system for yourself.

Although Killian is married to another art teacher (cool, right!?) he says, as an art teacher, you are often “flying solo.” It’s unlikely that you’ll have another art teacher in your building, especially at the elementary or middle school level. So, what to do? Killian has this advice, “Focus on developing a connection with other faculty, but more importantly, make connections with parents and the community.” During your first year, find a few extras to attend where you can mingle with these groups. You don’t want to burn yourself out doing too much, but you do want to start building relationships with the people that will support your program. Try chaperoning a school dance, attending a school board meeting, or helping to design the homecoming float.

5. Be prepared for an adjustment period with the students.

Like Killian, when I started at my second school, the kids were not too happy about it. The previous teacher had been a lot more lax with classroom management, and I was getting a lot of pushback. Every day I heard, “But Mr. so-and-so always let us do_____!” I chuckled when Killian told me, “I remember once telling a group of rowdy students, ‘This is it. I’m it.’” I could so relate! However, if this happens to you, it’s important to realize that you’ll have different strengths than someone else, and that’s ok! Within a few weeks, my students were happy to go along with the new routines and started saying things like, “Mrs. Heyn, I like how it’s so organized in here. I can always find my art!”

6. Think carefully about how you present yourself to the staff and students.

Appearance can go a long way in helping kids see you as the professional you are. Killian took to wearing simple, serious, skinny neckties that fit his personal style. Kids took notice. “Mr. Williams-Morantine, only you and the principals wear ties. What’s up with that!?” they asked. Think about how to convey your personal style in a professional way.

In addition to all of these suggestions, Killian also advises you to take some time tomake art. It’s therapeutic to lose yourself in a piece or a project after a trying day. Finally, Killian has this to say, “When it comes to your classroom and program, think outside the box. Your class is going to be called the “fun” class. Make sure it lives up to this name, but also ensure learning is happening. It is important to create a safe place for all your students.”

Thank you so much, Killian, for sharing your story and advice with us!

Source: 6 Important Pieces of Advice for Entering a New Teaching Position – The Art of Ed

LSMSA | Louisiana artist displays work in art gallery

Louisiana artist Killian Williams-Morantine will present “Sequential” now through Thursday, March 1, in the art gallery located in the Center for Performance and Technology on the campus of LSMSA.

“My recent body of work situates human and anthropomorphic figures as characters in a personal mythos, a personal framework for addressing current issues faced by society,” said Williams-Morantine. “With the use of traditional mythology as a foundation, I see the new work as a kind of new mythology – new stories, commenting on current issues.

“I search for meaning – immanent and transcendent – and attempt to tap into our need to make sense of appearances and our thirst for something beyond.”

Williams-Morantine earned a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in printmaking as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Born in Texas and raised in Louisiana, the artist incorporates knowledge and experience from employment in the military, the oil and gas industry and information technologies as part of his pedagogy.

He managed his own gallery and lived as a working artist and curator for several years. His work has been exhibited in 30-plus galleries throughout Louisiana. His first works – original woodblock prints – have become highly collectible and can be found in prestigious collections such as the George Rodrigue private collection, the Library of Congress African American Arts Collection and the Paul and Lulu Hilliard private collections.

In 2017, Williams-Morantine was named the Louisiana Art Educator of the Year for the southeastern region by the Louisiana Art Education Association. He currently serves as department chair of cultural enrichment at Hahnville High School and was recently nominated for Teacher of the Year. He currently is working on a new graphic novel, “Orgon61” and manages a small creative startup company called Hare House Press with his wife, Kelly.

A closing reception will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2, in the art gallery.

The art gallery is open from 12 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, contact Chris King at cking@lsmsa.edu.

Source: LSMSA | Louisiana artist displays work in art gallery

The science of art: West Feliciana High students explore another perspective of the trade | West Feliciana | theadvocate.com

West Feliciana High School’s digital, visual and talented art students experienced both art and science during a recent visit to the New Orleans Glass Works & Printmaking Studio, a circa-1800s brick restored building measuring over 25,000 square feet on Magazine Street.

The April 11 trip to the studio, a hot spot for artisans to gather, teach and practice their crafts through private demonstrations and workshops, offered the students a different view on various art forms.

They were treated to STEAM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) demonstrations on glass blowing, while learning the science of glass and the physics behind the art form.

Several artists explained the components of some of the short courses and workshops held at the studio, such as on glassblowing, metal sculpture, printmaking, glass flameworking, copper enameling, stained glassmaking, mosaics and digital animation.

One of the artists, while crafting a hand-blown glass art piece, made fresh popcorn for the students inside the glass sculpture.

Printmaker Jessika Normington guided the teens through the process of using oil pigments and water based starches to create art.

“I wanted our students to experience the other side of art. A lot of times art is seen as a painting on the wall, but this studio visit provided valuable experiences in the processes of some various art forms as well as the end product,” teacher Killian Williams-Morantine said, when explaining why he chose to take the students to the New Orleans studio rather than to a museum or gallery.

The youth got to watch a conductivity experiment using liquid glass, the making of glass threads, also known as fiber optic roving, and learned about the process of paper marbling during their trip.

Source: The science of art: West Feliciana High students explore another perspective of the trade | West Feliciana | theadvocate.com

YOUTH ART MONTH 2018: Building Community Through Art – Louisiana Art Education Association

Youth Art Month is the primary advocacy tool for art education. It is the national celebration of student art and art education. It gives art educators a venue for sharing the quality art programs to their communities. Youth Art Month invites community members to endorse and proclaim the importance of art education in our schools.

Art educators are encouraged to exhibit student artwork in their communities, participate in LAEA’s YOUTH ART MONTH FLAG DESIGN CONTEST and visit their legislators at Artists in the Capitol Day.


Document your YAM activities throughout the year via the YOUTH ART TRACKING SHEET and submit online at the end of this school year through the YOUTH ART MONTH REPORT link, found on the Forms and Documents page of this website, starting in mid-May.


Download the 2018 YOUTH ART MONTH FLAG CONTEST GUIDELINES and follow the directions on the YOUTH ART MONTH FLAG CONTEST ENTRY FORM to have your school or class become part of something great!


For more detailed information, read the YOUTH ART MONTH PROGRAM HANDBOOK.

HS- 1st Place Anna 10th grade School: West Feliciana High School Teachers: Kelly Williams-Morantine & Killian Williams-Morantine

Previous Winners…High SchoolHS- 1st Place Anna 10th grade School: West Feliciana High School Teachers: Kelly Williams-Morantine & Killian Williams-Morantine

Source: YOUTH ART MONTH 2018: Building Community Through Art – Louisiana Art Education Association


Arron White, an art student at West Feliciana High School skilled in portrait work and illustration, created a piece of art for a Wilkinson County School Distrct teacher and his students at Wilkinson County Elementary School in Woodville, Miss. The art work, when finished, measured 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost has provided inspiration and motivation for Wilkinson County School District teacher Robert Ward for years.

An educator for more than 43 years, Ward works as the lead teacher at Wilkinson County Elementary School and previously taught at West Feliciana High School, where he spent 32 years in the West Feliciana school system.

Ward sought help recently in creating a piece of artwork that would inspire his young students in Woodville, Mississippi, as well as motivate them to make good decisions in life.

West Feliciana High School’s Arron White, an art student skilled in portrait work and illustration, stepped up to help make Ward’s ideas a reality by creating a visual interpretation of Frost’s poem.

“Arron focused on creating a something younger students can relate to visually, and hopefully, see the importance of making healthy decisions,” West Feliciana digital arts media teacher Killian Williams-Morantine said.

The work needed to be large, colorful and iconic for the Wilkinson County youth, so Arron first drafted the piece by hand followed by using new techniques he learned in the digital arts class.

“He enhanced what he created traditionally and sent the work to a professional printer where it was made larger than life at an amazing 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide,” Williams-Morantine said. “He delivered a stunning piece of artwork for his client.”

Both Ward and Wilkinson County Elementary Principal Regina McCoy said they are pleased with Arron’s work.

“I enjoyed creating this piece and look forward to doing more commissions, especially portraits,” Arron said. “I hope to bring a colorful mural to the walls of West Feliciana High before I graduate.”