Tag Archives: Professional Development

NAEA 17: New York City Reflections

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When I arrived in the city, it had been too long…almost 7 years….and so much had changed.  Even though I had lived in the city for many years, I had never actually stayed in Manhattan, so I was pretty psyched for that.  And, to stay in midtown…oh the excitement. I arrived at JFK, and took the airtrain to the subway to get to our hotel.  The first thing we did that day was check into the conference so I could get my badge and the bag of crap that I didn’t need or want.  I mean really, who needs a paper-thin bag full of magazines and other things that weren’t eco-friendly.  Unfortunately, I had to carry that around for the rest of the afternoon, but I digress.

imag9930.jpg    We then headed over to the MOMA.  I was a little bummed that I didn’t get a discount with my badge like I did last year in Chicago. (And if I was supposed to…. ::sad face::) But, no big deal…the MOMA was fantastic.  I hadn’t been to the museum since it was in its old location, many moons ago.  The new location is great, and so much bigger.  I am a fan of modern art, so I really enjoyed this visit.  It even sparked a discussion between my friend and fellow TABber, Hillary, about craftsmanship.  We were both noticing the same things about the paintings and sculptures of famous artists; things that made us question why we ask our students to paint/color/draw a certain way when these artists wouldn’t pass that “craftsmanship poster” that is floating around.  We are in the midst of discussion of a proposal about it for Seattle…

That evening we ate Mexican outside.  Made me long for the days I lived in the city.  I am glad we had a chance to eat outside because this would be the almost the last time we could…thanks Obama for inventing global warming.  It turned imag9974.jpgwicked cold while we were there.  This Texan implant wasn’t having it.  Anyway, that night we went to Times Square.  Man, totally not the same as I remembered.  When did it turn into a 24-hour sunlight extravaganza?!

Enough about all that touristy stuff.  I really should be writing about the conference and sessions and all that artsy stuff. Thursday morning started off as a dud.  We went to the first general session, which was the keynote speaker, Jeff Koons.  Boring.  I don’t like his work, and I find he is so boring to listen to.  He was quiet toned and just wasn’t what an estimated crowd of 7000 members needed to jump-start their conference.  We left.  If only Tim Gunn could come and speak again….

Over the next three days I went to several sessions on TAB/choice. img_20170316_173427.jpgTwo were by 2 different men, both with wicked cool mustaches.  In fact, I scribbled their mustaches in my notes.  Both men were interesting and full of information that I already knew.  I guess that is what happens as you move up the high school TAB ladder.  One thing that I did take away from Andrew McKee’s (red mustache) presentation was the “style book”.  It’s basically a place to save ideas, get ideas of what they like, are into, etc.  So the students can pull from that when they create their work.  I mean I have my Pinterest page that I refer to often when I create my work, but I don’t “require” my students to do that.  I think it might be helpful to incorporate something like this in my art 2 classes next year…and also maybe my ceramics classes.

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I went to a very interesting Raku session, which of course now has me wanting to write a grant for a raku kiln.  Thursday afternoon I went to an MCAD session on drawing as thinking.  We basically spent the 50 minute session doing a bunch of drawing warm-ups. It was a nice break, and it left me with some great exercises to bring into my classes next year as we move into block schedule.

The rest of my session were, like I stated above, choice/TAB sessions.  While the sessions were fabulous, (I’m looking at you Cynthia Gaub, Joy Schulz, and Melissa Purtee), I felt a little empty.  And, it’s nothing against my colleagues.  I am just looking for something more…something more than what I already know and am 100% agreement with.  I am looking for more than an intro to what TAB/choice is. I want something for those of us who have been doing it a while.  I hope that makes sense.  I did have an “a-ha moment” during Joy’s session.  For years, I thought Joy had this magical way of pulling greatness from her students.  After sitting through her session, I get it now.  She is so organized and her analytical side really affects how she works with her students.

The final session I want to talk about was a super-session.  It starred Katherine Douglas, Anne Thulson, Sharif Bey, and Olivia Gude.  It was amazing.  These four leaders really hit it out of the park.

These were my lasting thoughts from the session:

~Do we intervene: how, where, when, why, how much (OG)
~concept=something we use; not something to possess (OG)
~2 sentence curriculum: what do artists do? the child is the artist (KD)
~art supplies are materials; concepts are materials (can’t remember if this was OG, I think so)
~How do we keep students in that magical place as they get older? (OG)
~we have the capacity to exist in many art worlds (OG) [personally for me, this meant a lot]
~Sometimes LESS can be liberating (OG)
~We’re getting lost….ON PURPOSE (OG)

I know it seems that Olivia gave me much to think about, but Kathy always gives me much to think about…I wouldn’t be here without her.  Anne gave an activity to try for next year when we talk about “artists observe”.  It will get my students out of my classroom and really looking at the small, mundane details around them.  And Sharif…oh Sharif….we are kindred souls and I think we should totally hang out.

imag9999.jpgWhile I enjoyed the sessions I went to, I did think the selection, for me anyway, was limited.  I don’t understand how imag9987_1.jpgsessions are selected.  I don’t understand how they choose to schedule which ones and when.  I also don’t understand why so few TAB/choice sessions are offered, when clearly, year after year, the sessions offered are packed–which was another downside to conference in NYC…small rooms…or at least those rooms that held popular topics were small.  And, rooms that held research sessions (no offense to research) were in these huge rooms with few attendees.  And when I say TAB sessions were packed, I mean, way over room/safety capacity, on the floor seating, out the door, room temp went up 15 degrees packed.  NAEA needs to work on this.  It is just ridiculous.  I pay a lot of money, out-of-pocket, to attend the national conference.  I want to get my money’s worth.

imag0028.jpgMy favorite part of the conference is always the part where I get to see and hang out with my TAB/Choice mentors, colleagues, and friends.  I even got to meet some new friends whom I have only seen on the interwebs.  I want to thank Kathy and Diane for setting up the amazing dinner we had Friday night.  And, thanks Diane for making me not sit with Hillary and Liz.  It was fabulous to get to chat with Melissa, Joy,Cynthia, and Anne for a while.  Spending time with those that get it, and get me, is always a good time.

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I hope to make it to Seattle next year.  Cynthia promises it will be a fabulous time.  So, hopefully, at least one of the sessions I propose or co-propose will be accepted.  And, maybe someone will help me write a grant and/or convince my school to pay for it…I just can’t afford another year.

NAEA 2016: Chi-Town (part 2: the sessions)

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imag5687_1.jpgWhat is the most important part of going to a National Art Ed Conference? If judging by my first post, Chi-Town (part 1: the intro), you would think it was hanging out with friends.  And you would be right.  But, just a small percentage point behind that is the sessions.  I mean, I did pay to go to some relevant professional development so I can become an even better, more awesome teacher. I don’t want to go too awesome though, I don’t think my students could handle that.  😉

imag5601.jpgSince I am somewhat old school, I wasted a whole bunch of trees and printed out a copy of the sessions.  Yes, I know that I would get a program once in Chicago, but that’s not very helpful to a planner like me.  (Don’t be too mad, I did print them double-sided.)  I sat down in my kitchen with my coffee, my stack of papers, my yellow marker, and my phone.  As I read thru the sessions, I circled the ones that were interesting to me.  Then I would fire up the conference app on my phone and add them to my agenda.  Is this a little more work, maybe, but who wants to carry a quarter ream of paper around the McCormick? Not me.

It wasn’t an easy thing to do.  In case you didn’t know, I teach all TABbish and my interest is finding better ways to run my TAB classroom so it is more meaningful for my students. However, there are a couple of problems that I come across at art ed conferences.  I teach high school, and it seems the majority of sessions (especially TAB/choice) are aimed at elementary. Also, out of the TAB/Choice sessions, many are geared towards getting people interested in TAB/Choice.  I am already interested, I don’t need to go to those.  So, while I did attend one or two of those sessions (my fav being “Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Way”, presented by Julie Toole, Nan Hathaway, and Ian Sands),imag5836_1.jpgI opted against most because I would rather give up my seat to someone who needs to learn about TAB/choice and their awesomeness.  And, I am glad I did because those sessions were packed.  I mean, standing room only, out the door packed.  This makes my heart happy, by the way.  IMAG3327_1

So, powers that be at NAEA who deal with choosing sessions for NYC, we need more sessions on TAB…at all levels and areas of interest (getting to know vs. already am in love with) of TAB.  Obviously it is a hot topic and people want to know.  I, personally, am willing to present a session or two or three about TAB at the secondary level.  I know some others too who would be as well.  Hell, we would even do some joint presenting.  Just sayin’….

Over the course of the 3 days, I attended 15 sessions.  One was not all that, and only 1 did I walked out.  I lucked out and found 13 good/great sessions.  Don’t worry, I won’t go over each session, but I will give you some highlights.

10612715_10107362239544810_1343979125320880173_nI started off the conference with a great session called “Break theimag5692_1.jpg
Wheel”, presented by Chris Wills.  His session was about brainstorming and ways to help students get over the creative block.  It really got me fired up to go.  He had us do a small version of his activity called “60“.  I really enjoyed the activity.
I enjoyed it so much that I brought it back to my classroom and used it already.  At first my kids were all, “what the…”, but after completing the activity, which we only did for 20 minutes, they were glad we did and I think they have some ideas to work from for the next artworks.
After that I was pumped and went to a couple of more sessions that day.  One was a look at the way the AP portfolio was “graded”.  While I don’t teach AP, I was able to take some things away from this.  The presenter talked about looking into the creative process and being able to imag5699_1.jpgcapture the day to day…which is something I am working on in my classroom.  There is so much more to artwork than just the final product, and wouldn’t it be great to allow our students to showcase the process instead of just the end of it?

Rounding out the day was a presentation by Jeff Pridie that made me think about what my program goals were and why my program should be there.  And a session by the Journal Fodder Junkies.  I had seen them before in NOLA and was excited to see them again.  Every year they encourage me to have my students develop visual journals.  Maybe next year will be the year I incorporate them.

Friday started off big as well.  “Art Without Authority” was standing room only.  Presenter Justin Crumpner is an art teacher from Dallas, and he feels the same way about our state VASE competition as I do…so right then I knew I liked this guy.  The more he talked, the more I realized that he believed in the TAB philosophy, but just didn’t know there were others out there like him.  In the middle of the session I texted Liz asking why he was not part of our tribe.  He talked about his realization of moving to student-centeredness when he had an AP student that wouldn’t finish her work.  But, when he saw her sketchbook that was filled with fabulousness and asked her why she wasn’t doing that in class, she replied, “I didn’t think I could do this.  I didn’t think this was “school art”.”  WOW!   Seriously, talk about a way to start reflecting on your teaching practice.  Anyway, he said some things during his presentation that were right on:  “Your (students) work is VALID”; “their voice (student) = your voice (teacher)”; and “create a climate; don’t create winners and losers”. Of course I paraphrased that last one, but still… If you missed his presentation, you can still see it.  He posted it on his blog.  As a final note, we (Liz, Hillary and I) did run into him later on in the conference, we talked over a beer, and he ended up coming to our TAB meet-up.  He has since joined our tribe on the Midwest TAB teachers page.  I look forward to meeting up with him again next year in Fort Worth/Dallas at the TAEA 2016 conference.

I know I am getting long winded and I still have more to say, so bear with me.  I attended Joy Schultz‘ presentation where she talked about choice and her students use of Blendspace.  She had the presenter’s nightmare where the technology was non-existent. But, being the rockstar she is, went on like it was no big deal.  Again, standing room only.

I attended a session on authentic assessment in a choice classroom presented by 2 elementary teachers.  While it was interesting, and it gave rise to a sudden interest in a badge system, it wasn’t anything really new to me.  I am not sure I will use a badge system, but it is something worth looking at–extrinsic versus intrinsic rewards.

Ian dragged us to a session called “New Weird Ideas”.  There were four presenters and they each talked about how they set the tone for the beginning of the year.  And of course, they said the same thing that I kept hearing over and over through out the conference…”Focus on the process and how to make the process meaningful.”  It is at this point I should mention that they presenters were giving away free e-zines and Ian drafted Andy to go get us some…you would think that a 6′-4″, lean guy would be able to leap his way up to the front and procure some, but noooooooo….smh.  No e-zines for us.

Saturday was the last day of sessions.  We got there in time to see “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way” where Nan dropped this gem, “If there were no grades in art, how would that affect your work?”  Just let that sink in.  Yeah.  Exactly.

I didn’t really have any sessions lined up for the day, so luckily, I was with Ian who did. We went to a session about Shepard Fairey.  There is a lot more to him than I thought there was.  I left with the idea of “post-museum art“, which is art of the people; it’s an interesting concept.  Ian and I also went to a session on maker spaces.  I am now considering trying to get a 3-D printer, some paper circuits, and conductive ink.  For more info on maker spaces, check out the Makelab.

Our final stop of the day was one that Ian and I are very interested in.  It was titled “Stop Grading Art!”  It started off great with ideas like we should moved from being art focused (fixed mindset) to learning focused (growth mindset), and questions like what is the purpose of grading, what are my standards, and what are my learning objectives/goals? Next he talked about looking for evidence of learning.  It was here that it became frustrating and where I wanted to just start arguing with the presenter. He wasn’t talking about getting rid of grading (which is what we had hoped the session was about), and he was basically using assessment and grading as interchangeable terms, which of course they are not.  There was nothing new learned from this, and it seemed that he was pushing grading in art as we know it now, but with a different language.  His example was very simple, and didn’t really seem to assess any learning.  He said the learning objective (from either the state or national standards) was to provide multiple solutions to a problem.  And the evidence of learning was based on how many thumbnails a student created.  There was a cute rubric that went with it too.  How is that really assessing the learning?  That is just grading on how well a student jumped through a hoop.   And, that is what I am trying to get away from.  I walked out of the session frustrated, but with lots to think about; so #winning?  I got stuck on what my learning objectives really are and how to see the evidence of that learning.  So, while I walked out with a new conversation in my head, I’m not sure I needed a session to get me there…I have already been on that path.  Maybe I will figure something out and present on this topic next year in NYC.

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This post shows just a snippet into some of the notes I took.  If you could see my imag5715_1.jpgnotebook, your head would be swimming too.  I took a lot away from this conference–things I want to bring to my program, things to stay away from, ways to enhance the process more and to bring the kids to “buy in” sooner.  Overall, the sessions I went to and the buzz I heard about other “popular” sessions made me realize that I am on the right path in my teaching philosophy.  I look forward to hopefully presenting next year at both the TAEA [Texas] conference and the NAEA17 conference.  ::hint, hint::  I promise my sessions won’t disappoint.

NAEA 2016: Chi-Town (part 1: the intro)

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I have been trying to decompress for about 5 days now, and I think I am about ready to write down the experience I had at this year’s NAEA 2016 Conference in Chicago.  I spent 4 days of my spring break in Chi-Town, reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and of course, learning about my chosen profession.

This year’s experience can not compare to last year’s in NOLA.  It wasn’t better; it wasn’t worse; it was different.  First of all, let’s talk Chi-Town.  It was cold.  It wasn’t Canada cold, but I did have to pack for 40 degree weather.  Not fun.  I did however pack a fun hat!

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Chicago is a much bigger city than New Orleans.  It is more spread out, which made visiting the city a bit harder.  So, in that respect, I didn’t get to experience that Chicago flavor the way I did in New Orleans.  And, speaking of being spread out, the convention center in Chicago is ‘Uge…H-U-G-E!  It has 4 levels, and 2 sides.  So, sometimes getting from one session to the next was a race.  Add into the mix about a thousand C2E2 goers…and it was game on.  (Pun intended.)  They did provide some nice cosplay costumes to look at though.

One of the best parts of the trip, besides what I learned, which I will talk about in my NAEA 2016: Chi-Town (part 2: the sessions) post, was getting to see my friends. My tribe.  It has been a long 8 months since I last saw my people in Boston.  I got to hang out with my favorite TABbers…Liz, Andy, Hillary, and of course, Ian.  I also got to see some of my friends/mentors…Julie, Diane, Clyde, and Nan.

We spent 3 days catching up, talking TAB, making new memories, learning new things, walking all over the McCormick, and creating our newest hashtag #artteachersinbars.  The first night, Andy and I found this fabulous dive bar near where we were staying.  He told me I had to bring my sketchbook, which I reluctantly did.  And of course, it was all down hill from there. Every night we went out and wound up at a bar, the sketchbooks came out. We even got Clyde in the game.

On Friday night, the TAB powers that be set up a dinner get together for us.  Our gracious hosts provided some yummy pizza and procured an room for us to gather and be merry in. In pure Jean fashion, I went around and got selfies “with” everyone.  It was a fabulous time had by all.

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I was also lucky enough to visit the Art Institute of Chicago one evening.  So glad that my registration at the conference allowed me to experience the museum free of charge.  I saw some amazing pieces.  I thought the museum should be it’s own post because I have a ton of pictures, and well, this post is starting to get a little lengthy.

Iimag5851.jpg was sad when I had to say good-bye to two of my clan on Saturday afternoon, but luckily Ian was there to drag me around to sessions I hadn’t even considered…and it turned out to be a good thing.  And, I made a new friend, Kay.  It turned out we had a lot more in common than just being art teachers who TAB.  When Sunday rolled around, it was time to take the long blue line train ride back to O’Hare.  My head was spinning, so I just sat and looked out as the city turned into the suburbs and finally into an airport.

I am still trying to reflect on what I took away from the many sessions I attended, so give me a couple of more days before I get to that.

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Peace Out Chi-Town! Until next year in NYC!!!

Thanks Chicago for a fabulous work-cation. Thanks NAEA for a great conference, let’s do it again next year in NYC…although I do have a few suggestions for an even better experience. 😉

I need more than the PD I am getting.

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While I was driving home, my mind began to go over my day in my classroom, just like it always does.  Every day.  On the long drive home down Hwy 79.  Today I was thinking about what I was doing…or rather not doing.  My students have very successful ideas and many interpret the themes thrown at them in out of the box ways.  They make me very proud in that area.

The area of concern for me is the realization out of those ideas.  What questions am I not asking? What activities can I be doing to help my students in this area?  What are other TAB teachers doing to help provide their students the resources or help to flush out their ideas?  And how can I implement that in my classes?  How can I push my kids to develop the skills to bring their fabulous ideas to the next artistic level?

Let me be honest here…I am a little jealous of those TAB/Choice teachers that are able to help develop and “pull” both the great ideas and skills from their students.  This is a goal of mine.

So, where is this post going?  Well, I was thinking I need some kind of PD on how to achieve this in my classroom.  How do other teachers run their classes?  What types of activities do they do?  But, I need more than just Twitter chats and Facebook groups.  Don’t get me wrong, those are fabulous resources, but I need more.  I need more than the 10-15 minute presentation from AOE conferences.  I want more than the 30 minute presentation from my state conferences.  I want more than the ones I can get at national conferences.

The best PD I have ever went to was the 2015 TAB Summer Institute.  Why? Because I not only got to be face to face with like minded people looking to learn what I wanted to learn, but because I got to have in depth conversations about topics that were important to me.  I need to discuss and ask questions in the moment to help with deep understanding. I also need to see a person.  They body language and facial expressions helps me to learn.

My question is, how can I get the professional development I want from the teachers who know what it is I want to know?  How do I make that happen?  How can we, my PLN, make that happen?  I know we all can’t afford to fly to one place to do this…otherwise we would all be going to Boston this summer.  And, I know I am not alone in feeling this way.  I can’t be.  But, there has to be a way.  Someone please help me figure this out!!

My week at the TAB Institute in Boston, 2015.

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On July 12, I woke up at 4 am to get things ready to board my flight to Boston, MA so I could attend the 2015 TAB Institute.  I would be in Boston for 6 days–living, breathing TAB (Teach FOR Artistic Behavior), surrounded by others who felt the same as me.  It was a week-long intensive look into the world of TAB–what TAB is, how TAB came to be, how to implement, how to assess, how to advocate, I could go on.

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Our “Treehouse” home for the week

Treehouse at night

Treehouse at night

By Monday night, I knew I had found my tribe.  We all knew it.  It was the most amazing thing to me to be surrounded by others who just got it; who just felt the same way I did.  I had talked to some on the interwebs, but to meet them and talk face to face…it was a whole other thing.  A better thing.

I got to meet several of my mentors.  In particular, Kathy Douglas and I finally got to meet face to face.  And, if it wasn’t for her suggestion of me going to Boston this summer, I probably wouldn’t have made it.  So, thank you Kathy for the suggestion.  I also got to meet Ian Sands.  Granted we met briefly in New Orleans, but this week in Boston, I really got to meet Ian.  Ian (and his colleague Melissa Purtee) have had major influence on me and my switch to TAB.  I am so grateful to have stumbled upon them.  So, for me to converse with Ian and work through things TAB related, and to become (dare I say it) friends with him, is a big deal to me.

Kathy, Diane, Clyde, Julie, and Ian

Kathy, Diane, Clyde, Julie, and Ian

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Our other faculty members included Julie Toole.  She is so much fun and if you want to know how to advocate for your TAB program, she is the woman to go to.  Clyde Gaw was there.  His Facebook profile picture makes him out to be this scary guy. He is the complete opposite of this.  He is fun and a big child and has this amazing way of connecting his vast knowledge with what/how artists act and the choices they make.  Lastly, the woman that made it all come together, Diane Jacquith was a wealth of knowledge.  The week ran so smoothly and she had set up an amazing group of mentors, guests (including George Szekely and his daughter, Ilona) and wonderful places to visit, like the Museum of Fine Arts and Fenway Studios.

George Szekely talked to us about play

George Szekely talked to us about play

Fenway Studios

Fenway Studios

Studio of Mae Chevrette

Studio of Mae Chevrette

Studio of Ed Stitt

Studio of Ed Stitt

Studio of Peter Scott

Studio of Peter Scott

I can’t leave out the people who I came to love while I was there.  While I clicked with everyone, I want to give a shout out to my crew that just made the trip over the top—Liz (Leg Day), Andy (Canadia), and Hillary (iPad).  Thanks guys.  You accepted me for who I was and celebrated it.  I am normally a shy person around new people, but you guys made me feel at home.

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Enough with the mush.

Breaking into two groups, we met in tracks first.  Track 1 was for those completely new to TAB.  Track 2 was for those that had practiced TAB for at least a year.  This is where I was.  We also met as grade levels–elementary, middle school, and high school.  My HS group was made up of 4 of us, Liz, Meta, Kathy, and myself.  Of course, Ian was our guide.  This was most helpful to me.  The conversations were lively and honest.  We talked about assessment and grading and how we set up an open studio without centers.  Sometimes we didn’t even notice how long they went on.

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Ilona Szekely

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Tasks from our Task Party

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I have come to point in this blog post where I just don’t know what to say.  I have been trying to decompress it all once the haze of the TAB utopia wore off.  I have been trying to figure out how to sum it all up and write about it for over a week now. And, honestly, I just can’t.  So, instead I will end the post with some pictures of this amazing PD.

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