Here is my Top Ten List of favorite experiences at the 2017 convention, in no particular order. Share yours with me in the comments below.
1: The Commute! Okay, commuting isn't the greatest. But commuting for a few days to go out and have new experiences is a lovely change of pace. There is a great big world out there, and getting out of the day to day is a welcome change. I commuted with a colleague one morning, and a couple of times with my husband, who has been commuting to work for years now day in and day out. It gave me a renewed appreciation for all he does. Thank you Matt! By the way, can you tell that I love the Prisma app?
|The morning commute with my husband Matt.|
2: New Ideas! One of the workshops I attended was all about the Post Modern Elements of Art, and how to incorporate them into lessons along with Color, Shape, Line and so on. Ever try an Elements of Art sandwich?
|Thanks Rahama Junaid, Karolina Maroulis, and Meghan Cerrone for a great lecture!|
3: The Energy! There is something about being the one lonely art teacher at a school, or the handful in a district, and getting the opportunity to meet up with thousands of them in a great city, with activities, learning, exhibits, and incredibly knowledgeable speakers. For all of the times we feel shuffled around, or out of place in professional development that is great for a school system overall, but not so much for an art educator, this is the place to be! It is downright revitalizing!
|Waiting for prizes at the art supply raffle. So many winners!|
|Crowds waiting to see a workshop/lecture.|
4: The Sense of Community! Ever hang out with a few thousand art teachers? It is wonderful. Well, okay, it was crowded! But amidst the crowds and on-again off-again chaos, I had so many lovely conversations with teachers from all over the country who shared their love of education, the arts, and the stories of how they traveled to take part in this year's convention. All of my encounters were open and kind. That is worthy of a mention on a top ten list!
5: Art Teacher Celebrities! We are a small niche in the education world, and even smaller in the the world at large, but we have our celebrities don't we? I had a wonderful time attending workshops by Laura Lohmann of Painted Paper Art and Cassie Stephens, and got to say hi! Can I just say, that these two ladies were so gracious and kind. I volunteered quite a few times to act as photographer for attendees who just had to have a picture of themselves getting to meet Cassie and Laura, and each time they said yes to requests, were kind and gave a big old smile. On the second day I asked Cassie how she was holding up, and she mentioned that her cheeks were hurting, and I said, "That's a good problem to have!" I actually didn't ask for picture myself until the last day. Thanks ladies! You were an amazing part of this year's convention.
6: Sharing Great Art Lessons! There were many hands-on workshops and lectures about best practices, pedagogy, and the like, but frankly my favorites are where fellow teachers share their art lessons. And as much as I like the access to each other online, being in a room face-to-face, having a back and forth, and getting a sense of each teacher's style and personality is simply wonderful.
One of my favorite presentations was Change it Up: 30 Art Lessons in 50 Minutes. Julia and Evangeline conveyed a great sense of their experience, an upbeat attitude, and had an awesome rapport with the attendees and each other. And I took away inspiration to try something new, tweak things I currently teach, and to revisit some lessons that have been left to the wayside.
|Thanks Julia Healy and Evangeline Christodoulou for your energy!|
|Thanks Phyl Brown for your Tootpaste Batik Workshop.|
My absolute favorite was Fabulous, Fun Folk Art, which was facilitated by Laura Lohmann, Cassie Stephens, Ginger Pacer at Paintbrush Rocket, and Jennifer Alvarado. For the elementary level educators out there, go find info about this presentation. I'm pretty sure each of these women have shared on their blogs etc. all about it!
7: Art Supplies! It is always fun to see the vendors in the Exhibitor's Hall. I worked in art supply retail through my college years (when there were still mom and pop stores), and have always loved trying new products and chatting up sales reps. They are so generous with their time, and usually have samples, sales and 'make and take' experiences to share with all of us. I appreciate them all! Two of my favorites this year were Jack Richeson and Sakura.
|Trying out various tempera paints.|
|Making a masterpiece with oil pastels.|
8: Exhibits! There were many unexpected exhibits and displays on view as I walked around to visit the exhibitors hall, workshops and lectures.The Paper, but not Paper exhibit by YMM Art Space Students was incredible to see.
I also saw a collection of giant pages from the book Color New York: 20 Views to Color in by Hand by Emma Kelly, complete with materials to spend a few minutes helping to color them in. So much fun!
9: The Sights! Even growing up as someone who has lived and worked in and around New York City, it is s a fabulous place to visit. This year's convention was down the street from The Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and more. Including an experience in the host city is a must, or at least go out and take a walk! Here are some pictures snapped during my walks up from Penn Station:
10: Reflection... Train rides home each night gave me to time to quiet my mind, and reflect on the experiences of the day. Some of the NJ commute is less than idyllic, but having that quiet time is necessary after a day of so much input and stimulation.
If you can't swing a trip to a National convention, be a part of your state association. Form a group with your colleagues in your county or district. Maybe you've found one amazing colleague that supports you and shares with you. Stick with them and give them a thank you! And if you move far enough along in confidence and experience, pass that support onto others.
And don't forget the power of teachers who blog, and share on social media! I know that blogs are more effort to seek out, read, write, and keep up, but I still feel that they are a great resource and community, so thanks for stopping in when you do! The pace of technology is amazing.
Next year's NAEA is in Seattle and will be hard for me to swing, but 2019 is in Boston, so I hope to see you there!