NAEA: Reflections

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the National Art Education Association’s National Convention in New York City.  Amazing would be an understatement of my experience.  I struggle to find the words to describe it, but I will try.

Along with over 7,000 other arts educators (this includes EC-12, higher education, and museum education), I soaked up the learning, the contacts, and of course, the sites.  I had the opportunity to hear from professional artists and educators from all over the globe – 34 countries were represented at this conference.

This was my first time, and I love that I could curate my own learning experience.  Some of the areas I focused on were Teaching for Artistic Behavior (choice-based arts education), Studio Habits of Mind, instructional/educational technology, GSuite for Education, gamification, and virtual reality.  It was also wonderful to expand my own PLN (personal learning network) and learn from some of the top educators in the field.

Some highlights:

One of the amazing things I happened upon when walking through three (THREE!) levels of the exhibit halls was Doodlematic.  This app turns your physical drawings (and that of your students) into digital games.

I was excited to learn from many fabulous educators, one who discussed meaningful, practical ways that she has blended her art room – and three others who have integrated virtual reality into their art rooms as a means of exploring the world, creating empathy, having students create virtual gallery spaces to globally communicate, and create their own multimedia art spaces by designing their own augmented realities.  I felt empowered and encouraged (who doesn’t need that?) after hearing from Cassie Stephens, Anne Bedrick, Jessica Balsley, and David C. Driskell (among many others):

“A rising tide lifts all boats.” – New England Chamber of Commerce

I thoroughly enjoy professional development because I am passionate about learning.  Hearing from other educators from all over the world was rejuvenating: I left New York feeling refreshed and excited to explore these skills, approaches, and ideas.  This is why I love education (specifically public education) – because as educators we get to teach each other and build each other up.  We rise because others rise and pour into us.  We rise because we share and reflect and grow because we want others – our students, our colleagues, our community – to grow.

The Spirit of a Nation

Recently, I had the chance to collaborate with the fabulous 8th Grade Social Studies team at my school.  As part of their curriculum, they discovered the significance of the landscape artists of the Hudson River School.  After a brief art history presentation of the hidden qualities of these paintings, students ventured across the country into the pop-up mini galleries.  Using iPads to access QR codes, students compared and contrasted selected works of the portfolios Hudson River School artists and journeyed along the path in which an artist made their plein-air sketches before returning to their studio to paint.  Students then used formative and extended their knowledge with a S’More.

Finally, students were challenged to take a photograph that illustrates the style of the Hudson River School artists over their Spring Break.