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.
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 wicked 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. Two 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.
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.
While I enjoyed the sessions I went to, I did think the selection, for me anyway, was limited. I don’t understand how sessions 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.
My 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.
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.
Jean, you voiced my thoughts exactly. The TAB sessions were good, and would have been GREAT for a TAB newbie, but I was left wanting something more. Taking your TAB/Choice practice to the next level. I’d love to see topics next year like Getting Quality Work in a Choice-Based Classroom, To Grade or Not to Grade – TAB Style Assessment, TAB-Choice in a Single Media Class, etc. Hopefully NAEA leadership will realize that there are enough of us out there practicing this already that they can go beyond just offering overview sessions.
Rebecca, I know that someone is planning on proposing one on tab and the single media class. It would be great if they polled their membership as to what they want to see. Thanks for the comment.
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