I have always wanted to go to Seattle, so when I saw that the National Art Ed conference was going to be held there, I was going no matter if my session proposals were accepted or not. Luckily for me, I was selected to co-present twice for the Seattle conference. That meant that I could get reimbursed by my district for the cost of admission to the conference. (Every little bit given back is helpful.)
I woke up at 3:30 am to start my journey to the West Coast. It was a long day, but the beauty of the city made it worth it…not to mention that I was meeting up with 2 of my favorite fellow TAB teachers, Liz and Hillary. We were able to get out of the city proper and experience Kirkland. It was so beautiful, and if we could afford it, I would so pick up my family and move there.
But I digress. Let’s talk about the conference. I spent this conference a little bit differently than I had in the past. I barely went to sessions, and instead channeled my friend and fellow Texas art teacher, Arlene Shelton. I wandered around the city for a large portion of the time. I spent a morning walking in the rain (and snow) down to the MoPop museum. I took my time and photographed parts of the city that often gets overlooked. I spent one morning with Joy Schultz walking around Pike Place Market, getting lost in the colors of fresh fruit and flowers, and marveling over the artisans booths. Hillary and I went on an adventure to dinner one evening and along the way found Jimmy Hendrix, Dick Blick, and rainbowed crosswalks. I paused for over a half hour Saturday morning to stand in solidarity as my fellow Americans walked in the “March for our Lives” protest. And, I drank more coffee than I would like to admit.
I did go to a few sessions, and I did present twice (these 2 sessions will each have their own posts.) But, to be honest, it was tough to find things that interested me. I went to every ceramics session I could find, but there wasn’t much that was new to me. In fact, one session got me so fired up… Let’s just say, as art teachers, we need to stop perpetuating techniques that are dangerous. No matter how cute it is.
Out of the 6 or 7 sessions I attended over the 3 days, several did stand out. I went to one that was about STEAM…well…it was really anti-STEM/STEAM. One of the speakers was Cindy Foley. She is amazing to listen to and I could have just sat and listened for hours. She is so passionate. (And, did you know that STEM really means “Strategies That Engage Minds”? Yeah, neither did I until Cindy told me so.) Another session that was wonderful was by Pam Ehrenreich. She talked about how she TABs in her high school class. Ask her about her “Random Objects of Treasure” collection, you won’t be disappointed. Clara Lieu gave a session on art critique. I found it super helpful as having student critique each other is one of my weak areas in my classes. Every year I do improve though, so there’s that. And, finally I went to a session by Candi Poll-Price on assessment. It was fantastic. I was sad I had to miss the end, but my session was next, so I had to take off early. (Also, I needed some more coffee.)
I hadn’t planned on spending the conference going to so few sessions. I had hoped there would be a ton for me to learn. Unfortunately, when I looked through the program, not much stood out to me. There were TAB sessions, but many were for elementary or they were sessions to get you excited about TAB. I already am excited about TAB. I don’t need to be convinced how amazing it is–for both my students and for me. I know this is going to sound a bit egotistical, and that is not my intention. I felt there wasn’t much for teachers, TAB teachers specifically, at my level in the ways of development. Things I want to discuss and think about are above the beginning levels. Don’t get me wrong, those types of beginning level sessions are of extreme importance. And, I love presenting and giving. I just need to be getting something too.
I am glad I went because I had numerous important conversations with my tribe at the TAB dinner and at other eating events. Funny how food and drink do that. Those conversations are what I really got the most from this year.
I will not be attending NAEA19 in Boston next year. I am opting for another Boston event–the TAB Institute in the summer of 2019. I am looking forward to the amazing things I will get from it and from the teachers who will be attending with me. Until then, thanks Seahawk fans for accepting this Packer fan into your town for a few days.
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