One would think that by now I would be sitting in the sun, sipping margaritas and enjoying my summer. One would think that if one didn’t know me. I have 2 kids and the Texas sun is way to hot to sit under all day. Now sipping margaritas…that’s another story for another day.
My third week off for summer was spent doing some very important and exciting professional development–the Texas TAB Lab (#TxTABLab). Lori Wallace and Julie Bates honored me months ago by asking me to help out with this year’s mini-conference, by heading up the secondary portion of the conference. This year was our second event. At our first meet-up, there were about 30 of us tops in this small conference room in a hotel in Waco, TX. Ginger Tapia set the whole thing up and it was wonderful. It was there that an event was born. This year, TAB Lab was definitely the place to be, as we more than doubled the attendance with 67 teachers. And, I am happy to say that the secondary peeps went from about 7 or 8 to almost 20. It’s a good time to be a Tx TAB teacher.
Let’s get to it. Our main meeting hall was the Frank Fickett Center (FFSTC). The hotel suggested it because the conference room was not going to hold us all. It was a wonderful space to be in for 2 days. The conference kicked off with one of our keynote speakers, Katherine Douglas. She was unable to make it to Austin, so she spoke via interwebs. Among the many fabulous things Kathy spoke of, she told us in regards to child art that “adult eyes need to learn appreciation for it”. She also shared her 7 goals for her TAB studio and her students.
- Have an idea
- Get materials and tools to explore idea
- Explore/Make idea, with false starts, change directions, mistakes
- Know when it’s finished
- Put away materials/tools properly
- Reflect/Share ideas
- Think about what’s next
Thank you Kathy so much for joining us.
That afternoon we went to visit some classrooms. The elementary teachers broke into 2 groups–visiting both Julie’s and Lori’s classrooms in Pflugerville. The secondary teachers made the long drive to Taylor to visit my classroom. I am so happy they made the journey. In spite of the 80+° room temp, it was an amazing experience. I talked briefly about my journey, then we toured my room and how it was set up. We talked about daily activities and classroom flow. There was much conversation…conversation that lasted well past when I thought we would leave.
We went to dinner at Rudy’s BBQ and went back to the FFSCT for some more art chat and some Paper Smaché with the one and only Clyde Gaw. Paper smaché is like paper maché, but Clyd-i-fied.
Our second day opened up with our second keynote speaker, Clyde Gaw. I bet you thought he was just here for Smaché. He was also here for the cardboard. In his presentation, he told us of his journey–his life journey–from the train tracks by where he grew up to his current job as a high school TAB teacher in Indiana. It was interesting to me to hear how and when he met people I know (or know of), like Clark Fralick, Diane Jacquith, Kathy, NanHathaway, and John Crowe. My biggest take away from Clyde that morning was the rhizome. He likened things to it and called us rhizomatic. (def 1 def 2). If you were’t at TAB Lab, but you are meeting up with Clyde at some other TAB event this summer, I’m sure he’ll talk about it.
The rest of the day included a working lunch, small group sessions, mini-presentations from attendees and 2 guest speakers, Priscilla Lamb and Manuel Gamez. Priscella presented on Autism and Special Ed. Manuel is the Fine Arts Director for PfISD. It was interesting to hear the perspective of a non-teacher, someone in admin. He very much supports the arts and really likes TAB. Bonus for Lori and Julie. We ended the day with some gelli printing with Lori and some faux screen printing led by yours truly. Unfortunately, after testing the screen the night before, I didn’t wash it fully and the prints weren’t as clean as I would have liked. But, my fellow teachers were cool with it and didn’t complain.
After dinner, many of us met back at the hotel conference room and had some cookies, milk, chat, and arting. It was a fun way to end the day.
Friday was our last day and Lori had set up a great activity at Austin Creative Reuse. ACR is a store that is supplied by donations. It is a TAB teacher’s dream. Well, and it’s the dream of artists and crafters and people that are into reuse. We met in the classroom at ACR and split into 2 groups. Those with the late birthdays went to the store first. I have already been to ACR, so I knew what was up. The others were new and were in amazement. After shopping time, we went back and we participated in what was essentially like “Chopped”, but with art materials. We worked in groups of 4/5. We were given a theme of “represent”. And we went from there. I was fortunate to get with a group where we all just flowed and worked well together. Our sculpture was called “Bond”.
All in all it was a fabulous conference. I am so glad that I was able to go and that I was enable to pass on my knowledge to others. I know that I didn’t provide much of what I learned at Tx TAB Lab, but if you are curious as to what was shared, visit out Padlet. It has links to almost everything. I look forward to next year when I hope we go even bigger…it is Texas after all…Go Big or Go Home! Until then, I have Facebook to be able to talk to my new TAB friends.