Tag Archives: conference

NAEA 17: New York City Reflections


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.

imag9930.jpg    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 imag9974.jpgwicked 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. img_20170316_173427.jpgTwo 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.

imag9999.jpgWhile I enjoyed the sessions I went to, I did think the selection, for me anyway, was limited.  I don’t understand how imag9987_1.jpgsessions 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.

imag0028.jpgMy 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.

Presenting at NAEA15 NOLA



On a whim, I thought I would put a proposal in to present at the NAEA National Conference in New Orleans.  The proposals were due at the end of May last year, or something like that, and I cut it pretty close.  I don’t know why I put in that proposal…my husband had recently become unemployed and I wasn’t sure if we could even afford it.  But, I decided we would figure it out if I was accepted.

Fast forward to the beginning of the school year.  I received an email saying I was in.  I was in shock.  I knew many had proposed, and I was honored that I was a lucky one that was accepted.  Now, I had presented before at my state conferences. In fact, my first presentation was as a first-year teacher.  I was presenting a 3-lesson unit I had done during my student teaching.  The room was packed for that and I was nervous as hell.  But, all went well and I was glad I had done it.  Another time I presented I did a hands-on session.  While it was totally fun, I hated bringing all the supplies with me.  However, this was my first National conference.  Things would be different.  The audience base was a gazillion times bigger than Texas.  Talk about pressure.

This time I was going to present about how I have my students create altered books.  I chose to do a lecture-type presentation that would last about 25 minutes.  My session was called “Altered Books: Exploration Around a Theme”.  I created my powerpoint.  I gathered all the photos I had from various years.  And, I packed up a bunch of books my students had graciously allowed me to take to NOLA. I created business cards that had my session info and a QR code that linked to all of my information (website, email, twitter accounts, school website, etc.)  I highly suggest this.  It made it so easy to share things with others.  I was even able to give out at other times to teachers I had met during the conference.

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To say I was nervous is to put it lightly.  I was nervous I would talk too fast.  I was nervous no one would show up.  I was nervous I would flub.  I sat in the hall outside my room going over my slide show.  I knew the information by heart.  I don’t know why I felt the need to go over it.  It didn’t really calm my nerves.  Then people started to show up, waiting with me outside the room.  They were there for me.  I was starting to calm down.

I finally got in the room to set up.  I began putting the books on the table and it was like a signal went out the art teachers in the room.  They began to swarm the table.  I felt a sense of calm, and my worries melted away.  The room was full of art teachers–way more than I anticipated.  I began my show.  I was steady.  I slipped in my humor.  I talked with pride about my students.  I didn’t rush.

Basically, I felt I rocked it.  Later, during the rest of the weekend, when random people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed my presentation…I knew I had.

I look forward to presenting again.  I already have the wheels turning, trying to decide what I want to present about.

For those that didn’t attend, here are some files from my presentation.  Message me or comment if you have any questions.  I love sharing.

NAEA15 in NOLA: A first-timer’s review



Last May, (I think it was May), I took a chance and decided to throw my hat in and wrote a proposal for a presentation for NAEA15 in NOLA.  I hadn’t presented at a conference in years, and I don’t know what possessed me to try this time.  Tons of art educators also submitted proposals, so I figured my chances were slim.  Months went by as we waited patiently to get an email letting us know our proposal had been selected.  As luck would have it, mine was.

I’ve been teaching for 8 years now.  And, I am sad to say, that this was my first trip to a national conference.  I have attended many state conferences over the years (including my college years), but for one reason or another–mostly my kids and lack of funds–traveling out of state just wasn’t in the cards.  But this year, I had to, as Tim Gunn–our keynote speaker would say–make it work and get my butt to New Orleans.

I feel so lucky that my family was able to send me over to NOLA.  This has been a wonderful experience in my teaching career.  In short, I learned a lot, I made new friends, I met some of my internet colleagues, and I had some yummy food.

As with any convention, there are some sessions that are meh, some that are okay, and some great sessions that pumped me up.  The topics were relevant or were intriguing enough that I could make it relevant.  One that I loved was called “Existentialism and Evocative Design in Teenage Artwork”.  The speaker was Jesse Dortzbach.  My biggest take-away from that session (albeit not the only thing I am taking from it) was:



I went to tons of sessions about TAB and Choice in the classroom.  I sat and soaked it all in, reflecting on my practice, comparing/contrasting what others were doing.  After attending Ian Sands’ and Melissa Purtee’s session on choice in the high school classroom, I sat and talked with two teachers for over a half hour about TAB, how I came to use it, and what it looks like in my classroom.  One of the teachers was someone I have friended online, so it was nice to finally meet face to face.  The other was a gentleman from Chicago.  I *think* I helped convince him to take that chance on TAB and move forward to implement it.

This brings me to another great aspect of the National Convention…something I haven’t really experienced at my state convention…and that is meeting people.  I met a ton of people.  I have been chatting with people for almost 2 years now on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s all it’s been, chatting. They have just been images on my computer screen.  It was so nice to finally put real people to their profile pics and twitter handles.  I was able to hear voices.  I was able to laugh with them, smile with them, share moments with them. I worked and designed  a purse with Cassie StephensPhyllis Brown and Julie Shields in Tim Gunn’s “Ready, Set, Design: Bringing Design in the Art Classroom” session.

I met my #ArtsEd PLN and tweeted with them.  I got to talk face to face with Janine Campbell, one of my partners in crime for #TABChat.  I met my TAB colleagues at a drinks meet-up.  I gathered with Art Teacher Facebook Group friends for more drinks after that.  I could keep going, but I won’t.  I’ll stop by saying it was fabulous.

Now, NAEA created an app for the conference.  Before the conference, I wasn’t so in love with it.  But, once in NOLA, turns out it was good.  I used it for all my sessions…never needing my paper catalog.  The app had an activity feed where you could post statuses and pictures.  It was a bit overwhelming because several people posted waaaaaay too much and some posts would get lost.  However, Friday I posted a plea for some dinner company.  A couple of ladies replied, and I met up with them and a few more and had a great dinner.  We ended the night with a fun walk down Bourbon Street. The next day I met two of them for lunch and we several of us had our final dinner down in the French Quarter.

For me this is huge.  When I don’t know people, I am super shy.  But, on this trip, I put that aside and just went.  I put myself out there.  I told myself that I wan’t going to just sit in my hotel room…  And I didn’t.

Some lessons I learned as a first timer:

  • Wear comfy shoes.  And, just because you can walk around in your cowboy boots all day at school…walking around the convention center and NOLA in them is not the same.
  • Wear what you want.  I was worried about what to bring.  I decided that I would bring what I wear to school–jeans and nice shirts.  It was perfect.
  • The conference hotel isn’t always your best bet.  I stayed at a cheaper hotel (Thanks @Hampton). It was closer to the main convention sessions than the Hilton, it was cheaper, and it had free breakfast.
  • Business cards were a plus.  I am glad I made some.  It really made things easy at the end of my session and to give people my info.
  • Put yourself out there.  Don’t be afraid to talk to people.  Don’t be afraid to meet up with new people.  Don’t just sit by yourself in your hotel.  Do stuff!!!
  • Say hi and smile!  If you see another teacher with that NAEA lanyard…smile at them.  Hopefully your happiness will rub off and they will smile back.


One thing I didn’t talk about here was my session.  I will be creating a separate post on that.  It rocked so hard that it deserves more than a blurb in this post.

All in all, it was an amazing time.  Like I said, I am so grateful that my family was able to swing it for me to go.  I am already looking forward to hopefully going to Chicago for NAEA16.  I guess I best get to saving my milk money.