It’s November here in Texas, and you know what that means…warm weather, rain, Christmas decor explosions at all stores, and of course, the Texas Art Ed Assoc. annual conference. This year it fell the weekend before Thanksgiving. So, that was a bonus for me because I got 2 extra days of vacation added to the week off for Thanksgiving my district gave me.
On Thursday morning, I got packed and drove on up to Dallas to stay at the Hilton Anatole. While I enjoyed having my own room and a whole bed to myself, I did not enjoy the price it all cost. I kept getting asked why my district didn’t pay for it. Well, I don’t know why, they just don’t, so I deal. I do it all in the name of continuing education, and because I love my students. If you know how to convince my district to pay for me to go to these conferences, let me know.
Anywho. Let’s talk conference. The state conference is something that when I first started teaching–I mean like still in college to become an art teacher, I religiously attended. Then, I had kids, so I stopped attending. I started attending again again 2 years ago, but since switching to TAB, I find there isn’t as much for me here anymore. TAB teachers seem few and far between here in this big ‘ole state, but maybe I’m wrong about that…who knows. So, now, my main reason for attending is presenting. If I can make a few teachers think about the way they teach and why they teach the way they do, then I’m good.
This year I presented twice. Once on assessment, and once on TAB in general. I felt my assessment presentation did not go well. Don’t feel bad. I’m okay with that. It was dry and the flow wasn’t very good. It was on assessment after all, so, no love lost. The best part of the session was when I got to grading and how I don’t grade. That was my favorite part. Maybe I will do a no-grading session next year.
My second session about TAB basics, called Embracing the Chaos, went a million times better. I had a pretty full house…well, 75% of the seats were filled and for a 4pm session on a Saturday, the last day of the conference, I’d say that is pretty good. I was able to be my energetic and animated self. There were a lot of questions. We even went over time, which I felt bad when the next presenter did come in and finally said something. But in my defense, usually the next presenter is there right at the ending time, tapping their foot, ready to set up. After we left the room, I did get to talk to a couple of people for another half hour. I think I have some converts. So, success!!!
While I didn’t go to a lot of sessions, I did have a good time. I met and befriended the Terraforma card guys, Michael and Stewart. They are a fun duo, and their cards are kinda cool. I got to catch up with Justin Clumpner and hear him speak. His session on AP art really made me want to usurp the AP program at my school, and perhaps start a Pre-AP program. He gave me lots to think about. And bonus, he took me off site to get a burger, which was a total win! I attended a session by fellow TABber, Wynita Harmon, where I got to participate in an art challenge with some strangers. I saw Cassie Stevens do a keynote and provide us with this quote full of wisdom, “Stop giving a shit.” I participated in a #K12artchat tweet-up. It was totally interesting to be tweeting to the people sitting right next to you. And, I got to throw a few pots for a local empty bowls event. I think this was the best idea this Dallas team had! It was so relaxing and fun! It brought me to my happy place.
One thing that always interests me when I go to the state conference is the VASE winners’ gold seal artworks. I am fascinated to see what types of works are considered tops in my state from the previous year. Last year I wrote a post about my feelings on VASE that got me on the wrong side of some people. My feelings haven’t changed, but this year I am going to be a little nicer. While most of the 2-D winners were still very “portrait steeped in realism” heavy, I was happy to see that many were breaking away from the usual media I had grown accustomed to–prismacolor and pencil. I snapped some photos of ones that I really liked.
I do always love the sculpture winners. They are always full of creativity, originality, and fabulousness.
In the end, I enjoyed this year’s conference. Was it as fun as a National Art conference? Hell no! I mean seriously, that’s when I get to see my tribe and my TAB mentors. But, for a state conference, it was one of my favorites. I am glad I went, and that I have decided to start going to them again. See y’all in Galveston next year, and look out for at least one TAB presentation from me.