Saturday, March 30, 2013

Being an Advocate for the Arts While Traveling

This week is my Spring break, and now that I'm at the end of it, I realized how much I needed to empty my mind for a brief time and re-collect my thoughts.  After time with my daughter (and my feet up), I looked back at some previous article I had written and realized I did not post my Arts & Activities articles since December!

My January issue involved how to be an advocate while traveling.  I originally wrote the post to describe ways to promote your students' work and the importance of your art class with the school and local community.  One of the may negatives I have heard from teachers who travel is that they feel unappreciated and hidden away in their schools.  The reasons vary; some say it's because they do not feel like they have a place in their school, or that they are so overburdened with their schedule, they don't have time to share their curriculum.

In my Arts & Activities article, I focused on ways you can advocate for the arts without overdoing your schedule.  This article was based on one of my earliest posts in this blog, which you can visit here.

How are you an advocate in your schools?  What have you found to be the most successful in promoting your art program?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Interested in a Sister School Match Up?

I wanted to help spread the word about this amazing project our state association is doing with schools in need.  If you're from Illinois, please consider participating in the Sister School Match Up!  If you're from another state, check with your state art education association to see if there's a program set up to help schools in need, or even if you're a school in need!  

The Illinois Art Education Association would like to help connect Illinois art educators who have surplus or donated materials with art educators teaching in schools who have little or no materials or equipment necessary for a quality art education program. This will be a teacher to teacher partnership and you do not need to be an IAEA member to participate (so please spread the word).
If you are interested in forming a sister school art educator to art educator partnership please fill out the appropriate form:

Click here–>Donating School (Example donation: Gently used student art supplies collected at end of school year such as watercolors, pencils, crayons)
Click here–>School in Need (Your school art program has little or no budget for supplies or equipment and are willing to pick up supplies)
Please contact Theresa McGee for any questions:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Can You Host a School-Wide Art Contest?

Even if you travel to different schools in your district, it is possible to have an art contest for your students!  I would like to share how your district can start your own contest, and how our district has been able to host an annual art contest/art show every year.  It has been a successful event every year, with a high amount of students who enter. 

How will you be funded? In the past, our district had received a grant to pay for all the expenses of the contest that included: frames, t-shirts for the winners, treats and beverages for the art show, paper for the contest, stipend for after school hours, and more.  The grant did end, but since our district found the art contest and annual show so supportive, we have been able to allocate funding within our means.  If you discuss the idea with the district superintendant, create an example of what funds would be needed.  If other art teachers are involved, create the budget as a team.  Think about what is needed, like drawing paper, fliers, entry form print-outs, and other expenses with exposing a district-wide event.  If funds are not available, create a project on "Art Room Aid" or "Donors Choose" to help with funding of materials needed.  You can also add in easels and props for the art show through both sites!

Is there any local business willing to help?  We combined efforts with a local framing company in Orland Park called "The Great Frame Up."  The company graciously frames each of the student winners for minimal cost, and event present their own award for an overall winner.  Is there a local frame company in your area?  Consider walking in and talking about your project.  Some companies are already willing to help, they may just be looking for schools to work with!  Local cafes and shops are also willing to help out, sometimes all you need to do is ask!

What rules would there be for the contest? There are three elementary art teachers in our district, and two of us that travel to different schools.  At each school we teach at, we introduce the contest, rules, and present examples of past student winners.  Listed below are the guidelines for our district's contest, which you may use or change for your own needs:

1. Art pieces must be the original work of the student. 

2. Submitted work may not be traced from another piece of art.

3. There is no theme so use your imagination!

4. All entries must be FLAT.  No 3-D pieces accepted.

5. Entries must be 11x14 inches or smaller (entries larger than 11x14 inches will not be considered for judging because they would be too large for the frames).

6. There must be a one-inch border around the submitted artwork.

7. The name, school, and grade are written on the back of the work.

8. No photographs or computer-generated work accepted.

9. Entry forms need to be filled out for each artpiece to turn in.

What length of time would we have for students to enter work? We give about two months for students to enter projects for the contest, and even encourage students to enter completed class assignments if they wish.  Art teachers are also given a stipend for offering after school time for students to work with materials not available to them at home.  Work on a time frame that is best for your district.  With teh crazy amount of contests in our schools, our students begin the contest in January and projects are due in March, normally before ISATS.  Judging takes place in mid-March to give the frame company time to set up all the frames.

How should you judge?  After all the projects are collected, the art teachers judge each of the schools seperately.  Five pieces are chosen from each school, but if more than one piece chosen was created by the same student, the teachers will make sure that five different students are chosen.  The chosen artworks are then sent to The Great Frame Up to be professionally framed for the art show at the end of the school year. 

The teachers judge on quite a few things: composition (does the artwork fill the paper?), originality (was the drawing/painting the student's own work, or did they copy another cartoon?), and craftsmanship are the main points the judges look for.  Also, since I teach at Wilkins and Lyle, I cannot judge those schools.  This keep the student work anonymous and unbiased.  Below are the winners chosen from my two schools for the 2013 school year:

Winners from Lyle Elementary

Winners from Wilkins Elementary

When do you have the show?  Our district has the annual art show in May, which gives the frame company time to complete the artworks.  We also send out invitations to the winners families, and print certificates to all students who entered the contest.  Printing certificates shows that you acknowledge the student's effort in entering the contest, plus they enjoy the recognition.

There's more!  Is there a state art contest coming soon?  Consider offering to your students to re-enter into another contest.  Currently, IAEA is collecting artworks for the statewide Student Show, and I have been asking students if they would like another chance to enter.

Do you have contests in your district?  I'm interested in hearing what other schools do!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Attack of the Bunny Puppets! A Kindergarten Spring Project

It's that time of year!  Now that Spring has arrived, students start itching for projects that remind them of warm weather and Spring traditions!  What better way than to have your students create their own bunny puppet!

Here are the materials for the project:

-colored paper bags (I order mine from Nasco or Triarco)
-3" x 12" light blue paper for ears
-2" x 10" pink paper for ears

The following colored papers I cut in bulk so I don't worry about it for the next few years.  These items are good for art helpers to cut ahead of time and fill up ziploc bags full of squares and strips.  Hint...good for traveling or on a cart!)

-2" x 2" white squares for eyes and teeth
-1" x 1" black squares for nose
-1.5" x 1.5" blue squares for eyes
-4" x 4" grey or light brown squares for bunny cheeks
-thin strips of black for whiskers

I start by showing the students how to make the bunny ears.  Fold a piece of blue strip and a piece of pink strip in half.  Show the students how to cut off the folded side, not the talking side!  When they cut off the fold, they get two bunny ears!  Glue the pink strip onto the blue strip.  I also show students how to glue the ears on the back of the bag, not the front, which makes it messy!

Sometimes, I get students who glue their ears on the wrong side, which is easy to fix (even after you remind them to watch for the bag opening!).  Just tape the opening shut, and cute the bottom strip off the bunny for a new opening (see below for example).

After the ears are glued on, you now have an option: if you have students in your classes who are still challenged with cutting out shapes, special needs, or still struggle with scissors, the colored squares are perfect for students to finish on time.  The only shape I make ALL students cut out are the don't want the bunnies to look like robots!

I place a bowl filled with the white, blue, black and grey/brown squares on each table and have the students complete the assenblage themselves.  I encourage students to cut out the eyes, cheeks, and nose from the squares to challenge them, and most students do!

In the last 10 minutes of class, I walk around with the whiskers for the students to place three on each side of the bunny cheeks.  When the students finish, they can leave the art room with their bunnies on their hands, or have their bunnies placed in their mailboxes to go how if you're in their room.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Pinterest is a Blessing for Traveling Art Teachers

There are tons of blog posts out there that brag about the amazing superpowers of Pinterest.  This post may not be so different, but I felt it's important to share just how much Pinterest has helped me with my lessons while traveling, and even on a cart.

Pinterest helped lighten the load of materials to carry.  Yes, that's right...less materials to pack from school to school.  What made it possible?  The ability to upload print-outs and documents to share.  I have also found other print-outs shared by other pinners that have been quite useful!  Since I've started using Pinterest in my classroom, I spend the morning printing up my handouts for my classes from the pins I have saved onto special boards.  Now all I carry from school to school is my laptop, which is a HUGE load off my back.  I started off with a suitcase every day!

Pinterest helps my organize my lessons.  I have my boards set up in grade levels, along with separate boards for seasonal projects, cultural, cross-curricular, literature based, etc.  I plan it that way to make it easy to find a project idea.  Everyone is different, and I like to call it "organized chaos."

Pinterest helps me to find my websites faster.  When I start a lesson, I create a Powerpoint, or show an interactive website.  Instead of keeping websites in my favorites bar (which has filled up so much I can't find anything anymore),  I organize those sites in boards set up for my projects.  I've even begun setting up a Pinterest account for my school email, so I can organize one project at a time with the ideas I've used.

Pinterest makes it easy to show videos.  Similar to websites, I save videos that I show with certain projects.  When I attempted to save videos in my favorites bar at work, I couldn't find them because they all started with "" (which is impossible to figure out sometimes!)  With the ability to pin videos onto my boards, I can quickly find my pin and open the video for students to view!

Pinterest made it possible to collaborate with other teachers in my district...without taking extra time to meet!  You know how you can create a new board?  Add another pinner to your board by typing in your co-worker's name (if they're on Pinterest too), and you two can share pins together for your cross-curricular lesson.

And as much as everyone's heard this before, the same goes for every art teacher who uses Pinterest: Pinterest has helped expand my curriculum.  Thank to all the amazing art teachers who believe in sharing ideas and not selling them, a network of 21st century skilled art educators borrow ideas on Pinterest and blog posts pinned onto Pinterest, and they even pay it forward by posting their own projects!

Personally, I do not believe in selling lesson plans (unless you go through the efforts of creating your own book), I believe in a network of sharing ideas.  I do not feel I can claim any project ideas as my own original work because I may have been inspired by thousands of other ideas without remembering where I may have received them.  I love to see others take an idea I shared on Pinterest and re-pinning their accomplishments with their students.

I believe in paying it forward.  If you've borrowed lessons from Pinterest, re-post your finished projects.  Share your accomplishments.  Follow other art educators and open new doors for collaboration.

Lastly, I need to pay my respects, because with the help of Pinterest, the viewership of my personal blog has increased.  Every post I make in my blog is pinned so I can share my insight with others, and the word can spread.  Thank you, Pinterest, for helping the art teachers, including those who travel.  You helped lighten my load to carry.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Live From Ft. Worth, It's the NAEA Convention Wrap-Up!

Instead of going day by day within the last stretch of the NAEA, I would like to share some highlights about the convention that stood out the most to me.  Please note that I am wishing to share my personal experiences at the convention to show what others can do with information I have gathered.  Many art educators are unable to attend the national conference due to shortfalls with money or school activities. Information given out at conferences should be shared with all so we can stay up to date with current trends in art education.  This may be from a personal perspective, but I didn't want to give the impression of saying, "look what I'm doing, everyone!"  I merely just wanted to share the wonderful ideas I gave gained or have given.

On Saturday, March 9th, many art educators that are known on Twitter dressed up as "Art Teacher Superheroes."  We were asked many times what the idea was behind our crazy costumes.  Back in the fall, many of us tweeting art teachers came up with the idea that art teachers are superheroes in our own right.  We have the amazing ability to adapt, create, and inspire our students.  One educator came across the company Ink Pixi, which had a superhero logo you can edit to your liking, so we all bought t-shirts with our Twitter names.  Other have bought shirts and put "Mrs. O," or the name of their high school.  We encourage others to be superheroes, so if you are interested in purchasing a shirt of your own, please click HERE!!!!

One art teacher created a logo image before the conference, so here's our picture in order, like the legos!

And yes...we dressed up like this ALL DAY!  Our other purpose was to share the benefits of being part of a PLN, which stands for "Personal Learning Network."  The video attached explains the positives of using social networking to collaborate with a network across the country, or even the world.

The session titled "Navigating Art-On-a-Cart: Strategies and Best Practices" had shared the results of research collected by my dear friend, Heidi Lung, who is a current doctoral candidate.  I plan on having a separate post to share the facts collected, and some pretty amusing photos as well.  I encourage you to please visit her website Art On a Cart Research for more information on her studies...especially since that's what most of what this blog is about!

Blogging Basics for Art Educators was one of the most informative sessions I had attended, especially since I care so much about this blog!  The presentation was hosted by the creator of Art of Education (AOE), Jessica Balsley.  Jessica had shared some tips for those wishing to start a blog, those who have one, and how to make a blog successful.  To view her full presentation, please click HERE.

As one of the NAEA Student Chapter Past Presidents, I support pre-service art teachers by speaking on panels to answer questions students may have about applying for jobs and what to do to keep up with professional support.  

In our panel, we had the current past-president of the Students Chapter, along with the national advisor, one of the writers of the National Visual Arts Standards, a Past President for NAEA, (me), and a higher education advisor from Kutztown University.  With the wealth of knowledge we had together, we were able to answer the students questions, such as what administrators look for in an interview, how to prepare, and what vocabulary to know when entering the district.  If anyone reading has any questions concerning this panel, future teaching interviews, or why I even shared this, please comment and I will answer all your questions!

Donna Staten is probably the most well known Pinterest art teachers, and we were lucky to have her present on using "Pinterest in the Classroom."  Donna went over all the basics of how to set up Pinterest, and how to manage boards for use in the classroom.  I will be designing a post concerning using Pinterest in your art curriculum as a traveling art teacher in the very near future thanks to the inspiration of Donna!  If you would like to follow her boards, please CLICK HERE.  I also personally thanked Donna for pinning my blog posts because I have had a higher number of page views since she has over 15,000 followers!

The NAEA convention gave me many ideas to use in my classroom, curriculum, blog writing, and overall development of my profession.  I always walk away with new well as an overpacked suitcase of new materials and lesson plan books!  I am happy to know such amazing people in the art education profession, and they inspire me to continue being an advocate for the arts in education.  

Were you at the convention?  What did you like the most?  What did you feel needed to be improved?  I want to hear it from you!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Live from Ft. Worth, It's the NAEA Convention! 2nd Update

Please note that I am wishing to share my personal experiences at the convention to show what others can do with information I have gathered.  Many art educators are unable to attend the national conference due to shortfalls with money or school activities. Information given out at conferences should be shared with all so we can stay up to date with current trends in art education.  This may be from a personal perspective, but I didn't want to give the impression of saying, "look what I'm doing, everyone!"  I merely just wanted to share the wonderful ideas I gave gained or have given.

We began day 2 with the vendors again, and yet again...ran out of time.  The vendors at the convention take up a HUGE hall, and you need at least three trips with an hour each time to visit them properly.  Vendors at the conference include: portfolios, materials/supplies, art travel, ceramic products, college/universities, curriculum, dvds/cds, fundraising, photography, posters/visuals, software, textbooks, and more!  If you're browsing this, please share your favorite part of the vendors in my comments, or ask questions about any materials listed above.  I encourage sharing of ideas, even with the exhibitors!

Next on our list: Our presentation on the "Crayon Box That Talked: A District Collaboration" was beginning!  A few months ago, I shared a blog post about our school district's collaboration on the book "The Crayon Box That Talked" by Shane DeRolf.  To see my previous post, just click here instead of searching my archive!

Sorry the picture is so dark, I just wanted to show how awesome it was to present with my co-worker!

After our presentation, we sat in on The New National Standards for Visual Arts: A Progress Report.  I'm pleased to say that the updated visual arts standards should be completed and public by the end of the year, before 2014!  I highly recommend you visit and download the NEW VISUAL ARTS STANDARDS UPDATE to inform your administrators on what's going on!

What's a better way to end a busy day?  Visit an art museum!  The special exhibit at the Kimball Art Museum was Bernini: Sculpting in Clay, and if you're in Ft Worth, I highly recommend it!  Bernini's sculptures are amazing in detail, pose, and texture.  I love looking at the ways he captures the folds of fabric, or the curls in the hair.  I wish you can take pictures of exhibits like these to share the amazing details we see in the shows.

Lastly, I would like to share how awesome Ft Worth has been in promoting the arts in education.  Flags like these were hanging all up and down the street promoting our conference and welcoming art educators from across the country.  Thank you, Texas, for your support!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Live From Ft. Worth, It's the NAEA Convention!

It's 4:30am on Friday, the second day of the conference, and I'm wide awake.  I blame too much sweet tea...or maybe I'm just too excited to see what's going to happen today!

I do not wish to rub in anyone's faces that I'm here, but I feel it's important to share what insights I gain from attending such enriching professional development experiences.  If you were not able to attend, visit the art website to find presentation information and materials you may want to share with your district.  We always try our best to give what we can for those who wish to gain more insight for their lessons, but cannot afford to travel.  I hear you and I wish to help!

After flying here at 6:30 in the morning yesterday, we dropped off our bas at the hotel and quickly got to work with our schedules.

First on my list, Connecting the Common Core to the Next Generation Arts Standards.  IN this presentation, we learned about research that examined the parallels between artistic literacy and ELA literacy, as defined by the standards.  In essence, with the Visual arts standards not in completion as of yet, we are able to supplement our lessons with the current common core ELA and Math standards without "replacing" our own standards.  Sounds a bit confusing, but this is the direction to where we are headed!  It is always best to stay on top of what our standards are, and finding connections makes our curriculum that much more essential in your school's core subjects.  In other words, it makes you more important and recognized as a valued subject.

Next up, The Next Generation Arts Standards: The Arts at the Heart of Learning with Jay McTighe.  This large session introduced how the Next Generation Arts Standards project group is using the "Understanding by Design" framework to guide their work.  The session explored the key design elements in the standards (including lifelong transfer goals, enduring understandings, essential questions, and cornerstone tasks).

At every convention, I look out for little quirks that make that city unique.  I found my first one on the way to my first given presentation. A huge sculpture made with cowboy hats!

Next up, my first presentation with my colleagues from the NAEA Student Chapter.  From 2007-2012, I served on the presidential team for the NAEA Student Chapter, and since then, I have grown a close bond with Past Presidents who have served as well since 2000.  While we were in New York for our annual Past President breakfast, we discussed the idea to share our experiences since completing our presidency with attendees.  Our purpose was not to brag about our accomplishments, but to share what others can do once they enter a leadership role.

Out of all who presented, we've had two become national board certified (one is myself), quite a few who received state and national awards, two as doctoral candidates, one who was the President for his state association, others who are advisors for student teachers, and many, like me, who write for arts education publications!  It was a great joy to unite a legacy and share our insights with the attendees!

The vendors at the national convention are always overwhelming.  There's a gigantic room loaded with art education materials, and not enough time to visit each one.  I always make time to stop by my friends and suppliers for my classroom's art materials.  The vendors are always very friendly and more than willing to help answer any questions you may have on products for the art room.

Here's Triarco!  Terry is an amazing person to work with when you have questions about materials for your lessons.  Many vendors, including Triarco, have free lesson plans for you to take home with you and try in your classroom!

Dick Blick always have new lesson ideas you can make and take home!

Since I am halfway through my pregnancy, I needed to take my break, check in to the hotel, and eat.  We ended our first day with the annual Artisan's Gallery and TASK Party.  The Artisan's Gallery is for art educators to sell their own handmade works, jewelry, photography, prints, and crafts, while the TASK party (which has become a popular way to have a fun art party) was a crowded success!

Yes, that skull was a handmade work of art! I asked permission to take a picture because I was amazed with the detail!  I wish I could have been able to afford to buy it!!!!  The snake wrapping around the head was made with rope!

And what's a better way to end a first night?  A picture with a painted Native American!  If you are at the conference and reading this, PLEASE share your favorite sessions!  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Preparing for a Maternity Leave with Traveling

I've hit the halfway point of my pregnancy and my due date is less than a week before we start our next school year.  Lately I have not been able to get my preparations out of my head.  With this being my second pregnancy, I want to be sure I do it differently.

With my first maternity leave, I was pregnant in my first year teaching, which meant I missed a portion of my second year.  I was not sure how to prepare for a leave at that time, so I did not prepare as well as I should have.  I left my curriculum binder for the sub and asked if he/she could set up my room.

I came back after 8 weeks to empty walls, no grades taken, and spent the next two weeks staying late to  organize.  I was not a happy camper.  I realized that if I could have had better plans left behind, things could have been better.  At the time, I was also traveling to three schools, and on a cart at two schools.  I struggled pretty much my entire first year of teaching, so why would I expect someone to handle it within 8 weeks?

I've already taken steps to help prepare for my maternity leave.  Although my leave is in the beginning of the school year, these steps could work for any time of the year with traveling.  I am more than willing to hear any suggestions readers may have that I may have overlooked.  Although I am organized and a little obsessive about my classrooms, I may miss a few things!

1. Prepare your classroom expectations.  Although the sub may want to use their own strategies to manage your classes, the students are familiar with your routines.  Write down your rules for the room to help the sub (in the beginning of the year, I print out my rules to share with the classes to remind them.)  Make copies for all your schools you teach at.  Don't forget the classroom procedures and clean-up details!

2. Write an agenda. Is it the beginning of the school year?  Let the sub know where your displays are at to hang.  Explain where to get the grade books, who to go to for help, where the school art display spaces are, etc...and be sure to do the same for all your schools.  If your leave is at the end of the school year, write directions on where you want your displays placed after being taken down, as well as any wrap up activities need to happen.  In the middle of the school year?  Notify the sub of any events that are happening that they would need to be aware of.

3. Don't miss any extra details.  Notify the sub of seating details, extra duties you attend, meetings, committees, emergency situations, and anything else that would pertain to your duties.  Yes, even traveling teachers have meetings and duties to attend.

4.  Make common materials accessible.  In my second school, I share a room with another art teacher, we communicated on how to use the common materials, such as crayons, colored pencils, markers, and pastels.  We made bins for pencils, scissors, and glue to share as well.  When you're on your leave, notify the sub of where your common materials are placed for projects.  If you do not want the sub to use your clay, just simply tell them in your plans.  Don't be mean, many subs to have experience in the arts and may be able to handle any material you leave behind (I had quite a bit of fun subbing for an end of the year leave before I became a full time teacher!).  Do this for all your schools!

5. Prepare your lesson plans.  In some situations, your sub may have their own lessons that fit into your curriculum.  In other cases, it's better to be prepared.  Depending on the amount of weeks you are away, prepare your lessons for each week.  Notify the sub of where materials are located for your lessons.

6. Be prepared for anything.  Since my leave starts in the beginning of the year, everyone is still trying to get a full time job.  In my previous leave, I didn't get a sub until two weeks into the school year.  I was not happy about that but it can happen.  Be sure to leave plans that any sub can handle for the first few weeks in case your school does not find someone right away.  

From the looks of all the work you have to do, don't be intimidated about having your family! If you take the steps needed to be prepared, you can enjoy your leave with your new bundle of joy and any future bundles you may have!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Power of Professional Development

In just a few days, I will be flying to Ft. Worth for the annual National Art Education Association (NAEA) convention.  I always look forward to seeing my art ed. colleagues, presenting, gathering new ideas, not to mention the vendors, events, and super sessions!  My first convention was in 2006, when I was first introduced to the world of NAEA.  I loved it so much, I didn't want it to end!

I didn't want to come here and brag about the fact that I'm going, but to share why professional development is important, especially in the field of art education.

1. To stay up to date with current trends and topics.  As described in the standards of the national board for professional teachers, it is essential to stay up to date with current events in the subject you teach.  LIke technology, the visual arts can offer new lessons, tricks in the art room, and curriculum changes every year.  With the current changes in core curriculum standards in all subjects (art and music standards are due to emerge by 2014), now is an essential time to stay involved.

If you would like to see more information on the core arts standards, please visit NCCAS.

2. To prevent burn-out of your current lessons.  Have you taught that same lessons for years on end?  Students can see when you are bored with a subject you teach.  It's important to  teach the objectives of the lessons, but with the joy of art, there are many ways to introduce a concept.  You can find new ideas through conferences, workshops, or just by taking additional classes to strengthen your craftsmanship.

3. To meet others in the same field as you.  Yes, it is a good thing to go out and make friends who do the same thing you do.  It can open a doorway for many opportunities...sharing ideas, pen pals, artist trading cards between schools, promotion of your students' work, and much more.

Every year, I meet with the National Student Chapter Past Presidents.  We share what opportunities we've had since finishing the Student Chapter.

4. It's required of you to advance your professional development.  Every educator is required to gather their PD's, or in my case, our CPDU's.  Although our own school districts offer hours during School Improvement Days, many times they do not offer what you need for your curriculum.  In my district, I feel that only about 25% of all PDs offered can help improve my teaching.  I'm not upset about that because there are only 4 art teachers out of 200+ in my area.  However, we are encouraged to look for more opportunities outside of our district.

So where can you find those professional developments opportunities to grow?  Here are a few examples Ive used in the past to help!

The NAEA Convention is the biggest PD you could possible get.  It happens once a year around MArch/April, with 7000+ attendees every year.  There are hundreds of presentations offered for you to attend, as well as 100+ vendors for you to visit.  There are always guest artists every year to share their experience (in previous years, we've had Chuck Close, Faith Ringgold, Wyland, and Judy Chicago as just a few famous names).

                                         Meeting Faith Ringgold while in New Orleans, 2008.

Since the convention is always in a major city, I make it a point to visit at least one art museum ever year.  I like to bring back images of artworks for my classroom and share them with students.

Your State Conferences are also another way to gain your professional development time.  Like the national convention, you can attend presentations, workshops, guest speakers, luncheons, and visit the vendors.  The state conference is also local, which is easier to get to in many situations.  State conferences are great for getting to know art educators in your area.

My local conference is hosted by the Illinois Art Education Association (IAEA).  Check with your state association as to when and where your local conference can be!

Online Conferences are starting to pop up to help those who a. can't afford the state and national conferences, b. can't take the time off work, or c. can't find a babysitter.  The Art of Education Blog is hosting their first online conference this summer for a more affordable fee to help those who can't go to the other conferences.  It will be nice for me since I'll be 8 months pregnant at the time!  Please visit the Art of Education for more information about the online conference.

Local colleges, universities, museums, and studios also offer opportunities for classes and workshops to boost your professional development.  Many offer those PD credits you need for your certification, and some workshops can be free!  I like the word free!

These options offer workshops that help your curriculum, such as new trends in technology, methods and materials to work with, and themes to use in your lesson units (good to find at local museums).

After everything you learn through your professional development opportunities, there is something you can do to give back: create your own presentation.  This can be done at national, state, and online conferences, as well as your own district!  As an accomplished teacher in your subject, it's a positive step to be an advocate at the local, state, and national level because you may have something to share that could make a positive impact.

After every conference I've attended, I feel rejuvenated and more inspired than ever.  It's always hard to keep track of EVERYTHING you've taken in, but with one step (idea) at a time, you will notice a huge  positive difference in the way you look at your curriculum and classroom/cart.  Keep in touch with those colleagues you've met, share your favorite experiences through social media, and post your recent accomplishments throughout the school year.  Use your Personal Learning Network to your advantage and be an advocate.