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.