Sunday, November 30, 2014

Maintaining Rapport with Colleagues: November's Stepping Stones

For November's Stepping Stones, I focused on Maintaining Rapport with Colleagues.  To often issues arise with co workers that could have been avoided, and at times, we need to be the beacon of light that brings the peace and warmth to a workplace.

When working in a school setting, you have colleagues you interact with for a good portion of your day. It’s awesome when we help each other grow in our profession, but friction can hit due to instructional differences.  It is important to maintain relationships with those you work with because students can see when there are disagreements between adults.   I listed some of the most common roadblocks art educators may have with different colleagues and how we can work to have a positive professional relationship in our school setting.

Administrators are extremely busy people, and as much as they say we are an important part of the school, they also have the rest of the staff to think about.  With so much coming down from the top, they may not be thinking about art needs, let alone the specials with immediate situations.  I have found that the best way to maintain rapport between the art department and administrators is to advocate effectively. 

Secretaries are amazing people who do so much for our school behind the scenes that we don’t see everyday.  There have been many times when an art teacher needs information only provided by the secretaries, but sometimes we’re not able to get what we need in a timely manner.  Patience, understanding, and communication is always key.

Custodians make sure our environments are physically safe and effective for teaching.  They clean up the spills, unclog the clay out of our sinks, and even sweep up the remaining glitter left after a day full of art projects.  Custodians appreciate it when we communicate with them.  If you’re going to have a messy day with paint and clay, let them know!  

Specialists are in the same category as art teachers.  They’re frustrated when they feel isolated and unheard.  As a result, we each feel protective of our spaces and can snap when toes are stepped on, especially when art supplies and musical instruments are crammed in the same closet.  Understand that they may feel the same way you do when you’re frustrated, and if spaces are shared, communicate to alleviate further disagreements, and collaborate to create a more positive working space.

Paraprofessionals are staff that we may work with the most because they’re with the student while you’re instructing.  One of the common frustrations is that they try to do the projects for their students.  I find the best way to support each other is to communicate your expectations right away.  Understand adaptations will happen and explain how they can assist you and the students during your class time. 

Classroom teachers have their students for the biggest part of the school day.  When they have specials classes, it is their own time to plan.  One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from art educators about classroom teachers is the lack of respect they feel they receive.  To improve this relationship over time, always share what your class has made in art and ask questions on what they’re learning to promote future collaboration opportunities.  The more you advocate the connections between core subjects and the arts, they more respect you receive.  

To alleviate future unpleasant confrontations, always communicate effectively.  You’re not always going to please everyone, but being a shining beacon of light can help others to shine as well. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2015 Winter STEAM and Arts Integration Online Conference Registration is Open!

Are you passionate about igniting student learning through the arts?  Then be a part of the 4th Connectivity Online STEAM Conference offered by Education Closet!

What is the conference about?
The winter conference will focus on how to make the shift to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) integration. The growing movement of adding the Arts to STEAM while integrating the Common Core State Standards is essential in ensuring our students not only grow into critical thinkers, but also empowered creative, imaginative, and innovative citizens of the future. This year’s conference will showcase discussions, practical strategies, research, tools, resources, and demonstrations available for educators and leaders that can help them implement STEAM effectively in their classrooms, schools, and districts.

When is the online conference?
The virtual conference will be held live on Saturday February 7, 2015 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (EST) from wherever you are located.  Sessions are provided by leading educators, administrators, businesses, and researchers in the field. Each presentation is between 15-30 minutes in length and follows three strands: mini lecture sessions, hands-on strategy sessions, or demonstration sessions. There will also be break periods so that you can network with others from around the world, ask questions and explore the virtual exhibit booths by some of the globe's leading #ArtsEd Tech companies.

What's in it for me?
Because Education Closet highlights educators and leaders who are using STEAM practices in the field, everyone walks away with ideas that are meaningful and relevant to their teaching.  Each session is hand-picked to deliver high-impact information so your time is maximized throughout the event.  And with over 1,000 participants from all over the world, you'll be able to forge connections with others who share your passion for this work!

How will I be able to attend?
Education Closet's approach to this professional learning environment is through a virtual event space that will be provided by ON24, a global webinar-based platform to enhance participant engagement. There are no complicated downloads or software needed.  You'll receive one link to access the entire conference from any device, including your tablet or mobile phone. 

What if I can't watch the day of the conference?
All information is archived on a password-protected website after the event for 1 full year for registered participants.  You'll be able to access every session, all of the handouts and even the virtual exhibit booths whenever it's convenient for you.  Use it for small or large group PD throughout the year with your school or district!

Will I get professional development hours from this?
Each participant at the conference is eligible to receive a certificate for 8 hours of professional development participation.  This is available immediately after the event is concluded for live participants, and can also be earned through watching and commenting on the presentations in the archives.

First 500 participants receive a mailed TinkerKit of sample products, services and coupons worth over $200!
Early Registration is available from November 1-15, 2014 at $85.00 per person.
Regular Registration is available from November 15, 2014 to January 30, 2015 at $99.00 per person.
Learn more and register here:

Education Closet's Connectivity conferences have been a great resource for me to incorporate STEM ideas into my own lessons. With the inspiration of the STEAM integration, I have also been able to share more of the arts with other core classes.  Thank you for your ideas, Education Closet!