I am writing my article from the airport in Albuquerque. I just attended the National Art Education Association leadership conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My head is so full of the vision and direction of the future of art education and I cannot wait to share it with you all. In my opinion, leadership and advocacy go hand-in-hand and everyone in WAEA can be an advocate and a leader. While attending this conference, I have also been reading the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. In the beginning of my reading, I found this dynamic quote from the text that states, "Light yourself on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles around to watch you burn." Isn't that the greatest! Everyday as an art educator, you use your enthusiasm for art education to be an advocate for your classroom, your students and your school.
Below are ways that I advocate for art education in my school district:
You know those inter-school envelopes that are manila and boring? In my classroom I love to make paste paper and I also have heavy paper covering my work surfaces. My students and I use this paper to create inter-school envelopes that have art on them for everyone to see! Every time someone sends that envelope, they are reminded that they were created artists. I have students draw on the manila ones as well or we use stamps with art quotes so they are bound to draw attention.
Vistaprint.com has very affordable postcards and I love to order some for the school year (I even got my principal to pay for them). I use them to send to the students. I send home a postcard if they did a great job in class, if they have artwork hanging at the district office, if their work is in an art show. I have students—even the “too cool” 5th graders—come up to me in excitement to let me know that they got their postcards in the mail. I get all the addresses on sticker labels at the beginning of the school year from my school secretary so that I do not have to look up 700 addresses.
Every year, I give a presentation to the school board. I have done a wide variety of presentations from PowerPoint presentations to having board members open a new box of crayons and write in crayon a fond memory they have that connects them to the crayons. I have the presentations saved—just email me if you would like one. Better yet, I am willing to come present to your school board if you would like me to! In addition, our boardroom is decorated monthly by a different art teacher with student work. If your boardroom walls are bare please consider hanging art, it is an easy way to advocate without having to attend every board meeting.
Social media, as you know, is an important advocacy tool. I have a classroom Facebook page. You should follow me at Black River Falls Elementary Artists. I post pictures of my students’ work as well as announcements. I have a Twitter account and I am working on tweeting more. I currently mostly just like to gawk at other tweets. I am working on my blog and will have that up and running shortly. I am also on Pinterest, My Pinterest board is under my maiden name, Jen Sweeney. Please note: I share my Pinterest with my mom, Rosie, so we have a ridiculous amount of pins. The ones that start with Rosie are hers and I am starting to think pinning is her full time job. Just visit my board!
I encourage you to share with me your ideas for advocacy within your school district. Please email me what you do that is unique and I will share with others! Please email me your advocacy tricks within your school district to firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage you to "Light yourself on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles around to watch you burn!"
Below are some useful resources that can help you be a leader and an advocate for art education:
National Art Education Association includes accessible resources that are print quality:
Position statements from National Art Education Association:
Arts Education Partnership (http://www.aep-arts.org)
AEP is a national coalition of more than 100 education, arts, business, cultural, government, and philanthropic organizations. AEP was established in 1995 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). The site includes the following resources:
This is a searchable clearinghouse of the latest state policies supporting education in and through the arts from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. You will find not only policy language excerpted directly from each state’s education policies, but also information on state-level surveys of arts education and a set of descriptive education indicators.
Research in this section examines the academic, cognitive, personal, social, and civic outcomes for students of arts education. This section includes studies of arts education programs that take place during school as well as those that take place out-of-school.
The ArtsEd Digest (www.aep-arts.org/resources-2/artsed-digest)
AEP’s twice-monthly e-newsletter. The ArtsEd Digest gives over 4,000 subscribers easy access to vital and timely news and information about arts and education from our partners and from the field, including new research, programs, events, and job opportunities.