Greetings from the DPI
Julie Palkowski, Fine Arts and Creativity Education Consultant
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
A New Age of Professional Development.
Educators by nature are coaches supporting the learning of others. They are versed in multiple ways of encouraging students and engaging them through activities which support the development of skills and knowledge in a concept. For their own growth, educators have often relied on journals, conferences, on-site workshops, face to face professional learning communities, and district driven sessions. These opportunities continue today, but there is an additional option that offers educators a way to personalize their own professional growth - online professional development. Online options are plentiful and share a warehouse of resources on a topic of interest and in many cases ways to connect with others who also wish to learn about a specific topic.
Online professional development (PD) sites are unique in their structures, ease of use, purpose, and content.
Many online professional development options offer some incredibly interactive and engaging resources to inform, inspire, and connect. Finding the online options that work best for you may take some time. Consider the following characteristics as you review various PD websites for your learning: (Five Great Professional Development Sites, 2014)
The recipe is simple. Take your passion for teaching art, mix in people from other areas of your building, district and state, and offer collaboration and stories. You will be on the first rung of creating a partnership with those that matter.
My Building “Peeps”
The beginning of my summer consisted of an eight-day venture to Matagulpa and Managua in Nicaragua to work with several government schools. Four, Spanish-speaking classroom teachers and I worked with Nicaraguan classroom teachers and high school scholarship students on techniques to use in reading and math. My job was to show how the visual arts boost those areas using natural resources. What began as an authentic art learning experience for those Nicaraguan students, became an advocacy experience with my coworkers. The presence of my coworkers during my lessons showed them how I teach, the artistic process, the learning that occurs in art, and how other subjects can be interjected in and connected to that process. They were amazed at my session. Not because I am some superstar, but because they really did not know WHAT I did in the classroom. There was a great deal of respect cultivated in a short amount of time that made me understand that we as art educators need to educate our coworkers on what we really do!
I was lucky to have a professor that insisted that we sign up for WAEA because the National Conference was in Chicago that year. Seemed rational. Little did I know that I would be on the board from 2004-present, with a short sabbatical to take care of family. I was the West Central Regional Representative, the Membership Chair, Elementary Representative, and then I hosted the 2010 conference in La Crosse, and now I am back as Co-President Elect. My point is that leadership is in all of us. We are teachers and therefore natural leaders. The thing is, we do not all possess the same type of leadership styles. YOU may not consider yourself an extrovert, yet you may possess the very thing that our organization needs. You may need to grow into your roll like I am doing. There is no way I could have done this six years ago. If you are interested in becoming a leader, forging the way OR quietly working, then you might be a perfect fit for our WAEA board! There are many levels of involvement and I am certain that there is a perfect fit for you. Just send me an email or see me at the conference. I would love to share ideas, advocate for you or help you get on your way to state leadership.
The Next Level
There is nothing more fun than connecting with friends and like-minded people. That is what our fall conference is all about—energizing, collaborating and seeing new possibilities. Now take that and magnify it by 1000. That is what it is like to become a regional/national representative. As an executive board member, I am able to attend the National Conferences and participate as Delegate for the State of Wisconsin. While also attending the regional summer workshops and leadership conferences, I’m able to connect with all my friends at the state and national levels, which gives me a good idea of what is happening in other pockets of our country. Attending the regional meeting gives a snapshot of what is to come and sometimes shows other states what may be coming their way. Taking a national role gives me a big picture of how to lead our state while keeping the issues and talking points of our Wisconsin members in mind.
This past July, NAEA offered the first Leadership Conference with state leaders in Santa Fe, New Mexico. NAEA focused on advocacy and leadership as a component of our teaching. I came away with a great sense of pride knowing that a majority of our school principals nation-wide see art educators as the center of the school AND as leaders (Crayola survey). Do you see yourself in this role? Leadership does not have to be a big role or even a time consuming brain drain. I use my advocacy and leadership in a fun playful way in our school. When our students are learning something new, I share that with the grade level teachers. When I see a spark of interest or inquiry, I set a play date after school to show/teach them how to do what their children are doing. This has been a great advocacy tool in my building. I got to have fun connecting with the classroom teachers and they thought what the children were doing was really interesting. What happened is similar to the Nicaragua experience; my staff became aware of the time it took to prepare and set up the project, to demonstrate and explain an authentic experience and the time it took to ‘make’ good work.
My goal is to have six of these afterschool play dates with staff, one for each grade level this school year. It builds community, and guess what? You will be helping to create that community! You will become the go-to person in the building. Art will slowly become the center of learning in your school and they will seek you out for ideas. Authentic ideas. Take the lead and show them the importance of having certified art educators teaching art. Have fun and let me know how it goes! Not sure where to start? I would love to help start this or something similar.
Look for more information on our WAEA Facebook page as I post throughout the school year.
Steal my ideas and have fun! In doing this you will become a natural leader and advocate for your program.
I recently returned from an NAEA leadership conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico titled, "The Artistry of Leadership." In many ways the conference was like any other professional development conference—motivational, informative, and team building. We heard from many distinguished and exemplary people over the course of two days, one of these incredible people being William F. Baker, Ph.D.
Baker, who has spent his career in television, directs the Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Education, and Public Policy at Fordham University. He is also Journalist-in-Residence and a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham. He is a distinguished professor at IESE Business School and is President Emeritus of WNET, New York’s public media station and the premiere source of PBS programs nationwide. Dr. Baker has been a broadcaster, executive, author, sought-after public speaker, and academic for close to four decades. He has co-authored the books, Every Leader is an Artist (McGraw Hill, 2012) and Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results (American Management Association, 2008). Baker also hosted the PBS documentary Leading with Kindness, which premiered on public television in 2008.
Needless to say he was more than qualified to speak to us about the values of leadership in the arts. What I learned most from Dr. Baker's keynote is the following—artists and educators have power to shape society. More power, perhaps, than any other professionals in society. His reasoning was that artists, by virtue of their characteristics, see the world differently and therefore perhaps see the big picture. He sited other attributes including how artists work for an audience, affect lives profoundly, motivate and support, learn through practice, turn vision into reality, and draw from themselves and who they are daily (depth of self).
As an art educator, I can no longer see a divide between being an artist and being an educator. They both serve the core of why the arts are so very important in learning, thinking, and doing. Baker eloquently put forth in his book, "every leader is an artist." I would add that every artist is a leader who not only advocates in everything he or she does but also models the habits of mind and processes that Baker was talking about when he cited the powerful attributes artists possess that make them powerful in society.
Advocacy, by definition, is support for a particular cause. Leadership allows us to not only show that support but advocate in ways that support the growth and development within our professional communities. As we face new challenges with data collection and standards in teaching we have the opportunity to lead and advocate. We can lead by collaborating. We can lead through kindness. We lead can through finding new ways to accomplish goals. All the while keeping in sight what we value most as a whole.
WAEA Past President
Over the past few years I have learned that the key to advocating is to have a plan. What is it that you want to accomplish on a short-term or long-term basis? As an educator, it is easy to talk about our profession in a passionate way, however, who is your target audience? In what way(s) will you be delivering your message?
These are things that I continue to think about when advocating or promoting my art department at Sheboygan North High School (nhsartdept.wordpress.com). When I transferred to North in 2006, I noticed that students, staff and administration had a vague understanding of what art education looked like. There was a misconception that I knew I had to do something about.
When I became the art department chair I knew I had the perfect opportunity to make a difference. A change that would open eyes, tackle misconceptions, and broaden their understanding of how involved art education is inside today’s classroom. I began with the most accessible thing we have and that is to document student work. These images were used on my classroom blog, press releases, social media and so on. Next, came creating opportunities to showcase my students’ work in the community.
In order to create an awareness of what you are doing inside your art room you need content. Content can range from still images, video, student writings to articles. Once you have your content, then you need to establish your mode of delivery. However, you need to regulate how frequently you send out this information. I always approach it with an educational tone. My goal is to engage, educate and expose my audience on all of the cool things that are happening in the art department, such as, student exhibitions, artist lecture series, artist-in-residence programs, accolades, articles and so on.
I believe in sharing art-related news in three ways. I use my classroom blog, our facebook page and our school newspaper—Raider Report. This allows me to reach my audience in three different ways. The key to this is to do it on a consistent basis. It does help to have a schedule to determine when releasing information is appropriate.
What I have learned is not so much as to what you promote via advocacy, but how you promote what you advocate that will make a difference.
Today, I run a successful art program that not only educates the importance of art education, but also informs students, teachers, and administrators that the art department is a resource. We pride ourselves in problem solving and thinking outside the box. This has allowed us to show others that we do not only make art, but also think about how our art contributes to the world we live in.
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.