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.