WAEA winter 2014 e-times article – Julie Miller VP NE Region
One definition of creativity describes it as the ability to make new connections between things. How fitting then to have the theme – Art Connects Us – to describe the meeting of so many creative minds at the WAEA 2014 fall conference.
Art teachers are famous for developing innovations and finding alternative uses for just about anything. Most of the small appliances in my house have found their way to my classroom. I don’t know about you, but in my world, hair dryers dry paintings, toaster ovens melt shrinky dinks, blenders make paper pulp, and salad spinners make abstract paintings.
Art innovations based on new connections to materials, people and processes were abundant at the fall conference. The workshop I presented with my art teacher buddy, Tricia Evers, focused on using old tools in new ways, or hammers in the art room. The photographs show teachers engaged in a little hammer time. Another workshop called “slow looking” challenged participants to discuss art with students on a deeper more challenging level. Working with glass mosaics on 3D forms instead of flat surfaces was the process suggested by a pair of experienced glass artists. Another team of teachers presented collaborating across the curriculum with art, English, and math through a single project. Putting a new twist on Zentangle designs in the classroom by using different colors and materials was the hands on focus of another session.
The list of innovations goes on and on. There was something valuable to be learned no matter what workshops conference attendees were a part of. Being exposed to how other art educators do things allows us all to take a closer look at what we do in the classroom and put new life into our methods and lessons. It doesn’t have to be something earth shattering that has never been done before. Simple ideas and tweaks to what we are already doing can make a big difference in student learning.
My favorite comment on the workshop we gave was simply that this is what art was all about – experimenting with materials and having fun. The standards were imbedded in what we were doing, but the most obvious thing in the room was the joy of creating. I hope to be able to continue that pure joy and enthusiasm with my students.
West Central VP
In September, I was invited to attend the National Arts Forum on Arts Education Partnerships in Pittsburgh. This forum was alive with celebrating the arts and focusing on making it a priority to dedicate a high-quality arts education for every young person. It is known that the arts can turn around low performing schools. Arts education can help close the achievement gap and increase teacher retention and engagement. Guest speaker, Dr. Jane Chu, Chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts highlighted her message, “art exists for beauty itself.” As art educators, we know we need to keep the arts infused, and students engaged and empowered. We want all students to be fluent in all art media. The arts are not a frill, but a necessity. Another Keynote speaker, Bill Strickland, President and CEO of the nonprofit Manchester Bidwell Corp. and author of Make the Impossible Possible, was highly inspiring. His message continues to fill my head and heart. We are responsible for teaching the heart of what the arts are. It is the art that all our cities collaborate and connect upon across our nation. Bill Strickland’s vision is that every child, every day should create, learn, and perform…for it is “Art” that cures the cancer of the soul. Embracing and engaging in the arts closes the opportunity gap for student success. Engaging in the arts will only impact our daily existence. His message—don’t just advocate for resources, advocate to change the time we can be creative within our daily schedule.
Creative Thinking. Critical Thinking. Communication Skills. Collaboration Skills. Perseverance Skills. Studio Habits of Mind. Digital Image Transfer. Ingenuity. Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB). Inclusive Arts Practice. Visual Journaling, Drawing Interventions. SLO’s. All of these topics and so many more filled two whole days for me at this year’s WAEA Fall Conference. I came away with innovative ideas, the desire to try new (and incorporate old) media in my classroom and came away feeling renewed and inspired. I walked back into my studio ready to pass on the new “creative art spill” with my students. It is my desire to be surrounded by my students who are full of curious delight. I welcome in “the stirring” to facilitate authentic art experiences. In a time when we are forced to write student learner outcomes, keep in sight what we do that matters most, each and every day. Trust the creative process! Let arts-rich experiences arrive in you and through you! Continue to engage and motivate your students through the creative processes that builds bridges and connects us all.
As Art teachers we frequently find ourselves alone on an island—stuck in the basement, in a different building or separated from our like-minded colleagues. The annual fall WAEA conference is a time for rejoicing, having fun, collaborating, and most importantly, a time for learning and growing. This year’s conference has been all of those for me. The sessions this year were amazing and helped me connect with other art teachers as well as helped me connect with my students.
The session, “Resources to Support Students with Disabilities” was great. This session offered great insight into research-based practices of special needs art education, online resources, adaptive tools, and ideas for providing the optimal learning environment for our students. The instructor really made me think about how I connect with my students who need adaptations to learn the same material as everyone else. She provided me with ideas on how to make printmaking safer for the students who have spasms, ticks, and involuntary hand movements. Since going to this session, I have been researching different types of scissors to aid in the development of the cutting skills of my students. By far, the best adaptation she provided me with was the idea for creating different “grips” for those students who have a difficult time grasping tools.
My favorite session and the session that I believe exemplifies the theme of this year’s conference was “Branding Your Art Room.” This session delved deep into how we as art teachers are perceived, how our room and curriculum is perceived, what we want our art department to look like, and ways to project the image we envision for our program. The presenter opened up about how he changed the “image” of how others perceived his program. He showed techniques, ideas, and ways to establish credibility with our school community and how to make our “brand” appealing to the students, administrators, and the community. He talked about how our brand as an art teacher can help develop a culture of creative worth. I think that everyone who attended the conference that has ever had a struggle with the promotion and credibility or the importance of the arts should take a look at what this session had to offer. The presentation is available on the WAEA Google drive folder for the conference.
https://drive.google.com/a/portage.k12.wi.us/folderview?id=0B7DxImD2zQfmek1mNnJPRERWQTg&usp=sharing#. This session will help all of us show our colleagues, administrators, students, and even community members why the arts are important and what we as art teachers stand for.
Information Coming Soon
Information Coming Soon
Bergstrom - Mahler Museum of Glass
January 1th - January 25th
Reception January 11th, 2-4 pm
Heider Center for the Arts, West Salem
February 1st - 9th
Reception February 19th, 6-7:30 pm
Bayshore Town Center Rotunda, Milwaukee
January 30th - Febuary 6th
Reception Information Coming Soon
University of Baraboo, Sauk County
January 10th - 17th
Reception January 17th, 1-3pm