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.