Category Archives: conference

What is your goal?

Several very busy days have passed since, but I don’t want to lose the opportunity to acknowledge and reflect upon the fall art teacher in-service.

There is nothing more exhilarating than a back-to-school kickoff event with over 300 art teachers in one place! Now, before you conclude that I must have a very boring life, let me clarify. I don’t mean exhilarating like when you ride a roller coaster or something like that — but having this many like-minded professional educators in one place just before the start of the school year does create an atmosphere where the excitement and anticipation are palpable. And this year, everyone was feeling a little extra enthusiasm because we arranged to meet at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

We were able to take care of business in a general session, had an excellent presentation from our hosts (Thank you, Briana and Elizabeth!), provided opportunities for collaborative teams to meet, and had some much valued time in the galleries.

The day before the in-service, I asked a question of one of my colleagues who was preparing for her own teacher meeting.

What is your goal?

I think I asked this question for myself as much as any reason. Our in-services are only a short half-day and our big opportunity to influence the direction for the whole coming school year within our discipline. Many times in the past I have felt overwhelmed with the number of topics that I felt too important not to address during the meeting, but the reality is most teachers will come away with just one or two ideas they will really carry into their classroom.

With this realization, I have tried to focus these professional development days, and design them with one goal. By happy coincendence, the presentation from the museum staff reflected this line of thinking for teachers. The session was organized first by asking the teachers to consider what type of people they want their students to be in the future, then connecting to those ideas through the discussion activities, and encouraging the teachers to consider their goals for their students as they interacted with the exhibitions.

So, what was my goal?

I kept it simple this year. My goal was for teachers to feel inspired and excited for the new year. Spending time with the art teachers certainly motivated me, and I hope they found some inspiration in the activities and artworks they encountered at the museums!

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Expectations

I have had the privilege of attending our local leadership conferences for years and have always felt that it was a shame that all teachers in the division couldn’t be there to hear the message that would drive so many decisions in the coming year. That feeling is compounded when we have a new superintendent. It may not compare, but I hope some of you can appreciate those messages shared here through my mental filter. 

Photo borrowed from @ehmukai on Twitter

Dr. Brabrand shared his expectations of all of us. Not just the leaders in the audience, but every last employee of the school system. His expectations are:

  1. Love kids
  2. Love teaching
  3. Be professional 

LOVE KIDS

Even those employees who don’t work with kids must love kids. Kids are why we are here. 

LOVE TEACHING

I especially appreciate that he clarified that this means loving learning as well. Teachers must love and seek out opportunities to learn more about teaching to continually improve their craft. 

BE PROFESSIONAL

Dr. B has a high standard for professionalism. He will hold us to that standard, and he expects us to hold him to that standard as well. We are role models for kids!

Check out the first Leadership Conference post for more. 

Art and Our New Superintendent

A Leadership Conference marks the beginning of each new school year for the school and central office administrators in our school system. This year’s conference was our first real opportunity to hear from our new superintendent, Dr. Scott Brabrand

https://www.fcps.edu/news/fairfax-county-school-board-confirms-scott-brabrand-fcps-superintendent
One of the prominent ideas he spoke about was mindset, which he illustrated with a personal art example. Dr. Brabrand shared his efforts to challenge his own mindset regarding his drawing ability. Any artist or art teacher has probably had to listen politely to hundreds of people explaining that they can’t draw. (Read a related post HERE.) Dr. Brabrand recognized his own mindset on his ability and set out to challenge it. 

First, he spent 15 minutes drawing a cat, with unimpressive results. Then he asked an art teacher to help him for one hour, and drew another cat. This time, the results were quite impressive. With only an hour of instruction, he was able to grow from a child-like line drawing, to a well-defined, natural form of a cat including value, shading, and texture. Well done, sir!

So what’s the point?! 

As educators we must consider our own mindset around teaching and learning. That means we must, first, recognize our mindset, and second, be willing to challenge and change that mindset. We cannot expect to be successful, as educators, if we don’t believe in the human ability to learn. And we won’t meet our mandate to reach every child if we have anything less than this growth mindset for each and everyone of our students. 

If you’re interested in reading more about mindset, check out these posts:

David Driskell

Eloquent speaker, Dr. David Driskell, called on his audience — the art educators of the National Art Education Association — to evaluate our role and the role of art education in the 21st Century.

His vast experience in education from attending a segregated high school in the South, to receiving many honorary degrees and a National Humanities Medal from President Clinton (among many other honors), he reminds us that while progress has been made we have much work to do. 

Dr. Driskell and his audience share the core belief that art resides at the core of human existence. It is not only for the wealthy and elite but for all, no matter their social or economic status. 

Art educators must continue to work toward equitable arts education opportunities for all children, no matter their zip code, and to ensure the curriculum is inclusive of artists who reflect the diversity of our world. 

Support for Arts Integration 

“As the only school system with its own arts integration office” Prince George’s County Public Schools presented their progress and successes in bringing arts integration to all of its 208 schools. 


This is work in progress, but student engagement and test scores are improving — and the work is continuing. One reason for its success is the degree of support this effort is receiving. Evidence of the support is here in the room. Elizabeth Stuart, the visual art supervisor, is joined by division leaders including Amy Rosenkrans, Executive Coordinator for Arts Integration, John Ceschini, Arts Integration Officer, and their Chief Executive Officer (superintendent) Dr. Kevin Maxwell. 

You read that right! The superintendent from a large Maryland school district came to NYC to help present this work to art educators. 

Emerging Themes

Each year I look forward to the Emerging Themes presentation from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. 


As a long time regional coordinator for the Scholastic Art Awards, I feel a deep connection to this program and would not miss the opportunity to see a big picture look at the trends that can be seen by looking at artwork from young artists across the country. 

Some of the themes and subjects that were seen in great numbers include:

  • Whimsy & fantasy (imagination, childhood)
  • Gender & identity (sexuality, gender definitions, self-image)
  • Home & family (food, cultur, generations, relationships)
  • Technology (impact of technology, gaming, relationship to technology)

A couple of categories were featured as well including Film & Animation and Future New where students were just as likely to address powerful themes like those above and: race, bullying, personality, safe spaces, and immigration. 

If you want to learn more about the Scholastic Awards, check out their website at artandwriting.org