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If most of your professional development sessions take place in a conference room with white walls or in someone’s art room with a million distractions and uncomfortable stools, you aren’t alone! These are the most common venues for PD, and they can be quite uninspiring. When my art department started to get restless with ‘status quo’ Professional Development, we decided to shake it up a little and get off of the school campus and out into the community. “In our own backyard” was our PD theme for the entire year. It was one of the most informative and fun things we could have done and really bonded us as a K-12 department
Our local architecture organization conducted downtown tours. All we had to do was sign up and pay a nominal fee. A retired architect walked us thorough our own city and talked about architectural highlights and the history behind the buildings as well. We were able to take this information directly into our classrooms to teach students about our city!
If any of your team members are practicing artists with a studio, pay them a visit! We visited a high school teacher’s downtown studio, and learned more about this person in 30 minutes than we ever knew before. It’s a great way for team members to come out of their shells and feel valued as professionals.
Do you ever go to the museum without your students, but with an eye for education? Consider using your time as a team to visit a local museum. While there, you can plan projects, connect with a museum educator, and brainstorm critiques. This will make your next museum field trip more structured and meaningful for your students.
Watching someone else teach is a powerful thing! As a department, we split up and each observed different schools one morning. Observations ranged from a Montessori school to a TAB classroom, to classes in a district with very similar expectations to ours. Teachers were really excited to come back and share what they saw.
Create a scavenger hunt of local galleries in your area, and divy up your art teachers to walk though them. Teachers can report on the artwork, get contacts for local artists to visit the classroom and also create a handout to give to students who may want to explore local galleries.
Of course, you will want to have some really solid action steps of how you will connect this to teaching and learning so your administration supports you. Not fun, but you know how it is, we always have to prove ourselves in art ed – the art is rarely enough!
I hope these ideas help get you thinking about PD in a new way, especially if you are charged with planning your own. Mr. E (from Art With Mr. E) is back this winter to share his own ideas for “Teacher Led PD” at the AOE 2015 Winter Online Conference on January 31st! So, if you want even more ideas, in addition to this list, be sure to sign up for the conference!
Where do you usually hold PD sessions? Is the environment educationally stimulating or a total drag?
What venues in your area could you visit with your team?