It’s another day of professional development in your district, and getting it to actually be applicable to your own classroom is a Sisyphean task. You have the PE teacher to your left and the music teacher to your right. Don’t get me wrong–they’re great people; their needs and your needs don’t line up, however, and the three of you are just making of it what you can. If you’re a stand alone art department, there’s just no way to collaborate with other art teachers in terms of traditional professional development. Even if you could, the fact remains that most of it won’t be relevant.
The sad reality is that it can be tough to make meaningful professional connections and find worthwhile development opportunities. Too often, as art teachers, we are left high and dry. It’s difficult to sustain a thriving, vibrant program without inspiration. So, when you are left on your own, what can you do to help yourself with your personal growth, ideation, and professional development?
1. Join Social Media
A lot of people love to connect with other art teachers via social media; Twitter is my personal favorite, and a lot of teachers swear by Instagram. And if you’re a Facebook person, you can make connections somewhere amongst the plethora of great groups to join.
2. Read Blogs
For me, my biggest source of inspiration comes from reading about what other art teachers are doing all over the country. Reading about and seeing all of the creative ideas taking place makes me reflect on what I do and also try a lot of things in my classroom that I may not be willing to do otherwise.
There are quite a few ways to discover new blogs (I’d personally start with AOE’s Blog of the Year contest), and plenty of great reads out there. And if you get too overwhelmed with all of the sites you want to check out, there is a great way to organize everything you read online.
3. Take Classes
Some teachers take classes because they are required by their district for professional growth, some take them because they are working toward a graduate degree, and others take them because they are interested in becoming a better teacher. If any of these are the case for you, I would encourage you to take a look at AOE’s Course Offerings. There is a huge variety offered in terms of classes, and you should be able to find something that fits your interests or your needs. Participants always walk away bursting with new ideas to try in their classrooms.
4. Join Professional Associations
Whether at the state or the national level, there are so many development opportunities offered through Art Education Associations or Art Teachers Associations. There are state conventions, and sometimes even local workshops or get-togethers where art teachers share ideas and lessons. Nationally, NAEA of course, has their annual convention, but throughout the year they have online seminars, writing opportunities, and a plethora of other opportunities.
Even in the last ten years, the sheer amount of information and connections available to art teachers has increased dramatically. So next time you’re sitting at a table with the music and PE teachers during your district’s PD day, take solace in the fact that better options are out there.
How do you make connections that help your own professional development? Share your Twitter handle, Instagram, or favorite Facebook page below!
Have you taken any AOE Classes? Which ones would you recommend?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.