Professional Learning

The Biggest Complaint We Receive About AOEU Classes

When you first register for any type of class or workshop, one of the big questions you have is about the workload: Will this be a joke? Will it be a bunch of tests and papers? Will it be worth my time? Will I learn something new? Will it have a bunch of busy work? Shudder.


My own personal gripe about PD is that it often fails to connect to the audience in a meaningful way.


PD ranges from way too “highbrow” all the way down to an unstructured sharing session that feels unproductive. I know you’ve sat through both, just like I have, and neither feels great. But luckily, neither of these are complaints we hear about AOEU classes. Whew!


The biggest complaint we get from AOEU class participants makes me happy.

Happy? You might ask. About a complaint? Yep.

One of the only complaints we hear with our classes is:

“This class was more rigorous than I thought it would be.”

“This was more work than other grad classes I’ve taken.”


Do you know why the word rigorous makes me so happy? It’s because unlike most PD situations, when you take an AOEU class, “rigor” does not mean boring, tedious or impractical. We’ve worked tirelessly to design classes that hit the perfect sweet spot where your rigorous work is transformed into innovative and practical tools for your classroom that you will actually use. This is why Morningside University and the Higher Learning Commission proudly provide AOEU Classes with such a high level of accreditation.

We receive the following question often. “Are there any long tedious papers to write?” An art teacher’s nightmare, right? No, not a single one!

Of course, there are many different types of written responses and assignments, but none of them are dry, and they’re all super relevant to your actual classroom.

Let me give you an example.

In our “Designing Your Art Curriculum Class,” students don’t just look at a curriculum sample and copy it… and they won’t be asked to write a 20-page paper on the history and philosophy of curriculum development in art education, either.


Instead, students become researchers, putting together the puzzle of curriculum with a wide variety of resources at their disposal. Our instructors review their work, offer feedback and help them craft a curriculum of their dreams. Yes, there is a lot of work involved, but it’s so gratifying because you can go into your artroom and use the planning matrixes to keep you organized immediately after the class has concluded.


Here is what an actual participant in our curriculum class said:

“The course really broke down what seemed like a daunting task in the beginning into a relatively easy thing to do. It is still a lot of work, but now I feel like I have the knowledge and resources to go forward and finish the rest of my curriculum.” – Megan B.

On a more personal level, whenever we get the occasional critique that our classes are ‘rigorous’, it never gets me down. Because I know the truth, and our 99% satisfaction rate doesn’t lie. The truth is, as long as the content is ‘ridiculously relevant’, ‘rigor’ simply means ‘substantial’ and ‘time well spent on great learning and useful projects.’

You know, our natural human instinct is to edit ourselves to resolve any complaint we receive right away, but this time, I am not jumping to make a change. Why? From this experience, I’ve learned that critique doesn’t have to be negative, and, in fact, it can be quite revealing (for better or for worse!).

I hope you will take the chance to try a class for yourself. If you are unsure if the accreditation will work in your state or district, we can help! Give us a call or text at 515-650-3198.



Have you taken an AOEU Class? How would you describe the experience? 

How does it compare to other PD in which you have participated?



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.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

More from Jessica