AOE Winter 2016 Online Conference Recap



Yesterday, January 30th, was The Art of Education’s sixth online conference! Can you believe it?! With a record number of attendees registered (2,100+), the day was jam-packed with three special Featured Presenters as well as dozens of incredibly relevant topics curated to match the needs of educators just like you– art teachers!


Let’s not forget that SWAG box this year! It was our fullest (and heaviest) one yet!

In order to give you a complete recap of all the conference details, we broke down the day’s experiences, reactions, and feedback into four themes.

1. You Were INSPIRED

Inspiration flowed from not only the conference presentations themselves but from all parts of social media. Hundreds of art teachers on the chat roll created a community of support, generated ideas, and encouraged other attendees through personal examples and experiences. It’s amazing to see how the AOE community interacts with each other through digital platforms all over the world. Twitter was on fire with everyone tweeting their observations of the day- especially examples of their sketches inspired by presenter Danny Gregory. It was clear the experience was incredibly authentic, meaningful, and truly inspiring!

collage of sketches from conference participants
Photos from @MercyArtDept, @sceart1, @b_wanhill, @marla819, and @pamelaskehan.


Of course, Faith Ringgold‘s talk inspired so many of us to remember why we became art teachers in the first place. Her words captured attendees’ hearts around the world and moved many of us to tears.


Here is a sampling of viewers’ reactions to Faith’s inspirational message.

“So inspired by her words of wisdom…not just for teaching, but for life.” – Mary

“Faith Ringgold! On #AOEConference! ‘Don’t show them your work. Inspire them to do their own work!’ Giddy with joy.”  – Margaret

“How cool to hear words of wisdom from the wonderful @FaithRinggold!!! So inspirational!” – Abby

“Faith Ringgold, you gave me a piece of advice that changed my life…thank you” – Lee

2. You Embody CREATIVITY

This conference featured a number of presenters that challenged our notion of creativity within our classrooms and within our own lives as well. Perhaps no one did this better than presenter Barney Salzburg, author of Beautiful Oops, when he taught viewers how to teach their students the value of making mistakes.


Take a peek at a few Instagram posts that show how art teachers are always pushing their creative minds- even while participating in a conference! Taking photos, taking notes, and sketching–all in a creative day’s work for an art teacher!

collage of Instagram photos from conference participants
Photos from newtonn1, leepost, tracimaturo_illustration, and art bonnie.



As art teachers, innovation in our classrooms is always something we strive for. Whether we are innovative with our technology use, our classroom management plans, or even our instructional strategies, it’s always a good thing to try something new. So many of us were exposed to ideas that we can’t wait to implement in our own classrooms. Watching the excitement for new ideas on social media was invigorating!




4. You Feel VALUED

Today, art teachers were not an afterthought.

As art teachers, sometimes (ok, most times) we feel we left out of professional development opportunities. This is not the case with AOE online conferences! This conference is FOR YOU! Take a peek at what some of our attendees had to say about the relevant presentations, unbeatable swag box, and collaborative community of AOE conference viewers.

Enjoying my #swagbox from @theartofed, while hanging out at home doing the #aoeconference ??❤️

A photo posted by Natalie (@nataliesaurus) on

“This winter swag box is amazing! I’ve been to the past three conferences but this one looks like the best of all!!! Thanks for all AOE does, it’s helped me through my first two years of teaching elementary!” – Morgan

Thank you so very much for everything. First timer here and it was above and beyond my expectations!”- Heather

“@jessicabalsley Thanks, needed to hear that. In yr. 4 and feeling a bit of teacher burnout. Today has been re-energizing. #aoeconference”- Lenea

“I often go to the NAEA Conference. I was a little dubious about the online conference idea, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I am so glad I did! Gotta say–This A of E conference is incredible! I’d recommend it for every art teacher. I am still in my pajamas, and I’ve gotten more out of this one day than in several days at a “conventional” conference. The content is fabulous and the pace is so quick. No traipsing from room to room, no waiting for folks to get seated, no exhaustion. And I love that my “swag” was delivered right to my door by the USPS. Well done Art of Ed!”- Carol

“Loved this conference. I was happy it had more upper-level presentations. Those are the best for me. AOE is great inspiration to what we all want to be, which is, the best art teachers we can be!” – Jill

“This was my first AOE Conference, but it surely won’t be my last! I was blown away with the guest speakers, the fabulous lessons and art tips, and the SWAG box of goodies was like Christmas in a box. Thank you for inspiring and motivating me! I can’t wait to share the many ideas I learned with my fellow art teachers in my district!” – Patty


“This was my 5th AOE conference. I’ve watched in my bed, while doing laundry, while making art, while eating, on the balcony, by the pool, and even on the treadmill! Not only is the conference the only relevant PD I’ve ever experienced, but it’s the only PD I can participate in on my own time, in my own space, and in my own way!” – Rachel

 “It is wonderful to get a shot in the arm once in a while to remind you why art is so wonderful. Yes, you share your passion with your students but most teachers are not coming from your mindset. It is great to sit back and watch crazier people than yourself and know you are not alone in your excitement and appreciation. Thank you SO much!” – Pam


We Appreciate YOU

As Jessica mentioned in the closing of the conference, it was an honor and privilege to bring you this professional development experience. We are inspired by our readers’ dedication, willingness, and belief that spending time on yourself for professional development is never time wasted. We appreciate you!

See you in July for the Summer 2016 Online Conference!

What was your favorite part about the Winter 2016 Online Conference? 

Is there anything we can do to make the next conference even better?

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.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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