Professional Learning

Looking Beyond Art Ed for Purposeful Professional Development

palette and keyboard

About a year ago, I was locked in a small, office-sized room with seven other teachers who all taught science and math. We were in this room because we were trying to “find a vaccine to save the world from the Zombie Apocalypse.” What? Isn’t that how you spend your PD time, too?

The experience, called a BreakoutEDU, was part of a technology conference I was attending. After 15 minutes, we had successfully “saved the world” and were let out of the room. I had never felt so inspired to bring a conference idea back to my classroom!

Although there are tons of amazing PD offerings for art teachers these days (like the newest, Art Ed PRO!), there are many other avenues to explore.

In fact, you shouldn’t be afraid to look beyond the world of art education to find engaging PD. Here are 3 tips to do just that.


1. Seek out opportunities that interest you.

It probably doesn’t make sense to attend your state’s math conference, but consider an area, other than art, where you feel you could grow. Is it classroom management? Technology? Serving students with special needs? There are many avenues that could inspire you to try new strategies in your classroom,

2. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

As I said, the amazing BreakoutEDU experience I had came while I was at a technology conference. While the conference wasn’t advertised as being for certain subject areas, most of the sessions had nothing to do with art. In fact, that particular experience was really geared toward math and science teachers. Still, I was able to see the value in the activity and found a way to make it work for me and my students. If you’re feeling like you need a challenge, attending PD outside of art ed might be just what you’re looking for!

palette and keyboard

3. Look for opportunities in your local community.

Of course, you can seek PD online in the form of conferences, courses, and on-demand trainings, but sometimes you want an in-person option. To find it, try looking to your local community.

 Here are several places to check out:

  • A local library
  • A local community college
  • Different state education associations
  • University workshops
  • Museum workshops

What’s more, sometimes looking to another subject area is as easy as heading down the hall! By observing other teachers in your own school you can pick up new tips and strategies, no matter the subject area. Discovering the way another teacher passes out papers or organizes their pencils could be a valuable resource to take with you to the art room!

Remember the goal of any PD is to make you a better teacher. Don’t be afraid to open the door a little wider and step out of the world of art ed. You never know what you might discover!

What kind of professional development do you participate in?

Other than art ed experiences, what do you find PD opportunities?

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.


Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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