Professional Practice

Stay Sharp at Conferences This Year With Brain Breaks

planner with "conferences" written down

Participation in parent-teacher conferences is an absolute necessity for art teachers. Nothing can match the advocacy power of speaking directly with parents about your art program and their student’s art-making practice. But, that experience can also be nerve-wracking and exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Parent-teacher conferences are a marathon, not a sprint.

Parent-teacher conferences frequently occur after teachers have already been teaching for hours. Additionally, individual conferences necessitate art teachers remember a myriad of information including hundreds of student names, rubric scores, and anecdotal information about activities within the art room. That can be a lot to manage after a full workday!

It’s common knowledge, providing a brain break is an excellent strategy for our students to help them stay sharp and focused on the task at hand. Why wouldn’t this be true for adults as well?!

So, this year, we have put together a series of art teacher “Bingo Board Brain Breaks” to give your spirits a lift on conference day!

Brain Breaks for Humor

Humor is an excellent tool for diffusing difficult or stressful situations. Nothing lightens the mood and refocuses your energy like a smile or a quick laugh. Intuitively, we know using humor as an educational strategy creates an environment more conducive to learning for our students. Brain research also supports this understanding. In his book, Brain-Compatible Strategies, neuro-researcher Eric Jensen asserts, “Having laughter breaks in class increases the flow of positive neurotransmitters, which are necessary for alertness and memory.”

The same is true for teachers! Use our humorous conference “Brain Break Bingo” download to bond with a colleague in between conferences. Don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy our tongue-in-cheek Bingo card with a friend. The first person to get five in a row wins and reaps the additional brain benefits of humor!

funny bingo board

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Brain Breaks for Productivity

Taking a break can help our students relax, reflect, and refocus. But, did you know recent research also seems to suggest taking a brain break increases future productivity? A University of Illinois psychology professor, Alejandro Lleras, was interviewed by Science Daily about a study he co-authored for the journal, Cognition. This research explored how the brain reacts when given a break from prolonged tasks. Lleras says, “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”

So, investigate simple ways to provide brain breaks that will help you and your students be most productive. And, if you want to be more focused and productive throughout your parent-teacher conferences, consider playing “Art Advocacy Bingo!” Each of the activities on the board takes just a few minutes to complete and can offer your brain an easy, but professionally relevant, way to recharge mid-conference.

bingo brain break

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Whether you choose to focus on humor or productivity, challenge yourself to complete a few squares of Bingo over the course of your upcoming parent-teacher conferences. See how a little self-care can positively impact your professional experience. BINGO!

What brain breaks do you like to use for yourself and your students?

What other tips do you have for de-stressing during parent-teacher conferences?

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.


Lindsey Moss

Lindsey Moss, an elementary school art educator, is AOEU’s Content Specialist and a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys art history and finding creative and fun solutions to educational challenges.

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