2023 Winter NOW Conference Preview (Ep. 353)

The Winter NOW Conference is just 3 days away! Amanda Heyn joins Tim today to talk about their preparation for the conference, their excitement about everything coming with the event, and how teachers can make the most of their professional learning on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Join us at the NOW Conference on January 27th, 28th, and 29th, where we will share three days of PD that will have you excited and ready to finish the school year strong! Full Episode Transcript Below.

Resources and Links


Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show’s produced by the Art of Education University and I’m your host, Tim Bogatz. All right. We are here with my favorite biannual podcast and one of my favorite guests, my partner in crime for all things NOW Conference related, Amanda Heyn. How are you?

Amanda: I am doing so excellent, Tim. How are you?

Tim: Well, we are very, very close to the NOW Conference, so I am equal parts stressed out and excited, if that makes sense.

Amanda: As am I.

Tim: I assume you’re feeling the same.

Amanda: I do. I understand your sentiments, yes. It’s always nerve-wracking the week of the conference. It’s like in a very excited energy. There’s a lot to do, but we’ll get it done, we always do. So, I’m excited.

Tim: We always put on a good event and it’s always fun, it’s always exciting. So yeah, I think we’re in good shape. Now, we probably need to tell everybody we are going on location, which we’ve tried to do multiple times, multiple locations. Fingers crossed, it’s finally happening. We thought it was happening in Chicago last time.

Amanda: We did.

Tim: And then you had family members with COVID.

Amanda: I did.

Tim: So, that did not work out. So we’re trying, again, we’re headed to Tampa, Florida, which I’m pretty excited about, and I think you were pretty excited about. My reasoning is the Salvador Dali Museum is there. Your reasoning is the shoebill stork is there, which I think we talked about on three previous podcasts. So, I guess my question for you is do you think anybody besides you cares about the shoebill stork?

Amanda: Well, I think if they don’t, they should. I think that I’ve shared my passion for the shoebill stork enough times on the podcast that hopefully I have a few converts. But if they don’t, I do have breaking news from a correspondent in Tampa, someone on our AOEU team who lives there who said there is an egg in the shoebill stork nest at Zoo Tampa. And so if we managed to have an extra 30 minutes, which we probably won’t, I would like to see a shoebill stork nest. I feel like that’s another level to add to my life experiences that is interesting to me.

Tim: Now, do you know anything about these shoebill storks? Is there any chance that it’s going to hatch in the next few days before we make it down there?

Amanda: Oh my gosh. I don’t know, but I think I know what I’m going to do after we get done recording. I’m going to research. Yeah.

Tim: It’s good. Okay. So, I guess my question to everybody who’s listening right now, we always love to do Instagram content, so if you’re listening and want to shoot me an email or a message on Twitter, let me know. Do you want shoebill stork content on Instagram or would you rather see us go someplace cool like the Dali Museum?

Amanda: Okay. I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. You can’t… That’s throwing people. Do you want to see cool shoebill storks or cool Dali Museum? How about that?

Tim: Okay, fair. I’m just trying to sway things in my favor so we can stop talking about the shoebill stork.

Amanda: Never.

Tim: That’s all I’m trying to do. Okay, let’s talk about the actual conference though. We’re always trying to do new stuff. We’re always trying to do fun things, not necessarily reinvent the wheel, but just add on to what we’re doing. So, can you give everybody a rundown of what plans are and I guess just what is exciting about this upcoming conference in particular?

Amanda: Yes, I can. So, I think one exciting thing is we’re continuing with our extended After Pass. So if you’ve joined us for conferences before, you know the last conference we really bumped up all of the presentations in the After Pass. And so we went to providing 15 hours of professional development with the NOW conference, which I think is super exciting. So, that continues for this year.

We have also I think we’re at sort of a weird time in teaching. Well, we’ve been at weird times for the past two to three years, but I think there’s a really interesting mix that we’re seeing from teachers between burnout and also getting back to normal and full steam ahead and really excited about teaching. And I think that there are some teachers that fall in one camp and some that fall in the other, but I think a lot of teachers are waffling between these two feelings. I’m so burned out or I’m so excited depending on the day or the week or even the moment in their classroom. And so I think we’ve done a really good job and I’m really excited to bring the content to the teachers this year because I think we have things to meet the moment no matter how you’re feeling. And we have inspiring new ideas and also ideas to take care of yourself when things feel tricky. So I’m really excited about that.

We’re also doing something new this year and we’re piloting a live meetup with a few districts who have PRO and FLEX down in Florida. And so I’m just super excited to be able to meet a few people in person, see where that goes, see where that takes us for the future. So lots of exciting things. What about you?

Tim: There’s a lot there. I think you mentioned all of the most important things. I really love the idea of everything that’s in the After Pass, just so many additional videos, so much learning that can take place with people on their own. We had great response to that last time, so I’m excited we can continue that. The conference kickoff is always a great time too, so we should probably chat about that actually.

Okay, so let me just remind everybody, first day of the conference, that’ll be on Friday. That is going to be the conference kickoff. Saturday’s the main event. Sunday is the After Pass and then you’ll have access to everything for a full year after the conference. But yeah, I don’t know if it’s the thing we’re most excited about, but I know Amanda and I both love the conference kickoff. So Amanda, would you like to sell that to everybody? Why should everybody come to the kickoff on Friday night?

Amanda: Yes. So the kickoff is comprised of games, prizes, art making. It’s really just a time to get together and get excited to learn and to have fun together. And so inevitably, I laugh so hard, I cry at least one time every conference kickoff. And it’s just the energy in the room, if you will, in the Zoom room is so, so fun. And this year, so if you joined us in the past, we’ve done Price is Right, we’ve done Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Obviously always with an art teacher spin.

And we’re finally bringing an idea we’ve had for I think six or seven years. I was trying to go back and dig through my Google Docs and see when we first thought about this. We’re going to bring it to fruition in the most fun way. So we’re going to pick our path and we’re going to lead teachers through escaping from session of mind numbing professional development. And so essentially Tim and I have written a story, if you will, a Pick Your Path book. And we’re going to get everybody voting on which decisions you should make, how you can get out of this treacherous situation. And I think it’s going to be incredible. I popped on the screen today to record this and Tim started laughing because I have a head full of Butterfly clips because I’m testing out my outfit because we decided we’re going to dress like the ages we were in the ’90s.

Tim: That’s a throwback.

Amanda: Please tune in. I think the most exciting thing is Tim is going to grow some weird facial hair that he had going on in the ’90s. And so I really think, first of all, I appreciate that two years ago you refused to wear a costume and now you’re growing your own facial hair as a commitment to the cause. So it’s like from all of us, thanks so much.

Tim: You have converted me, I think, to the costume.

Amanda: Converted, corrupted . . .

Tim: I was just going to say I’m super excited about the art making. We always hear from so many people, they love having time dedicated to making their own art. And so we’re going to give people a couple options to do that. If you like just relaxing, controlled, calm drawing, you get to hang out with me. If you like to get a little more crazy with more colors and more adventure, you hang out with Amanda. And so it’s going to fit. So Carole Drummond-Johnson will be with me doing a drawing activity and then Sarah Krajewski will be with Amanda doing a big mixed-media painting activity. And so it’ll give everybody a chance to make their own art during the second half of the kickoff. And so I’m really looking forward to that.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s going to be really good. It’s going to be exciting.

Tim: All right. And then as we said, on Saturday will be the main event. So much going on there. And I don’t know, I guess we just want to encourage everybody to come live. You can access everything after the fact if you can’t make it live. But if it’s possible for you to come on Saturday for you to be there, be a part of it and be live with us, we would love for you to do that. So Amanda, can you just share with everybody everything that’s going to be going on, what some of the advantages are of joining the community, of being there live with us on Saturday?

Amanda: Yeah, I want to make it clear we are not trying to create FOMO here. We do know art teachers are busy. And so if you can’t come live, that is why we have the After Pass. You can watch it anytime. However, if you have any time, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, if you can jump in for 30 minutes or if you can follow us on social to see what’s going on, or if you can only come for the featured presenter, we really encourage you to come for whatever you can. Obviously we would love to have you for the whole day.

But I think one of the really cool things is that you can interact with our expert art educators and our featured presenter during the conference. They are in the chat, they are answering your questions. So if you’ve ever wondered about a technique you’re seeing or you want to ask our future presenter about their process or whatever, you have direct access to them during the conference in the Zoom chat, which is pretty cool. I also think, I mentioned this earlier, but just the energy of the art teacher community and spending time with people who really get you. I was going through past posts using the NOW Conference hashtag on Instagram, and I ran across one. It’s a picture of you and I dressed up in ’70s clothes and you have the fake mustache on. The caption is just like us art teachers really are a different breed. It was just so funny.

So, I think being able to come together in community is really valuable. If you haven’t experienced it before, I think you’re going to walk away just feeling really just lighter and more inspired. And then of course you can explore the resources in real time. Again, we have access to the chat. Afterwards in the After Pass you can download a PDF document that has all the links, but it’s really cool to be able to share those resources that we’re sharing while the presentations are going on in real time and context. And then like you talked about, setting aside to some time to make some art. That’s during the conference kickoff, but also during the main event there are going to be some art making opportunities. So, it’s a nice dedicated time where you’re sitting down anyway to devote some time to your art making practice. So, would you add anything?

Tim: Well, I was just going to say, piggybacking off that art making thing, we’re going to start the day with Joel Scholten leading an art making activity. And then not too far after that, Janet Taylor is going to lead another one. And so whether you’re trying to do one or trying to do both, we put those right at the beginning of the conference so you can just continue to work on things all day. Janet has a ton of prompts and ideas and brainstorming things that can really facilitate the art making process. And so I’m hoping that people can tune into that and like I said, just kind of continue to work throughout the day as they’re learning, as they’re connecting with people, as they’re watching all of what happens in the conference. So, I think that’s a great opportunity to not only learn, but do some work while you’re learning as well.

So Amanda, you mentioned having access to the featured presenter in Zoom. This year, if people haven’t heard, it’s Andrea Beaty. She was on the podcast recently. Great podcast, great woman. We loved talking to her. Amanda, you were at the video shoot when we recorded her presentation, when we recorded her podcast. Can you just give us your impressions of just being there at the shoot, what that was like, and just why she’s going to be a good keynote for us?

Amanda: Yes, I would love to tell you about that. So if you don’t know Andrea Beatty, she wrote the Questioneers series, which is Iggy Peck Architect, Ada Twist, Scientist, all of those books, which my own personal kids love. We have all of her books at our house, including the chapter books and some of the workbooks. They’re great. And Andrea was just so warm and funny and you could tell that she really deeply cared about the messages her books are meant to send, which is that all kids are creative, all kids have special gifts. And it just really parallels a lot of what art teachers believe about students in their classroom. And so I’m so excited for people to hear from her. She just spent a lot of time talking about the importance, not only that kids have these gifts, but the importance of finding those gifts and helping kids develop those gifts. And so I just really enjoyed listening to the conversation and I think teachers are going to get a lot out of it.

Tim: Yeah, I agree. And you mentioning just the message that her books are sending, one thing that she said during the interview, and I’m not sure if this will make it into the final presentation or not, but she talked about when she works with kids, they never say, “Hey, I am going to be a scientist, or I’m going to be an illustrator.” They say, “I am a scientist, I’m an illustrator.” And just thinking about how kids see themselves and how we can support that and nurture that I think is really important and just really made me think. And just there’s so many just little gems that, little nuggets in everything that she had to say that I think it’s going to be a really, really good presentation that everybody’s going to love to see.

Amanda: Yep, I agree.

Tim: All right, so we’re obviously excited about that. But when we do these podcasts, I always make you pick what you’re looking forward to the most.

Amanda: I know.

Tim: Which I know you don’t love, but it’s important. We need to have everybody look out for certain things. So why don’t you give me one main event presentation and one After Pass presentation that you are really looking forward to.

Amanda: Okay. With my thing I always say, which is that all of them are great. In the main event, I’m really looking forward to the art teacher round table. So, we’re going to bring on a few art educators from various levels and we’re going to have a conversation about art teacher empowerment. And I’m super excited about this because I feel like over the last two years, two and a half years, three years, whatever we’re going on now, a lot of teachers have been told, “You have to do this. You have to move to a cart. You have to take on this extra class. You have to teach on the computer. You have to teach back at school.” And so I feel like a lot of art teachers and just educators in general are wondering where their sense of agency is. What do I have control over? How can I take what I can control and work on that to make things the best I can for myself? And so I’m just super, super excited about having that conversation.

And then in the After Pass there is a presentation called Building Success with, oh gosh, Froebel.

Tim: Froebel.

Amanda: Froebel, yes. And this one was so interesting to me because it’s about how we approach teaching, drawing and scaffolding it. And it just talked about a method of doing that that I had never considered, never heard of in my life. And when Ruth was done talking about this, I was a hundred percent sold. If I went back into the classroom, I would be doing this method. It actually starts with 3D forms, moves down to a point, and then moves back up to drawing. It’s hard to explain obviously in seven seconds, but you should absolutely check that out. It’s incredible.

Tim: Yeah. Ruth Byrne is great. I love that After Pass presentation. It’s going to be incredible. So, I’m going to make two choices from the same person just in the interest of time. I’m super excited about what Jen Leban is doing. She has one main event presentation, one After Pass presentation. In the main event, it’s called Getting Creative with Technology. And she just asks the question what can you do with all of this free stuff that’s online? Kids have Chromebooks and just using Google and all of their free resources to do all sorts of great art stuff with slides, with Docs, with Canva, with just all kinds of stuff that’s available and how you can make some really, really good art even if you don’t feel like you have the best machines or the best resources.

And she has a really good perspective on how we teach with technology and just how we, as art teachers have specialized things that we can do. We have talent of working with our hands. And so sometimes we’re afraid to step into technology, but she speaks to that and talks about how we can use tech to add to what we’re already doing as art teachers. So very interesting perspective. I think that’s going to be a good one.

And then in her After Pass presentation, she does Google Draw self-portraits. And so she takes this lesson and just dives deep. It’s a 40-minute video, so it’s everything you will ever want to know about doing Google Draw portraits. And you can just work right along with her and create some really, really cool stuff. So she’s got a big picture overview in the main event and then just really dives down into things specifically in the After Pass and I think it’s a great combination.

Amanda: Yeah, I’m excited for that too.

Tim: All right. Let’s finish it up, Amanda. We always talk about how people can use this conference to improve their teaching, which we always give out resources and try and help people do. But we’re kind of taking that to the next level this year and AOEU is offering a one-credit hour course related to the NOW Conference. So can you give us the rundown on everything that’s available or what that includes?

Amanda: Yes, I would love to talk about this. So, this is something new that we developed just for this year. And essentially you have a way to stock up on grad credits if you’re looking for a way to do that or if you need to earn some. And you can do that with the NOW Conference. So registering for the conference actually unlocks your ability to enroll in a new graduate level course. It’s called Current Topics in Art Education. It’s three weeks long, costs $99, and it’s going to help you dig deep into all of the NOW presentations and earn one semester graduate credit.

Tim: Yeah, so I was actually… We had the quick read from Heather Crockett, our dean on the podcast last month. And a bunch of people were jumping on this. They were very interested in the idea. I was talking to Kyle Wood, one of our After Pass presenters, and he was like, “This is perfect. I need 10 more graduate credits.” I don’t know if he’s doing salary advancement or renewal or whatever. He’s like, “This is the perfect way to get the ball rolling on this.” Just a quick course. It doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t take that long, just three weeks. Plus you’re working on stuff that you’re going to be watching, you’re going to be doing anyway. So, I think it works well. I think, like I said, a lot of people are excited about it. So since we’re not running that ad on this episode, can you give us the rundown on what people need to do to sign up for that?

Amanda: Yeah, definitely. So first of all, it’s very easy. You’re going to register for the conference, which hopefully you’ve already done. But if you haven’t, there’s still time. And then you’re going to enroll in Current Topics in Art Education. In the course, you’re going to watch the NOW Conference live or on-demand with the After Pass. And then you’re going to complete the coursework within three weeks. So the course will be offered only in February and March. Registration for the February class ends January 27th, and then registration for March ends February 27th. I know we have a lot of interest, a lot of people signed up already, so we would love for you to join us.

Tim: And so overachievers, if you want to sign up by Friday, you can do that. Procrastinators, you can wait until next month. You can’t procrastinate too much because then you’re going to lose your opportunity. But we’ll include all of the links that you need to learn more to register. We’ll put those in the show notes. And then as all the disclaimer that we always have to have, we need you to check with your state and your district to understand how credits from AOEU can work for you, your salary advancement, your renewal, whatever you may need. So if you have any questions about any of it, you can always reach out to us. Just email and we’ll get you the help you need to get those questions answered. So yeah, we’re really excited about that course and just continuing to extend everything that can happen from now. So Amanda, any final words before we go make our final preparations for the NOW Conference?

Amanda: I don’t think so. I would love for everyone to join us. I would love for you to come live for what you can and we can’t wait to hang out with you.

Tim: All right, sounds great. Thank you, Amanda, and thank you everybody for listening, and we’ll see you this weekend at the NOW Conference.

Amanda: Bye.

Tim: To close the show, I need to ask probably the most important question, are you more interested in the shoebill stork or more interested in museums and other art adventures in the Tampa area? Amanda and I are going to be doing some fun stuff on Instagram once we get to Florida. And I am curious what you would rather see. So shoot me an email, shoot me a message on Twitter. Let me know. Actually, let’s be honest, I’m not going to check Twitter. Just send me an email, Let me know what you would rather see.

But this is the last call for the NOW Conference and last call for the one credit course Amanda and I just discussed. As you finish listening to this episode today, Amanda and I are finishing putting everything together for another incredible NOW Conference and we are just about ready to go. So for all of you procrastinators out there, the last day to register for the conference is Friday at noon. And the last day to register for the Current Topics in Art Education course is also Friday, although you have a chance to register at the end of February for the section of the course that starts in March.

But everything you need to know about the conference and about the course can be found on the AOEU website. Between the NOW Conference and the one credit hour course, a couple of great professional development opportunities are right in front of you. And I hope you take advantage of them. We’ll be ready to go Friday night for the conference kickoff and Saturday morning for the main event. We will see you there.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening and we will talk to you again next week.

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.