Distance Learning, Automatas, and COVID Vaccines (Ep. 256)

In today’s episode, Janine Campbell joins Tim to preview her upcoming presentations at the NAEA national convention later this week. They also discuss a wide range of additional topics, including creating digital mosaics, coping with distance learning, and Janine getting vaccinated. Finally, stick around to hear Janine’s trick for working in Google that you might not know. Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by The Art of Education University, and I’m your host, Tim Bogatz. Later this week, NAEA will be holding its annual convention, which will be virtual, of course, and one of my favorite parts of the year is being able to go to the convention in March, and this will be the second straight year without an in-person event due to the pandemic. However, after canceling everything last year, the virtual event that they are putting on this week and weekend is something to look forward to. It’s obviously not the same as being together with thousands of art teachers.

The learning is still going to be there. You’ll still get to see presentations, but you miss out on those connections, those conversations, the time in between where you’re running into people that you’re familiar with or people that you know, and being able to see them face-to-face and chat with them. Even though we don’t have that this time, I still hope that the convention will be worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, not seeing art teachers we like to connect with is obviously way down on the list of things we’ve missed out on during the last year, but at the same time, there’s still a twinge of regret that we aren’t able to get together.

We aren’t able to be with the people we know, to be with the people who do what we do and understand what we do, and so I was hoping to make one of those connections, and my guest today is Janine Campbell. Janine is an art teacher from Michigan, who does just so many incredible things. A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about all the things that she had been doing in her classroom, all the things that she’s sharing online, and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to catch up with her at NAEA and ask her about all of those things, so we’re doing the next best thing. We are talking together on the podcast.

Janine Campbell is joining me now. Janine, welcome back to the show. How are you?

Janine: I’m doing really well. Thank you so much for having me.

Tim: Yeah. It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted, but I’m glad that you’re back. I’m glad we get a chance to talk to you. The big thing I want to ask you about to start with is the NAEA Conference is coming up, or at least the virtual version coming really soon. You’re almost always presenting. We almost always get to meet up there, and that was two years in a row we don’t get to, which is tragic, but can you tell us a little bit about the presentations that you have coming in, what you’re doing this year?

Janine: Yeah, for sure. I am going to miss seeing you and all of my other art teacher friends from across the country, and even from other countries, so it’s definitely kind of a bittersweet opportunity to share with people because I’m excited to share, but I know that face-to-face interaction is so important, and it will definitely be missed this year.

Tim: Yes.

Janine: I’m presenting twice. One’s at 5:00 on Saturday with Catie Nasser on automatas, and then the second time at 7:00 on Saturday, and my session is called Empowering Students as Artists Through Design Thinking. Those are my two sessions that I’m really excited to bring because I was supposed to present those in Minneapolis last March, and then it didn’t happen, so Catie and I decided to kind of come together again, and then I revamped my Design Thinking presentation, and so I’m really excited to share those at the conference this year.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah. I’m really excited to see both of those, and I actually wanted to ask you too, because I’m trying to get Catie Nasser on the show also, because she’s just doing so many cool things, but how did you first connect with her and how did you two come up with the presentation that you’re going to do together?

Janine: I met her face-to-face in Boston at the conference, the K12ArtChat with team Grundler, and Morphi app, and DoInk.

Tim: Yeah.

Janine: They kind of put on this sort of mixer event, and Tricia Fuglestad was doing some demonstrations with DoInk on how to do animations, and Catie and I sat across from each other, and I had connected with Catie through Twitter, which is like how I connect with a lot of the people that I end up collaborating with.

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Janine: We met at that conference, had a chance to meet up a little bit more at this event, and that then made us, I guess connect even more on Twitter with the things that we’re doing, and we saw a lot of overlap in some of the STEAM work that we were doing. Both of us were doing Automata’s or Automata’s, depending on how you want to pronounce it, and we saw that overlap and said, “You know, this would be a really cool thing to present at the conference,” and so we were able to put together the presentation, proposal, and we were supposed to do it at Minneapolis. It didn’t work out, but I’m really excited that we’re able to do this here, and we had sort of a test run at the Michigan Art Education Association Virtual Conference in the fall, so we’ve been able to kind of work out what we want to share, and it’ll be a fun thing to present.

Tim: I think that’s going to be really, really good. I’m super looking forward to seeing your presentations, so that’ll be something that’s on my list, for sure, but I wanted to kind of step back with you a little bit too, Janine, just kind of talk about everything that has happened this year because obviously it’s been a crazy year, but can you just tell us like how have things been going for you? What does this year of teaching been like for you?

Janine: Well, this is my 17th year of teaching, and this has been one for the books, for sure. To me, it’s like now that we’re kind of almost three-quarters of the way in, it’s been really amazing how much we’ve adapted and how resilient the students and the teachers have been through the whole process. When I started planning back in August, we didn’t know if we were going to go back full face-to-face, if it was going to be virtual, if it was going to be hybrid, and so I just started kind of coming in with a mindset that you were probably going to be remote, and even if we didn’t come in remote, we were probably going to be remote at some point, and if we were a hybrid, if I had some kids at home and some kids in school, then I should probably plan for remote anyway. That’s kind of how I structured all my curriculum, was with lots of videos, and choice boards, and lots of different planning guides in that way. When I get stressed out, I funnel it all into work, and so one of my friends, who’s also an art teacher, as I was like posting all these things I was preparing in August, she was like, “Are you okay? You are really stressed out, I can tell.”

She’s like, “You are doing too much work. I can tell that you are stressed out,” but I’m really glad I did all of that work. Our district made the decision to come back hybrid, and having all of those videos and all of those resources kind of already in the can, it allowed me to continue on with what I would be doing face-to-face, and the kids were able to do it at home, and then we went back full face-to-face, and I was still able to use those tools because, you know as an art teacher how important it is to do those demonstrations and get close to kids.

Tim: Yes. Yes.

Janine: You can’t do that while social distancing, but you can do that through video medium, and so having all those tutorials that show that up close still allowed me to have that direct instruction and that connection with kids. They got to see me without my mask on in the videos, but we were able to maintain social distancing, and when we did go, we ended up for a couple weeks going fully remote before going back to hybrid, before now, we’re back full face-to-face, and we have been for quite a while. It allowed for all of those different iterations to kind of just be smooth, so I’m really glad that I did all of that work because it first of all helped me funnel all of that nervous energy into something productive, but it also allowed it so that I wasn’t missing a step, my students weren’t missing a step when we were all basically be able to maintain the content and things at choice and things that we’re able to do if it was a normal year.

Tim: Right.

Janine: That’s kind of been a surprise for me that it actually worked out in terms of the content.

Tim: Yeah, for sure. Yep. Let me ask you too, obviously, the video part is a big change from what you’ve normally done, and that may or may not stick with you in the future years, but are there other things that you were kind of forced to change? Like do you feel like teaching has been super different this year or has a lot of it stayed the same for you?

Janine: I’d say the biggest change has been use of supplies and management of supplies. You know, again, as an art teacher and the people who are listening know, like you have to be frugal with your money because it’s scarce.

Tim: Yes. Yes.

Janine: When I started thinking about the amount of stuff we have and how it’s all shared, like everything is shared, that was kind of a big wall that I had to burst through, and luckily, I have a really great administration who was very supportive of us, within reason, purchasing the things that we needed to maintain the curriculum that we would normally would be able to do. I was able to get the supplies that I needed for students so that they had their own little kits, but I wasn’t able to get the ones that are sort of pre-packaged, so I had to really glean the internet for all of the innovative things that other teachers were coming up with as alternative solutions so that students had as broad availability to the supplies that they could get.

Tim: Yeah.

Janine: Then, there were some things that I had to take off the table because I couldn’t figure out how to do it safely within reason for the amount of prep and clean up for myself. Any supplies that we do share, I have to clean and I need to be kind to myself in the process as well, because although I want students to have that full, rich experience, I also want to be safe for myself in terms of what I’m exposed to and be able to …

Tim: Yeah.

Janine: I mean, I’m cleaning tables after every class. There’s things that were already new additions in terms of protocol for safety, and so to me, there was just some things that I had to say, “Okay, we’re not going to do printmaking like we used to do because I can’t figure out how to get those tools cleaned between kids in an efficient way that’s also going to not drive me crazy.”

Tim: Absolutely. I mean, like you said, you need to be kind to yourself. You can’t exhaust yourself because you need to have enough energy to be present and still be a good teacher for your students there too.

Janine: Yeah. That was kind of, and it was tough because there are things that I normally would do. Like I normally do clay on the first day of school. I didn’t do clay on the first day of school, so there are just things that were traditions that you had to let go of, but then, there are new things that you figure out, and then there are things that do stay the same. Like yesterday I had a student come up to me and she confessed that she was actually really dreading my class because she knew that we were doing skill builders, dealing with the figure in portraits, and she’s like, “I knew I just can’t draw people,” and she’s like, “But the skill builders allowed me to realize I can draw people,” and so those moments are still there, and so we’re distanced and they’re learning it in a different way, but those connections are still being made.

Tim: Yes.

Janine: Really, the amount of product that students are creating is crazy. We reached our typical Artsonia gallery submissions.
What we normally would do in a year, we did in half a year, because kids are just producing so much work, and I just, I don’t know if it’s because they need that outlet.

Tim: Wow.

Janine: I don’t know if it’s because of the way that I’ve structured my class this year. There are so many different options and videos that kids are just kind of going through them. I don’t know if it’s because they have more time on their hands because they’re not, some other activities aren’t available to them, but the amount of work that kids are doing, at least in my classroom has been really profound, and the quality has been really, really good as well. We just got our Scholastic Results, and we had 22 works recognized this year with two gold keys that are going to go on to the national competition.

We’ll find out in March how they do, but it’s really on par with how we would do in a regular year in terms of … If anything, it’s above average of, what, for the decade that I’ve been participating that we do with student work, so they’ve really continued on that excellence and expectation for themselves to be creative and try new things, and then apply those skills to make the work that they want to make.

Tim: That’s awesome. Well, and I think it speaks highly of you too, where just like you are creating those connections, you’re giving kids the opportunity, and as to why they’re making so much work, nobody knows. We’ve never been through this before, but my best guess is just like all of the above. Like they have time, they’re making connections, they’re doing things that interests them, and you’re obviously getting some good results, so I think that’s awesome.

There’s one project that I wanted to ask you about. I saw a lot of them that you had posted on social media. Like one of my favorite things that I saw was the Google Drawing mosaics that you had your kids doing. They did just some incredible work, so can you talk about sort of what that project is, how you developed it, and maybe just kind of talk us through the process of creating those mosaics?

Janine: Yeah. I’m really lucky to have great professional learning network and on the Online Art Teachers Facebook group, which if you’re not a part of, rush to be a part of that group because people on there are super generous and somebody else started sharing ideas, and I was like, “This is phenomenal.”

Tim: Yeah.

Janine: This is such a great method and great historical connections, and just really interesting use of that tool. Then, I found a quick tutorial just by searching on YouTube, and then I was able to adapt that to fit the needs of my students. There’s another teacher from Michigan, her name is Jane Montero, and she was doing like, she does amazing things with Google Drawing, like so many creative things with collaboration, and then just lots of exploratory stuff, so I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from her, and she started doing this with her students. Just like with anything else, you see things you like, you mix it with what you know, you learn more things, and then you figure out how to make it your own, and that’s kind of what I feel like I’ve done with that. Jane and I actually have teamed up to write an article about the mosaics with Google Drawing for School Arts Magazine, so they’ll be a more specific kind of step-by-step process of how to go about doing that.

Tim: Nice.

Janine: Then, there’s another person who’s really amazing. His name is Tony Vincent. I went to, had the opportunity to go to ISTE online this fall because of the NAEA cancellation. I was able to use some funding from that to go to that conference, and he has a website called Shapegrams, and he did a session about using Google Drawing to create drag and drop activities for students, and that allows them to collaborate, and then also still maintain social distancing, so when we were remote, I had students get into breakout rooms and work together to categorize art on a spectrum of realistic to abstract, so I had like a, sort of a continuum, and then a bunch of art pieces, and they were able to drag and drop these together and work collaboratively on that. Then, we also did some collaborative Google Drawings with non-objective abstraction, where when we were in hybrid, kids were at home and kids were in the classroom, so everybody would go on Zoom, and then I put them in breakout rooms that way, and kids were able to collaborate.

Google Drawings is a really cool tool that allows you to still have kids collaborate, maintain that social distancing, and the biggest thing I learned probably from the Google Drawings was that if you edit the shareable link to say copy at the end, that it makes the student make a copy of it, rather than them ask you to like request to edit.

Tim: Really? Nice.

Janine: I was just so blown away because it was-

Tim: Right. That’s all I’m feeling right now.

Janine: Yes. It’s not anything anyone ever told me, and so like I was mad for quite a while about like, “Who was keeping the secret for all of these years?,” and so if you didn’t know, now you do, and hopefully it makes you as happy as it’s made me, not to have to be like deny requests.

Tim: Right. Oh, that’s fantastic.

Janine: Yes, put copy at the end of that URL when you go to the shareable link, and it just makes it so that when it pops up for you, it says, “Do you want a copy?,” and then kids can say, “Yes, I want a copy.”

Tim: I love it. I love it.

Janine: It’s the little things, right?

Tim: No. I feel like everybody who has listened to this whole podcast, like it just paid off for them right there, so-

Janine: Yes!

Tim: Spectacular. Cool. Hey, then, just one last question before we go. I know that you have now been able to get your COVID vaccine, and as somebody who’s waiting patiently, I have so many questions for you about it. Can you tell us kind of like what the experience was like?

How did you feel afterward? Like is it going to change anything that you’re doing teaching-wise or just in life in general? Tell us all about it.

Janine: Well, first of all, I feel super fortunate that I was able to get it. Our school partnered with the University of Michigan’s Metro Health facility so that teachers could sign up through an online portal, and they made it so that we could get weekend appointments, which is really nice.

Tim: Oh, nice. Yeah.

Janine: You schedule both appointments through the portal at the same time, which was also nice, so you just had like a set plan once you could get it to work. It took a little bit of time and some refreshing to get it to that point, but in terms of the stories I’ve heard from other people, like it really was not an ordeal at all.

Tim: Yeah.

Janine: It was pretty seamless. Once I got the first shot, it was, I didn’t really feel any side effects at all. It was just a little bit of a sore arm, no big deal.

The second one was a little bit more impactful, but it wasn’t like too terrible, but it was, you felt a little kick from it. I was happy that we had a mid-winter break, so I had that Monday off, and then we had a snow day Tuesday, so I was thankful for that just to get that extra rest. In terms of the day by day, nothing’s really changed for me in terms of how I behave. I double mask for work, and I still am mindful in terms of distancing and where I’m at. I eat lunch by myself in my classroom, which is very sad, and I don’t really necessarily see that changing yet.

I haven’t seen my extended family in over a year, like I haven’t seen my parents.

Until more people are vaccinated and things are, I guess more normal, I don’t really see that changing as much. Everyone’s different. I still will just get takeout and support local businesses in that way, but yeah. In terms of, I think I feel so thankful that I’m vaccinated and I do feel like sort of that additional layer of protection, but I’m still taking all of the same safety measures until I’m told like I don’t have to.

Tim: Makes sense, and yeah, very good to hear. Well, Janine, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. It was great to catch up with you, hear about all the great things that you’re doing, and we’ll look forward to seeing you present at NAEA soon.

Janine: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me and hopefully New York 2022, right?

Tim: Yes, I’m ready.

Janine: Hopefully I’ll see you there.

Tim: All right. Perfect.

Thank you to Janine. Make sure you check out her presentations this weekend, Saturday afternoon and evening, I believe. They will be informative, they will be entertaining, and definitely worth checking out. One last thought as we wrap things up, I would love to see NAEA think about continuing on with virtual participation in the future, not in place of an in-person event, but in addition to an in-person event.

There are so many teachers that can’t attend the in-person event because of the cost of registration, the cost of travel, the cost of the hotel, or for a lot of teachers, just the inability to get time off of school or the inability to secure a substitute for their classroom because they don’t have the support of their district, and having even part of the event available virtually reduces a lot of those barriers to entry and really ups the accessibility for so many teachers out there, and having that ability to participate virtually can now allow a lot more teachers to participate in the future. Art Ed Radio was produced by The Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Hope to see you at the convention later this 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.