Introduction to Candido Crespo (Ep. 220)

The Everyday Art Room podcast has a new permanent host—Candido Crespo! You may know Candido from his Instagram, his NOW Conference presentations, or his episodes guest hosting the podcast. Today, he welcomes you to his debut episode as the permanent host of Everyday Art Room! Listen as he discusses what to expect from his show, his passions and what drives him, and how he wants to connect with podcast listeners.  Full episode transcript below.

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Candido: In the fall of 2020, Nic Hahn invited me on to be a guest. I was honored, because I was a fan going back to when Cassie Stephens was at the helm! This podcast has always provided me a space to learn, to laugh, and feel like I wasn’t alone in the profession. You know the feeling. It was especially helpful in my growth as an elementary art teacher, seeing as I began my career in secondary. Both Cassie and Nic have done an incredible job of really identifying those topics that matter most to this profession. And I’m sure every listener has become a better educator because of their efforts.

Today, I have the pleasure to announce that the baton has been passed to me. So let’s do this. This is Everyday Art Room, And I’m your new host, Candido Crespo.

I want to start this podcast sort of the same way I would start my first day of class, to have a conversation that’s rooted in trust and relationships. I’m going to do my very best to ensure that every time that you’re listening to an episode and you spend time with me, it’s worthwhile and educational, but we know that making connections really helps with delivering content. It’s sort of at the core of what we do. So let me introduce myself a little bit more. I’m a husband, a father, artist, and educator. I start by saying that I’m a husband because my wife really allows me to do what I do, because she’s so supportive. She motivates me. She criticizes me. And she really gives me the time that I need to focus on my profession in any external or extracurricular activities.

Second, being a father has absolutely changed my perspective about this profession, about being an artist. It’s changed my delivery of instruction. It’s changed the type of artwork, my style of art, the time that I put into to all of my endeavors and it’s really the title that’s filled me with so much joy. This is my 15th year teaching. And during that time I’ve been able to experience a ton of changes, but let’s start at the actual location of where I teach. I teach in Central Islip. It’s a suburb of New York that’s serving a predominantly Latinx and black student body. In 2007 when I began, I was really teaching secondary, ninth through 12th grade. I was teaching two different courses, basic studio art and basic creative crafts. I don’t know if you have creative crafts in your district, but the way I really taught that class was I was giving students an experience that allowed them to create functionable art. Right?

I wanted them to be able to use the art that they were creating, whether it was decorative or as utensils. It was a fun class, but it was definitely different than what I was prepared to teach. You’ll notice a trend. Well, after two years of being at the high school, I was sent down to the intermediate school. Not because I did anything wrong, just because we were changing positions and I was the least senior. So I went down to the intermediate school. That was comprised of fifth and sixth grade. Now, if you’ve taught high school before, changing your delivery of instruction classroom management to fit a fifth and sixth grade can be significantly challenging. And it was for me. It took me a very long time to understand how I would go about even changing both of those.

So I wasn’t really the best at either. However, eventually, I became pretty good at it, right in time for redistricting and our intermediate school was converted into a middle school. So now, we’re serving sixth through eighth-graders. That was interesting as well. I think a lot of us fear teaching middle school, but I grew to love it almost immediately, especially my eighth-grade studio art program. Before I was hired the studio art program was no longer in effect. The lady who had taught it was no longer working for the district. And so the program kind of just faded. So for us, an eighth-grade studio art program gives students an opportunity to get their first credit in high school or their first high school credit.

And for a lot of our students, that are not honor students, this was a really big deal. And so it brought me so much joy to be able to give them this opportunity. We did a lot during that time and I’m going to do my very best to share some of those stories, because I think that they’re applicable to all grade levels, the types of things that we were trying inside that class, because it became a very experimental type class. We just tried a lot of things. Well, as soon as I fell in love with those grade levels, we did another redistricting. And this time I was teaching in kindergarten through sixth grade. Now kindergarten and first grade, I will not lie to you, are my biggest challenge. To date, I feel I have not mastered them. Yes, I’ve gotten all the hugs. I’ve gotten all the pieces of art, but I’m not sure that I’m actually teaching in the classroom when they’re there with me.

Oh, but I enjoy their presence and their energy is unmatched. Maybe this is where I’ll be learning during these podcast episodes. I made a decision to change one more time last year. And this time I decided that I wanted to be split, two different buildings. So now I teach third grade through seventh grade and that gives me an opportunity to have, well, sort of the best of both worlds. I get to teach primary and I get to teach secondary. And so I’ll be infusing those experiences into our conversations as well. All right, let’s talk about my educational philosophy. I kind of break it down into two categories. Well, yeah, one, I really want to remove the fear of creating.

For me, the students who walk into my art class and the first thing they tell me is I can’t draw. Those are the students that I really own in on, because I want them to feel at the end of a year with me that even if they can’t do something, before they say that they can’t do it, they’re willing to try. And so that’s the goal, right? Let’s make sure that they feel comfortable enough to try and remove that fear of creating.

The second is extending the reach of the classroom into the community. This one is a little bit more challenging, but I really think it’s possible. You see, I see the class classroom as kind of the studio space. Think about our students as, as artists and practice, right? This is the place where they try materials. This is the place where they produce maybe small-scale versions of their artwork. And then it’s all about taking that artwork into the community. I really think that the local businesses, the families, the residents that don’t have children in the district anymore, I really think that they should see the types of beautiful works that our students are making. And it’s really up to us to expose them to it. There’s a lot to consider and I’ll make sure that I’ll bring on some guests that can really help us understand how we can go about doing this, but I believe in it.

All right. I also said that I’m an artist and it’s really important to me because if you’ve heard me on Everyday Art Room before or Art Ed Radio, or maybe one of the Now conferences, then you’ll know that I believe that art teachers should create art. I think it’s super important that we make time. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just enough to make sure that we remember how we got to where we are.

One of the first teachers, when I first got hired, made it very clear to me that she felt it was the most important thing about being an art teacher is for us to acknowledge our skills. And so I have put that into the mind of all our teachers that I’ve come across and any conversation that we’ve had, I make sure that I talk about it. I want to know what is their specialty? What is your specialty? I want to remind you. Sometimes it’s really just a shake off rust. I get it because it’s really hard. It’s really hard to find time to make art, but sometimes you could really just sit next to your students and make art with them. That’s a big deal.

Look, there’s a major benefit to this. It’s really a great way to build trust with your students. We’re asking our students to do all lot, but if you could show them that you are capable of doing it and that you’re willing to do it alongside them, it’ll mean the world to them. So consider it. Plus, I’ll remind you, also no shade to math teachers or science teachers, but not every math teacher I’ve met is a mathematician. And not every science teacher I’ve met is a scientist, but every art teacher I’ve met is an artist. So you should celebrate that title. Don’t worry, like I said, I’ll remind you, what are my hopes and goals?

I want to make sure that I’m bringing you quality topics with specialist that can help me dissect and understand their areas of expertise. I like to bring on people. I kind of really love the idea of providing a platform for others. You probably heard, you never want to be the smartest person in the room. So I love to bring on people that I can learn from. So we’ll be learning together. I also just want to provide just enough information that’ll encourage you to want to learn more. It should be like breaking the ice of these conversations, right? It should be the beginning of some of these thoughts.

And the last thing, I really want to be an accessible host. So how is that possible? Well, through social media and interactivity. Part of building relationships is staying connected. I want to get to know you as listeners. And I really want to make sure that we keep a lot of these conversations going. They’re going to be pretty important for all of us. And so, why not keep the conversation going well beyond these 30 minutes or however long the episode might be. So you’ll find me engaging on Twitter and in the comments of so many other incredible art educators on Instagram. I’d like to connect there. I really do. Plus, I’d love to see all the student artwork. It makes me feel so happy just to see what everybody else is creating and where they’re creating.

It’s also really magical to see how happy other art teachers are and how proud they are of their students. It feels good to know that teachers are willing to celebrate their students. And so I want to see that and I want to help in any way that I can. All right. All right. All right. That’s enough about me.

So here’s where we part for now. I hope that this podcast can play a pivotal role in ensuring that the new year and remainder of the school year is smooth and experimental. I hope you feel motivated enough to take risks and safe enough to take breaks. I hope if you haven’t already, begin teaching with a critical lens while also finding time for joy in the classroom. This is going to be good. I look forward to connecting and learning with you.

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.