Leaving 2020, Looking Forward to 2021 (Ep. 248)

With the first episode of the year, Tim says goodbye to 2020 and begins to talk about what could be coming in 2021. After some time reflecting on the situation we found ourselves in during the past year, Tim looks ahead to some exciting happenings in the new year. 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.

Welcome to the first episode of Art Ed Radio of 2021. I don’t know that I can… I guess more specifically or more accurately, I don’t know if I want to put a nice, neat bow on 2020 or try to talk about the lessons we’ve learned or what we can do to be better teachers in the future. But I do want to spend a little bit of time talking about our mindset as we move into the new year. And more importantly, I want to highlight some great things that have been happening at the end of this year, and I want to share with you some of the things that I’m excited about moving into the new year.

Let me just say this. I have been ready for 2020 to be over since I don’t know, April, I guess. The entire year has required so much patience and so much perseverance. There’s this feeling of, we can do this, we can get through this. In March and April, we did the coronavirus webinars with AOEU, which turned out to be an awesome experience. Teachers were coming together to help each other, to share ideas, to support each other, to build community. It was great. We felt like we had so much momentum. We were going to finish out the school year strong, we were going to go into the next school year with so many new ideas and so many great things on the horizon. Except, nothing really changed. It was just this feeling of stasis for months. Maybe we would take a step forward here and there, but then it was inevitably followed by a step back. Time keeps passing, but teachers continue to be stuck in this near impossible situation.

We’re getting through the challenges. We always do because we are teachers, but it hasn’t been easy. We’re still finding our way. We’re still learning how to do this. I think it’s important to note that we are having a lot of success, our students are still learning. But I think it’s safe to say we’re almost all ready for something different. Now, personally, I am ready for what comes next and I’m looking forward to 2021 with a lot of hope. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But I think it’s important to have something to look forward to at all times. That’s what I’ve been doing. Even as one of the world’s biggest introverts, I personally, I am ready to get out into the world and go out and see people, and have life get back to normal. However, I have no idea how long that is going to take. Are we back to normal by March? By the end of the school year? By the beginning of next school year? I really don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows.

And so because of that, I want to approach things a little more step-by-step, taking things in smaller doses and slowly getting through the year like we have been doing over the past months. That thought brings me to the idea of new year’s resolutions. It’s not something I’ve ever done. I don’t really make new year’s resolutions. For me, and this may be overly cynical, but it seems weird to me to just pick an arbitrary date on the calendar and start right then, making myself better. But I know it works for a lot of people, that idea of a fresh start, the chance to do things a new and the chance to strive for improvement. It can be really worthwhile. I never want to make people feel bad for wanting to improve themselves, wanting to make themselves better because it’s a good thing. Any type of improvement, any type of bettering is going to be worthwhile. It’s a natural impulse to want more for ourselves, to want better for ourselves, and that’s always worth striving for.

But for me, I was thinking about this. Is this a time to make a resolution? Is it time to start something new? Honestly, I came to the conclusion that I feel so exhausted from 2020 that I don’t know that I have the energy to work on doing more in the new year. That got me thinking/ I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, obviously. It got me thinking about what maybe we can let go of and what we don’t have to pressure ourselves with as we move into the new year. Instead, can we prioritize relaxing and releasing, and letting things go? Can we get rid of the guilt for not being the best teacher this year or not being the best parent or not being the best professional this past year? Can we just appreciate the fact that we’ve gotten through the year? That we have developed some new skills? Can we just be okay with that?

I Hope that we can. I think that’s a great mindset to have. Just let go of some of the pressures, let go of some of the stressors. Fight for improvement if that works for you, but find the little things that you appreciate from 2020, and look forward to the little things that bring you joy, that help you get through the day, the things that you can anticipate and look forward to in 2021. In that spirit, I want to spend some time sharing about the things that caught my attention at AOEU at the end of 2020, and talk about some of the things that I’m looking forward to in 2021. All right now, December was just an incredible month of new things at AOEU and worthwhile things that I think are worth your time, that are worth paying attention to. I think one of the highlights for me was watching Sarah Krajewski every week on Instagram live. She is a wonderful host.

We’ve had a few different hosts in the time that we’ve been doing Instagram live over the past few months, at least doing it a little more regularly. But Sarah Krajewski has just done an incredible job with everything related to Instagram live. Fantastic host, bringing on great guests, talking about great topics. She did a wonderful one with Jason Naylor just last week. He is a really popular Instagram artist. He’s got all sorts of bright, colorful work. He’s got a great message. They talked for, I think, 45 minutes. It was a really, really interesting interview, a really worthwhile interview. I believe you can still find it on Instagram. I think it’s on Facebook as well. So that’s definitely worth checking out and definitely worth giving a watch.

As far as podcasts, I had a really fun one that I enjoyed a few weeks back with Nick Davis. He’s a great artist from Florida, doing amazing portraits, just masterful skill and use of color and use of emotion in those portraits. His work is in the same vein of a lot of his big influences that I really love. Kerry James Marshall, and Carol Walker, and Kehinde Wiley, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I love seeing sort of new work that takes all of those ideas and all of those influences and turns it into something new. His digital paintings are incredible. I love just talking to him. I think checking out his work is definitely going to be worth your time. If you missed that interview, go back to the introducing Nick Davis episode of Art Ed Radio and give that a listen. Like I said, he was wonderful to talk to. He creates great work, and it’s definitely worth checking out, probably worth showing to your students. He does so many good things and he’s got a really distinct style that I think is really appealing.

Speaking of more podcasts, Nic Hahn just wrapped up 2020 with a great podcast that sort of went through a narrative of her year, talking about everything that happened to her in 2020 and can reflect it on what we’ve all learned over the past year. I think that’s definitely worth listening to as well. Also, a couple articles on AOEU that I want to highlight. I think one of my favorite things I read, AOEU or otherwise in December, it was just a really quick article by Abby [Schukei 00:10:39] but it’s really good. I don’t know, give me a lot of good feelings. It was really fun to read. It got me to think, it got me to reflect about everything that’s going on. But the article is called Things I Never Thought I’d Miss, But I Do. She goes through to talk about how it’s been a weird year, but there are a lot of things about art teaching, a lot of things about our unique situation that I think we all miss that we all kind of enjoy. Yeah, just the things that we don’t have in this weird year. It made us appreciate what great jobs we had.

But anyway, I want to read a quick excerpt from the beginning of the article. She said, “If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected. Most of us never envisioned early school shutdowns or teaching our students online for longer than desired. Frankly, 2020 has been exhausting for teachers. We’ve lived in a constant cycle of what ifs and inconvenient changes of the unknown. What we’ve been asked to do is not what we signed up for. Art educators have been through collective trauma. With so little in our control, some of us are left wondering if we’ll ever find joy in teaching again. While we still get to teach art to our students, this year isn’t the same. We long for the normalcy we once knew. You might even find yourself asking, will teaching art ever feel normal again?”

I think that speaks to some really big questions. Like, do we still find joy in our jobs? Is there still something to look forward to? After reading that article, I think there’s a collective answer of yes for most of us because she reminisces about what she misses in the art room and talks about the things she can’t wait to get back to when things are back to normal. Like unloading drying racks and unclogging glue bottles, and just being in your classroom and being on your feet all day and working with kids, just getting back to what we normally do as art teachers. I think once we can do that, we will appreciate those little things. We’ll find joy in unexpected places. That article made me really optimistic about what could be coming.

And then another great article was by Jordan DeWilde, talking about how to support others right now whether that is our students, or our colleagues, or our families, or artists in our community or anyone else we run into. He offers a lot of practical and worthwhile advice for all of us that want to offer support and offer empathy for those around us. So make sure you check out both of those. We’ll link to them in the show notes and we’ll give you a chance to read those because I think they’re a great way to close out the year, reflect on what has happened, what is happening, and what we can do to bring a little more joy into our lives as we think about what has happened.

The other thing I like to do, as I mentioned, to help keep my spirits up, help with positivity, help find that joy is to look forward, look for the things that are going to bring you enjoyment, things that you’re going to appreciate, things that you’re going to love that are coming in the near future. Now, for me, this is super nerdy and exciting, but there’s a new pack in Art Ed Pro or in Pro that is all about copyright in the art room, and that was just released. I was the facilitator for this. I recorded it quite a while back. Even though it maybe isn’t the most exciting topic in the world for most people, I love it and I did my best to make it relevant and make it interesting. I talked about all the cool copyright loopholes you can get away with because you’re a teacher. I talked about Shepard Fairey and his copyright case with the Obama hope poster in 2008, which I think illustrates a lot of important points in a real and tangible way.

Your kids probably are too young to remember, but they know a lot of the main players… Shepard Fairey is still working. Everyone still knows who Obama is. And so, it’s a good way to illustrate. It’s a good avenue to get into a lot of those ideas about copyright that your kids need to know. But I also talked about what your students need to know about copyright and how you can actually make it interesting in your classroom. Maybe most importantly, some strategies on how you can get your kids less reliant on just making art or copying things that they see online, and get them actually creating interesting and original work. Like I said, you may not be as nerdy as me and loving copyright as much as I do. But if you are a Pro member, that learning pack is definitely going to be worth your time.

Second thing that I’m looking forward to in the new year, we have some new writers for the AOEU magazine. You’ll see some articles coming up on the website. Jonathan Juravich and Christine Woywod Veettil. Christine has been on the academic side of things at AOEU for a little while, but she is an absolute pro. She has so many great ideas for you to learn from. I’m really looking forward to everything that she’s going to publish. And of course, Jonathan Juravich is super familiar to a lot of people. He was the Ohio State teacher of the year in 2018, one of the finalists for national teacher of the year. He has been on the podcast multiple times. He has been part of the webinars that we did. He has been at our conference doing so many wonderful things. He’s very popular and I’m super excited that people can begin to hear from him on a more regular basis, so that should be a lot of fun.

And then for me, the biggest thing that’s coming up, and the thing that you’ll hear me talk about all through January is something I love, and that is the Now conference that’s going to be happening February 6th. As you probably know, this is something that I do twice per year, put together the entire conference. It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun and there are so many great learning opportunities for teachers that come along with that. We’ve tried to make it as enjoyable as possible. That’s maybe why I’m looking forward to it so much. I think a big part of it, a big part of the fun was the pre-conference that we did.

We did it for the first time in July. It was something that we needed back then as we’re sort of approaching a new year that we didn’t know what it was going to look like, a new school year that had so much uncertainty. And so, just an evening, a couple hours of games and fun and some comradery and community with other art teachers, it’s something that we need in the middle of winter right now. If you’re attending the conference, you’ll see some emails coming through about the pre-conference. Make sure you come to that. I’m really looking forward to hosting that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Amanda, my co-host, and I have some really, really cool things planned and we think it’s going to be really enjoyable.

Of course, the conference itself is going to be just a blast. We are going to talk about so many different topics that are relevant and important to what’s happening this school year. We’re going to talk about creativity, we’re going to talk about keeping your passion for teaching. We’re going to talk about creating an environment where your kids can thrive no matter what your teaching situation is. We’re going to talk about mental health for you, for your students. We’re going to talk about ideas for tech, and we’re going to take the chance to do a bunch of art making. We’re going to do some mono printing, some painting. We’re going to build some sculptures, we’re going to do some drawing, just so many different things. A lot of really good opportunities for art making that I’m really looking forward to.

The other thing is just the excitement of having a live conference day. July was the first time we’ve ever done live interviews and have live online presenters. We’re going to do that again. It’s going to be great. Don’t get me wrong. There is something to be said for watching videos on your own time, but I think there’s something more exciting about getting together with other art teachers, talking to them in real time and experiencing everything together. It feels different that way and it is a great feeling. I love all of the energy that that brings. I love all of the learning that happens. I guess here’s my pitch for this episode. If you haven’t signed up for the Now conference, go to the AOEU website, do that today. You will not regret it. You will love the energy. You’ll love the learning that happens. It’s going to be a great event on February 6th and you will want to be a part of it.

Now. I’m sure there are so many more things to look forward to in 2021. But like I said in the beginning, I think it’s important to take things a little bit at a time. We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get back to normal this year. So in the meantime, I think we need to appreciate what we have. We need to let go of what we don’t need, and we need to find joy. We need to find fulfillment a little bit at a time as we keep moving forward. Here’s to everyone who has stuck with us through this long, long year. I appreciate everyone who listens to this podcast, and I hope we’ve helped you even just a little bit make it through the year and help you get to 2021. It’s going to be a good year.

Art Ed Radio is produced by The Art of Education University with audio engineering by Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening, and we will talk to you 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.