Making Connections Through Instagram Live (Ep. 280)

As we move into another school year, it is important to remember where we can find community and where we can make connections. One great way to do that is to tune in to AOEU’s Instagram Live shows, hosted by Sarah Krajewski. Sarah is on the podcast today to talk about the artists and creatives she brings on the show, some of her favorite guests, and why it’s important to give art teachers a place to connect.  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. One of the things I have really enjoyed the summer and well, I guess really enjoyed for the last year or so is watching the Instagram live interviews that we have on the Art of Ed’s Instagram page. Now, I’ll be honest with you, Instagram is not my social media of choice, which I know I’m missing out on some important things by not being there, but I have been getting on every week to watch Sarah Krajewski’s interviews with art teachers, and artists and authors and other creatives that come on and talk to her. I really enjoyed this last week’s chat where Sarah talked to Amanda O’Shaughnessy. You probably know Amanda from PRO and podcast interviews and NOW conferences and maybe even her Instagram, but she is an expert when it comes to printmaking.

In the live show, she shared her experience teaching printmaking techniques to kids, teaching them to adults. She has just so many tips and tricks and new ideas to make printmaking run a little bit more smoothly in your classroom. That’s definitely worth checking out if that’s of interest to you, but I thought it would be enjoyable to talk to Sarah today about how she got started doing the Instagram live shows and maybe share some just fun stories from behind the scenes and what she does to get everything going with these shows.

Before we do that, though, I want to tell you to be on the lookout for something really cool that we have coming in the next couple of weeks. It’s a new YouTube series called 1-2-3 A-R-T. It’s all about teaching kindergartners as they’re coming into the art room for the first time. As we know, because of the pandemic, some kindergartners have literally never gone to school before. They’ve never been in a classroom setting. Lindsey Moss and I talked about that on the podcast last month. It was really an eye-opening moment for me.

In this new series, she’s going to share some of her best strategies on how to help those kindergartners in the art room. Lindsay will be on the Everyday Art Room podcast on Thursday talking about that topic. You can also subscribe to the AOEU YouTube channel, so you can see when those videos are first released. If you share them with the elementary teachers who you know can use them, that will be very much appreciated by them and by us too. We really think there are some interesting things that we need to think about, some strategies that we can implement, and hopefully. Lindsey has put together some ideas that will be really helpful for people. Give it a watch, give it a share. I think that’ll be good for all involved. All right, Sarah is here. She’s tired of me talking about YouTube and she is ready to go. All right. Sarah Krajewski is back on the show again. Sarah, how are you?

Sarah: I am doing great. How are you, Tim?

Tim: I am also great. We have lots to talk about, but in particular, I want to talk about Instagram live because it’s popular. You’re popular. It’s a good show. I guess, if we go back to the beginning when things first started, how did everything get started with Instagram live?

Sarah: To bring you back just a little bit, so our Instagram live show is something we host every Monday, usually in the evening after school. Most of the time I have a guest on the show, whether it’s an art teacher, a creative, an artist, somebody that has something to share and that can be a good conversation about the art education world. Probably, about a year ago at this point, at that time I was a writer and I was speaking with our editor and Abby Schukei, our social media manager. We were just talking about how we could get more content out faster that doesn’t need to be edited and posted, and all these extra things. We were thinking about what can we do that can be a right now content?

We were discussing, especially in the midst of the pandemic, people wanted to talk about what was going on, how do we return to learn, how do we try art on a cart? What can we give people to start a conversation and answer questions, or at least brainstorm together about things that they didn’t know about? Abby and myself started hosting some chats, just gave some information about what we were going to do in our classroom, tried to answer some questions and then it sort of just blossomed from there. We’ve been asking more art teachers on the show, more artists, and it is a staple. Something that I look forward to, and I’m always on the hunt for new exciting people to chat with. It’s been about, I would say about a year. So far, we’ve had 45 guests on the show. Well, 45 lives, I guess, a couple that didn’t have guests, but 45 and some really amazing guests, people from all over the world. It’s been super cool and only hoping to grow it.

Tim: That’s awesome. Out of all of those dozens of guests, that is a lot, do you have a couple, three favorites that you’ve had on, or can you talk a little bit about why you enjoy chatting with them?

Sarah: Oh, absolutely. I mean, some of favorite things are just hunting for people and connecting because I love chatting with people about what they love.

Tim: Do you just endlessly scroll through Instagram, thinking I need to talk to this person?

Sarah: I mean, kind of, sort of. People will send me stuff and I’m like, … Now I’m always working, which is fun, but also a burden a little bit because I’m always on the hunt for it. I do have like a little folder that just is artists that would be fun to talk to, educators that would be fun to talk, ar teachers. There’s been some really, really great conversations. I try to add some variety over what artists I speak to. Some that have really stuck out to me, loved chatting with Jason Naylor, beautiful graffiti artist from New York. His stuff is so positive.

Tim: Yes. I remember you were so excited.

Sarah: I was so psyched.

Tim: You just messaged everybody, like “Guys, guess what? Guess what? Jason Naylor’s coming on.”

Sarah: That’s because I was so psyched. I’ve been following him for so long. He was so nice. He was like, “Yeah, of course, I’ll do it.” Jason was really fun. I also loved Jen Duffin. She’s a wonderful fiber artist who has these big, beautiful rainbow pieces, and a lot of amazing stuff to chat with in regards to fiber. Then I’ve also loved my conversations with people that are creatives, but are not necessarily in the art education world.

My friend Alexis Dean, who is a hip-hop artist and he does clean rap for kids and he was a 4k teacher. He was amazing. My friend, Felicia, and she is a graffiti artist. There’s been really some fun ones. I mean, the list goes on. It’s been really amazing to try to find different artists that have a voice they want to share and some really cool conversations. I think some of my favorite conversations that people are interested in and are talking about, we had Mitch Miller on and they talked about exploring gender identity through their abstract painting. That was really cool because we got to ask some questions that we maybe don’t know as much about.

Then Steph Littlebird, she’s Art Nerd Forever on Instagram, and she is an indigenous artist that does some contemporary painting. Her conversation around cultural appropriation and how you can be inspired by her work, but use it in the classroom in an appropriate way was so helpful. It’s like those questions that you think about as an art teacher. What makes the most sense? What’s going to be appropriate for my classroom? Then taking it into the real world and just watching a conversation between an artist and an educator. That’s why I love IG live is because it’s a little more informal. You’re still hosting and having a conversation, but you’re just talking and you get to ask those questions and people get to be in the chat a bit, so that’s what I love about it.

Tim: I think that’s really cool. Now, we talked about your endless scrolling and saving who you want to talk to you, but do you have certain criteria that you look… How do you choose your guests? Is it just I think these people have cool work? Is it I think we have good topics to talk about? How do you make those decisions and decide who you want to?

Sarah: Great question. I think a lot of it is I definitely look into what’s the content that that individual is sharing? Is it something that I think art teachers, or artists or creatives will be excited about? Does it excite me? I know that that’s specifically me, but I try to… Just like when you’re designing your curriculum, you don’t want to just have everything be one lane, especially elementary level. You’re not just going to teach painting or just teach ceramics, but you’re going to really try to give it a breadth. I always try to find people with diverse voices, people with different mediums that they’re working with. I’m hoping to have more people from all over the world that can share more voices. I try as best I can to find guests that have something amazing to share, have a great positive attitude and they are willing to share, but then also are things that I think art teachers want to know about.

Tim: Yeah, for sure. Speaking of that idea, just what art teachers want to know about. I know you mentioned the ideas they kind of explored with, gender identity, with appropriation, which I think are really important, but are there topics like that, that come up a lot or things that you keep coming back to? I don’t know. Can you just talk about some of the big picture things that get discussed a lot on your IG live?

Sarah: For sure. I mean, the question I always end with when I talk to every single guest is what advice or words of encouragement, or what do you want to share with people who are watching the live today or later? Because we usually have a handful of people watching it live, but then we’ll get thousands of people tuning in after the live. I always want to see what the artist, or art teacher or guest wants to share to encourage people to move forward and what has helped them. It doesn’t even need to be a word of encouragement for art teachers specifically, or about the art education world, but instead, what’s going to help us to be good humans?

I think the most important thing is a criteria of a person that has a generous and excited sharing opinion. They want to share and they want to spread that positivity. Like I said, always trying to look for diverse voices, people that are creating art in a different way, but then also we’re an art education university so I got to hear from the art teachers too. It’s only one once a week show, so to think about the fact that, okay, there’s only four a month, how do you pick? Is trying to schedule that a bit so that there’s, each month, maybe one or two art teachers, a couple of different artists, people from different, places working with different mediums. That’s sort of how I view it a little bit, but of course, as we know, sometimes scheduling doesn’t always work the exact same way where you’re trying to get everybody in to chat and we just got to go from there.

Tim: No, that’s fine. That makes sense. Then can you talk a little bit about plans for the future, either short-term or long-term? What do you have coming up? What are you looking forward to with this?

Sarah: For sure. There are a lot of amazing guests coming up. One that I’m super excited about. We’ll see when this gets released, but you’ll definitely need to listen to Jonathan Jurewicz’s podcast, The Art of SEL, but I’m going to be interviewing him on IG live as well to talk about the podcast in just to talk about how much we’re going to need social and emotional learning and how we can use that trauma-informed teaching in our classroom. I’m super, super excited to learn more about that because that’s something I already use in my classroom, but I want to know more about it. I know that’s going to be basically our job. It already kind of is, but it’s like that’s going to be what it’s all about. That’s one thing we’re really looking forward to.

I know that Instagram has the ability to go live with multiple people in a room, so hoping to do maybe some bigger group chats with a group of artists or art educators and seeing if we can get some of those bigger conversations started. Then also just encouraging everybody to join the lives live, like you’re attending a conference because it’s even more fun when people drop in questions for the artist or the art teacher, or when they comment on something or what’s being said because it’s encouraging to know that the content that we’re creating in the conversation we’re having is something people want to hear. I’m excited to get people more watching the live and then of course, sharing those things out with art education world.

One little thing that I’ve done to try and make people join the live is a little bribery with my sticker, but we have these really cool holographic rainbow stickers that have the Art of Ed palette logo on it. It’s just this big art-

Tim: I’m still trying to get one.

Sarah: I know.

Tim: I work here. I’ve worked here forever. Still don’t have a sticker.

Sarah: They’re very exclusive for people that watch the Instagram live. As you’re watching it at the end, I ask a trivia question in regards to the guest that we have for the day. If you’ve been watching the live and you’re the first person to answer, then I’ll mail you a sticker. It’s a fun way to have more people in the chat watching and trying to encourage people to be there, to share in that moment.

Tim: I’m just noticing things like that that we do with the NOW conference, it’s great to have people watching live because there’s a whole conversation, there’s a whole community going on in the chat, along with whatever happens to be on the screen at that moment. I think that’s really powerful, especially for our teachers because so many of us are alone. So many of us teach by ourselves, and so just making those connections, I think is a really cool thing.

Sarah: It’s almost like a second conference, I feel like. The chat itself is an entirely different… I mean, it’s about the conference, but it’s like its own conversation because this is where the community happens. The bonding, and the giggling, and laughing and all these things happen in the experience of what’s going on and then all of the content, other presentations happens after.

Tim: Absolutely. I guess to close up shop, how can everybody find this? I know you mentioned it before, but now that people are convinced that they need to be part of this community, where can they find you?

Sarah: Absolutely. On Instagram is where we host our Instagram lives. However, we do also post them to our YouTube channel. The lives after the fact are posted there and on Facebook. If you just want to be a receiver of information, but not as much part of the chat, you can check those out after the fact. Like I said, every Monday evening, we host the lives on the Instagram page for the Art of Ed, which is at the Art of Ed. I would highly encourage people if they want, if they don’t have already have an Instagram, you don’t have to feel pressured to post things for your classroom, to do an art teacher page if that’s not really your thing. If you just create an account so you can take in information, that is also totally okay. I post stuff all the time on my Art Room Glitter Fairy account, but sometimes it’s like, oh, I got to keep up with this. You can totally just be a content consumer, and just be there to take in the wonderful conversations that we’re having with the Art of ED and that’s totally acceptable.

Tim: That’s exactly what I do. I have had an Instagram account. I don’t go on a lot because I don’t love social media, but yeah, I do watch and I’ve never posted a thing.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly. There’s no pressure to do that. I think that’s the nice thing is knowing you can set up your social media life and what you want to intake in your own way, whatever works for you in your life.

Tim: Awesome. Thank you, Sarah. It was great to talk to you and we’ll see you on Instagram on Monday.

Sarah: Absolutely. We’ll see you there.

Tim: If you want a boost of inspiration or some good ideas, or even just want to listen to a quality conversation about art or about art teaching, check out any one of the interviews that Sarah has done. Scroll through the Art of Ed’s Instagram feed. You’ll be able to find so many great ones to watch. Go check it out. I know this has been a quick episode today, but really, I’m just giving you more time to go watch Sarah and any of her guests. Follow the Art of Ed on Instagram if you aren’t already. Check out the YouTube channel, as I talked about in the intro and make sure you just keep an eye out for what’s upcoming. We have a lot of great things planned for you.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering by Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening and of course, we will be back next week. I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to school this year, why it’s so hard for everyone and why we are all still just exhausted. If I can get all those thoughts organized coherently, then I’ll do my best to put together an episode for next Tuesday. We’ll talk to you then.

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.