Professional Learning

Summer 2020 NOW Conference Preview (Ep. 229)

NOW conference week is finally here! With the conference coming up in just two days, AOEU’s Amanda Heyn joins Tim to preview everything coming up on Thursday. They talk about Amanda’s excitement for the week of professional development, the appearance of Peter Reynolds, and the presentations they are most looking forward to this time around.  Full episode transcript below.

Resources and Links


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.

I’ve been mentioning the NOW Conference a few times over the past few weeks, although probably not as much as I usually do in the weeks leading up to the conference. We’ve had some more important topics to cover recently. But finally it is time for the conference this week. It is finally here. So Thursday is the day of the conference, and honestly, I’m really excited about it. I am also really relieved because we’ve been planning this for the better part of six months. And just within the past couple of months here, we’ve had to adjust almost everything because of the uncertainty that is facing teachers everywhere right now. And we’re wondering how do we make the conference applicable to everything that teachers are facing in the moment? And so we’ve done our best to address that uncertainty.

A lot of our presenters will be sharing lessons for distance learning or ideas that work, whether you’re in person with your students, doing distance learning, or doing some type of hybrid between the two. And I think the best part of the conference for me usually, but especially this time around is just the chance for everyone to connect with other teachers. There’s so many things to talk about and I think those connections are going to be incredibly valuable this time around.

So all the downloads for the conference are ready for you. Resources are ready for you. The schedule is ready. Presenters are ready, including our featured presenter, Peter Reynolds. He was on Nic Hahn’s Everyday Art Room podcast about four weeks ago back at the beginning of the month. And it is a great listen. He will be even better than that, honestly, at the conference. I think everyone is going to love hearing from him.

And if you’ve not signed up yet, you probably need to remedy that situation. But you can go do it now at or just check the Art of Education University website. Plenty of places for you to sign up. Tomorrow will be the last day that you can register. And then Thursday will be the conference.

But today I’m going to talk to Amanda Heyn and about the conference, what we have upcoming this week and what we have planned. And you may be saying to yourself, “Hey, she was just up in the show, what, three weeks ago.” But she is going to be hosting the conference with me. We have some exciting stuff to share about the pre-conference, something new that we want to talk about. And also we have three amazing PRO packs coming out this weekend after the conference that are going to be incredibly helpful if you’re looking at distance learning this fall. So she is here, ready to chat about all of that. So let me bring her on. All right. Amanda Heyn is joining me now. Amanda, welcome back to the show. How are you?

Amanda: Thanks. I am doing well.

Tim: Good. We are all very excited because it is NOW conference week, and we’re two days away when this episode comes out, which is going to be thrilling for everybody. But before we talk about the conference, can we check in on PRO? Can you talk a little bit about the new learning packs that are coming out on Saturday I think?

Amanda: Yes, whatever the first is. Yeah, I can. I’m really excited about them. So we knew that this fall might be sketchy in terms of getting out. And so we did a lot of upfront work, a lot of packs in pre-production when they normally wouldn’t be to try to get some really relevant content out, and I’m really proud of the team, and I’m really excited to share them with everybody. So the first pack that’s going to be coming out is called Understanding the Logistics of Teaching Online. So this is by Abby Schukei, and it kind of takes a big picture view of what it takes to make online learning run smoothly. So all the different facets from using a learning management system to push out content all the way to delivering content via paper copies, if your students don’t have access to the internet.

And also I think another big part of this pack is sort of how to have the right mindset. Abby talks about being flexible with what your students have at home. This mindset could be applied to if you’re transitioning between in-person and online teaching and just sort of how to roll with the punches, shall we say?

And then another pack we have coming out is called Managing Working from Home During an Extended School Closure. So this is actually a pack that I created and I’m really proud of it. I hope that people find a lot of really great tips about working from a remote work environment. I was a classroom teacher for a lot of years and then I transitioned to working for AOEU. So I’ve actually been working at home just normally for about-

Tim: After a few years now.

Amanda: Yeah, six or seven years now. And it’s difficult in some ways in any situation, let alone in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. So I talk a lot about sort of working through your feelings about extended school closures, how to set up your workspace, how to maintain routines, create a daily schedule, manage expectations, all sorts of stuff. And I know that almost all of us have this lived experience that we did in the spring right when we had to teach from home. But I’m hoping this kind of help people refocus and maybe take a more intentional approach if they have time to plan instead of just being thrown into utter chaos. So there’s a lot of really great downloads in that pack as well about just like how to manage that situation. So I hope it’s helpful for people.

And then finally we have one about mixed media. So this was not created specifically for this situation, but I chose to release it this month because I think a lot of teachers are going to be working with mixed media. We don’t know what’s kids have at home. They might start something at school. We might transition to online learning where they have a totally different set of materials. And so it’s all about mixing different media to produce interesting effects. It’s by Jen Russell who loves mixed media. And you can just tell in this PRO pack that she has a ton of experience with it. And so I think it will be interesting for teachers to just learn about things that they might not have thought to put together, or give teachers a good framework for working with students who are exploring different medias on their own. I’m super excited about all three of them.

Tim: Yeah. There’s a lot of really good stuff there and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to preview all of them and they’re all spectacular. And I think you’ve done a good job of kind of meeting the moment. This is what people need right now. And I think they’re all going to be really helpful, which is also something we’re trying to do with the NOW conference. And I’ve talked about it off and on for the past, I don’t know, six weeks, two months here on the podcast, just everything that’s going to be happening with NOW, all the excitement. But I guess, can I just get your perspective? What are you excited about with conference? What do people need to know going into Thursday?

Amanda: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I have to say this is the first time I’ve been super heavily involved in the conference. I’m always involved in it in some way, but in terms of behind the scenes planning and being in with meetings and stuff, and I just I’m so excited for this conference. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall. People are rolling out plans. I have a feeling we’re not going to know until school starts, and even then it’s going to change maybe by the day or the week. So I think a lot of teachers right now are feeling scared and unsure, and it’s really tough to be in a position where you’re not getting great communication from leadership at local and higher levels, right? And so I think we need to be able to prepare teachers for a variety of scenarios to unfold during the start of school and throughout the year. So I’m just really excited.

The webinar series was amazing if our listeners have attended that in the past, kind of when everything was getting started with coronavirus. It was just really amazing to come together with other people in our exact same situation and sort of lift each other up and support each other. And while I’m glad we took a break from the webinars, totally took over our lives, I’ve been missing sort of that community feel. And so I think we’ve pulled together a really fun and engaging day to help teachers learn strategies that are going to help no matter the situation they’re in. So I’m just really excited to get together and brainstorm and learn from one another and just kind of be there with one another.

Tim: Yeah. And I think that’s kind of the cool thing about the conference where right now people are just in search of ideas for what to do and how to do this. And none of us have all of the answers. But I think a lot of us have an answer or two, if that makes sense. And so just being able to hear from 20 different people and take one idea from this person and two ideas from this person and really just kind of wrap it all up into what’s going to work for you and what’s going to work for your teaching situation. And I’m hoping that the conference can do that for people. And so I’m excited to put it all together and just to hear from everybody, like you said, the community aspect, touching base with all of the other art teachers and trying to figure out everything that will work for you in the fall.

Another thing that I’m really excited about with this is for the first time ever, we’re going to do the conference over Zoom. And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think people are a little more familiar with it after using it so much over the past few months. But can you just talk a little bit about why we’re nerding out over Zoom, why we’re so excited about what we’re going to put together?

Amanda: Well, I think the first reason is all the cool kids are doing it.

Tim: Yes!

Amanda: I mean, so we were forced to use Zoom for the webinar and before, I mean, behind the scenes insider info, we were nervous about it.

Tim: Yeah. We’re just kind of thrown into the deep end.

Amanda: Yeah. And we weren’t quite sure how it would work. We thought, “Oh, we’re going to try out the webinar feature. How is that different than a meeting feature?” All of this stuff. And it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we realized it was far superior to any other platform or there were definitely some improvements in different pieces of it. And so having to go through that sort of rough and tumble approach to it in the spring spurred us to look at it more seriously for our friends. And yeah, like you said, we’re super excited about it. Lots of people are comfortable with it, obviously because they’ve been on Zoom, just like you said. So there’s a familiarity level with it for people who maybe haven’t attended the conference before.

So another reason that this is so exciting is that we can also bring in some more live elements. So before the presenters were kind of a separate in a separate chat window, even than the regular chat window, and it’s going to be really cool. There’s going to be one chat. They’re going to be there and be able to answer questions directly. So I think that’s really exciting. And then the Zoom platform just feels more than the platform we’ve previously used because we’ve all been hanging out on Zoom anyway. So it kind of just feels really familiar as we’ve been doing tests on our end. It’s just like we’re hopping on another Zoom meeting. It feels really personal, which I think is really cool. And last but not least, there’s an Improve My Appearance filter that I’m really a big fan of. You see me on conference day. That is not what my skin really looks like, but I appreciate Zoom having that for me.

Tim: Oh, that’s hilarious. I love it. I have not checked out the Improve My Appearance filter.

Amanda: It really works.

Tim: So you may need to teach me that before the conference starts. So let me ask you about specifics. What presentations are you most looking forward to for this conference? Are there people in particular that you want to see?

Amanda: Yes, definitely. I mean, I want to see everybody, but I’m obviously very excited to see Peter Reynolds. So I am a personal fan of his. I used my books like I think every elementary art teacher ever in my classroom often, and now with my own kids. I was reading Sky Color a few nights ago to my kiddos. And I told my seven year old that I was going to be interviewing Peter Reynolds. And he thought that was so cool. And that’s a personal win for me on the home front. And then I’m also really excited about Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Did I say that right?

Tim: Yes.

Amanda: Okay. So I’m also a personal fan of hers. I remember being really personally affected when I learned about her Stop Telling Women to Smile project because that had happened to me and I couldn’t really put my finger on, like it wasn’t mean, and it wasn’t super invasive, but I couldn’t put my finger on why it made me feel the way I did. And so I just think she’s super thought provoking and empowering, and I’m looking forward to hearing what ideas she has about helping students use their own voices to create work about issues that feel important to them. So super excited about those two names.

And then Sarah Krajewski. I’ve gotten a sneak peek at her outline for her presentation, and I’m super excited about it because it’s all about creating a YouTube channel. And so this could obviously translate to pretty much any video platform, but it’s definitely something a lot of people are looking for and thinking about for the fall, because we all realize we may be in person, we may be online, but most of us are probably going to be going between the two over the year. And so I think flipping your instruction can be a really good tool, whether you’re in the classroom or out of it, and especially if you are doing both or going between the two models. And so Sarah has a lot of amazing videos that she created this spring right now up on her YouTube channel. If you search Sarah Krajewski or art room glitter fairy will get you there probably easier. So you can kind of check out what she has already done and then look forward to learning how she did it in her presentation.

And then finally Libby Beaty had some great ideas during our coronavirus webinars back in March and April and just, I mean, every time she would show an idea, people would lose their minds. She just is so innovative. She’s so good at engaging her students to share how they feel about what is really going on right now, which is a lot. And so I’m really looking forward to see how those ideas resonate with a wider audience, because I just think they’re so good.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. I will second all of those and I’m excited for a lot more, but we don’t have time to cover all that stuff. Just to suffice it to say like, all of these presentations are going to be great. And I think we have a great, great lineup coming. And then last thing before we go, we decided to add something that we’re very excited about our pre-conference, which is going to be taking place tomorrow night. So if you’re listening to this Tuesday or Wednesday, you still have time to sign up, check your email. But can you tell everybody, Amanda, what we have planned and what Wednesday night is going to be all about?

Amanda: Yes. So I don’t know about everyone else. I mean, I love going to conferences for the presentations. Let me just get that out of the way. And I love going to conferences for the social factor. It’s really fun and exciting to hang out in a group of all art teachers. I think any teachers, you put them together in a room and they immediately have a thousand things to talk about. And that’s even more true with art teachers I feel like. And so we’ve just been feeling like couldn’t get together in person for NIEA or state conferences for some of us this year, and lots of in person things have been canceled rightly so. So we’re super excited to add this social aspect to the conference because we miss talking to people.

So it’s going to be a three-hour event, and I’m just excited about all of it. But one thing I’m especially excited about is our drink menu. So it’s art and artists inspired cocktails and mocktails for you to choose from. The rum and Hoch is probably my favorite ones. If you don’t know Hannah Hoch, she’s a collage artist. And so all of them have fun planned words like that, and that was very fun to put together. So I’m excited to share that with people. And then during the first hour, we’re going to have a Price is Right game. And I always feel like the Price is Right for me personally it’s what I watched every time I was home sick from school in addition to Bob Ross. It has this really like… I don’t know. Just homey, soothing, uplifting feeling in my own self. So I hope other feel the same. I feel like it’s perfect for a pandemic.

So I’m very excited to host with you, Tim. And it’s definitely been a fun challenge to figure out how to do it via Zoom, but I think we’re going to have it out. I also love winning things. So I’m very excited that we’re going to be able to give away some prizes during that if that’s incentive for you to sign up. We are going to have audience participation. So the next hour we’re going to do dive into some more games, hopefully, and then hour three, we’re going to hopefully have a Netflix watch party. So if you’re listening and you don’t know what that is, it’s everybody gets together in sort of a virtual room and watches the same movie and you can kind of chat as the movie progresses and it’s super fun. So if you’re interested in hanging out with us in that way, you’ll need a Netflix account and then a Netflix party Google Chrome extension and a computer of some kind. I don’t think it works on a mobile device, but don’t quote me on it.

Tim: Yeah. We’ll have to double check. I think you’re correct on that. But it is going to be a very, very exciting night. So we’re hoping everybody can join us, but for now, we’re going to go ahead and end this interview and go finish our preparation and get everything ready for Wednesday and Thursday. So Amanda, thank you so much for chatting with us and hopefully we can talk to you again soon.

Amanda: Yeah. Sounds good. Bye.

Tim: Thank you to Amanda for coming on and thank you to everyone who signed up for the conference. Hoping to see you at the pre-conference on Wednesday evening, tomorrow night, and again, all day Thursday for the NOW conference. It is going to be an amazing day of professional development.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering by Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you at the conference Thursday, and we’ll 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.