Professional Learning

Tim and Amanda Preview the NOW Conference (Ep. 326)

The Summer NOW Conference will be here in just 8 days! Amanda Heyn joins Tim today to talk about their preparation for the conference, their excitement about the new changes to the event, and how teachers can make the most of their professional learning on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday next week.

Join us at the NOW Conference on July 27th, 28th, and 29th, where we will share three days of PD that will have you excited and ready for the school year to come! Full Episode Transcript Below.

Resources and Links


Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by the Art of Education University. I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

We have been planning and preparing for the Summer NOW Conference for quite a while NOW, and next week it will finally be here. And as we always say about the NOW Conference, it’s going to be an incredible chance for you to take in some professional learning and maybe more importantly, a chance to spend some time with your favorite Art teacher community. So if you have not signed up for the conference and you still want to do that, please do so quickly. Next Wednesday is going to be the final day to register and you can register at the AOEU website. Everything you need to know about the conference is there. You can find all the information you need. And our customer engagement team is spectacular. They can help you with any questions you have.

Today though, my favorite NOW conference collaborator and co-host and co-conspirator, Amanda Heyn, is here to talk to me about the conference kickoff that we’re going to put on next Wednesday, the main event on Thursday, and the after pass on Friday. All making up the Summer 2022 NOW conference. Let me bring her on. All right, Amanda Heyn is back on the show. Amanda, how are you?

Amanda: I am fantastic. How are you, Tim?

Tim: I am also fantastic. The NOW conference is coming very soon. Thrilled about it as always. And, of course, excited to bring you back so we can chat about everything that’s coming this conference. But before we do that, for those longtime listeners, you’ve not been on the show since last time we had a conference.

Amanda: No, it’s been six months.

Tim: Yeah. We had a long discussion back then about the shoebill stork if you remember.

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: And so, I guess, can you just update everyone who’s listening on your new adventures on discovering and seeing the shoebill stork?

Amanda: Yes. Okay. So first I want to apologize to anybody that had nightmares. I know we had a few listener emails. So very sorry if I was the first one to introduce you to the shoebill stork. I also want to say the universe works in mysterious ways because shortly after we recorded that, we went to spring break in Florida to visit some family. And I was looking around for things to do. And I discovered there was a zoo there and I was like, oh, that’s great. I have young kids, a zoo would be great. And then I was poking around the website and I saw a shoebill stork. And I was like, this can’t be real. This can’t be happening to me. And I was like, well, maybe that’s just on the website to entice people to come to the zoo. It can actually be-

Tim: The shoebill stork is not enticing anyone to come to the zoo.

Amanda: I was enticing me. And I Googled it, and sure enough, this zoo has three out of the four shoebill storks in the entire United States of America. And I was like, hey, do you guys want to go to the zoo? And my husband was like, I don’t know, it’s going to be really hot. I was like, I think it’s going to be really fun if we go to the zoo. I don’t know. The kids wanting to swim, we’re in Florida. We live in Wisconsin. So anyway, long story short, I convinced them to go to the zoo. We get to the zoo and there are signs that parts of the zoo is closed. And I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve come all this way. But then it was open. It was probably one of the highlights of my entire life. I literally lost my breath. And my kids, I had hyped them up because I had told them about the shoebill stork. I had showed it to them. They were coloring it, the murder dinosaur bird.

Tim: Accurate. Accurate.

Amanda: Accurate. And so they were like, we’re going to see the murder dinosaur bird. They just kept chanting it. And so they were very excited when we got there. But then they got really annoyed. I did not want to leave. I was like, I’m having a moment with these birds.

Tim: Once in a lifetime opportunity. Yeah.

Amanda: Yeah. I will say, you know how I thought they weren’t real at first? When I saw them on Instagram, I was like, this has to be CGI or something. So I will say they didn’t move a lot. And I was like, okay, these are animatronic birds, but I think they were real. I think they were real. The final verdict is that they were unsettling and beautiful and mysterious. And honestly, they were a little less scary in person than in the photograph. So go to Zoo Tampa if you want to have an amazing bird encounter.

Tim: Okay. Good to know.

Amanda: I think it also helped they were in a cage. They were contained.

Tim: Yeah. I was going to say maybe they weren’t scary because you didn’t see them move.

Amanda: Right. And I didn’t encounter one in the wild. But they’ve been showing up in my dreams weirdly. I don’t know. If we have any dream experts listening, I’d like to know what that means.

Tim: Can I just say that being, if I get your words right here, unsettling, beautiful, and mysterious, that’s life goals. Honestly, life goals.

Amanda: True. That’s so true. They had a really good vibe, a really good vibe. Yeah.

Tim: All right. Let’s chat about the conference.

Amanda: Okay.

Tim: We have been trying to expand what we’re doing. We’ve been trying to find really cool locations to put on the conference, and COVID just keeps canceling our plans over and over. But we are finally, finally going to Chicago. We’re going to be hosting NOW from Chicago, which I personally am very excited about. But can you tell me your feelings about the event, that we finally get to travel and put on NOW from somewhere pretty cool?

Amanda: I’m so excited. Not that the meat machine and all of Osage is not amazing, but I’m really excited to be in an artistic location with the Art Institute and the Modern Art Museum. Sorry, the Contemporary Art Museum. Which one is it? Modern? Contemporary?

Tim: It is the Museum of Contemporary Art MCA Chicago.

Amanda: It’s so good. I love it. I really should know its name. But anyway, it’s one of my favorite cities and I’m really excited to bring everybody along on another Instagram adventure on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re going to give you even more insight into Tim’s weird food habits. If you watched last time and know about Tim’s weird burritos, so make sure you follow us on Instagram.

Tim: Can I just say I got a lot of compliments about my food habits? People really, really appreciated, I mean, a lot of people thought they were weird because they were, but I got a lot of compliments as well. So I don’t know if we want to do the blanket statement that I have weird habits.

Amanda: I mean, if you say so. I didn’t see the comments. For anybody listening, I didn’t read those. Anyway, there’s a lot of new things to navigate in terms of logistics, but I’m just really excited to be in a new space. We’re actually going to run the conference from an art museum, so that’s really cool. I think it’ll just be really, a really fun new twist on what we usually do. So do you have any additional thoughts there?

Tim: No. Well, I mean just, I love being in Chicago. It’s an incredible city and I’m excited to travel there. And I think that yeah, like you said, it gives us the opportunity to do some new and different things, which we’re always trying to do, always looking to do. And so just in short, I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I think it should be really good. So, yeah. So check out our adventures the week of the conference as we’re hanging out and getting ready, and we’ll share as much as we can with everybody.

Amanda: Yes, definitely.

Tim: Okay. So speaking of new things, of exciting things, we have a huge change coming to the conference. It’s not even a change, just a huge addition coming to the conference. We have an entire extra day of asynchronous learning. And I would love to talk about that because in the past, we’ve done an after pass that has a handful of videos, two or three or four extra things that maybe allow presenters to talk a little bit more about what they’re doing or just a couple small individual lessons that extend your learning at the conference. But this time, we’re doing an entire day with an extra 15 videos and just a lot of opportunities for teachers to learn on their own as a third day for the conference. I guess without me rambling too much, I’d love to just ask you what are the benefits of that asynchronous learning that you see? What do you think teachers who are attending can get out of that?

Amanda: Yeah. I’m just so excited that we can do this for teachers. The past few years have been so difficult, which is an understatement. I don’t even have the words to describe, right, what it has been like. And it feels really wonderful to just essentially double the size of our conference. So first, a shout out to you, Tim, because when I had this idea, you were like, yes, let’s do it. And you’re the one who had to do all of the work to get us there, so everybody say thanks to Tim. But I think the main benefit is that there’s just more specialized content, so presentations on the live conference day. As always, we’ll have something for everyone. We really try to make them as applicable to as many teaching situations as possible. But then you can really dive into some specific types of content in the after pass.

Tim: Yeah. Can I interrupt really quick?

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: Talk up a couple things. Yeah, I’m excited about that because we have some really specific types of learning like you said. We have an entire presentation about using Chromebooks for making art, which is really good for a lot of teachers. We have something about printmaking for really young students. We have something about exploring different media for older advanced students. We have things that are specific to middle school. And so if you’re looking for something in particular, whether it’s a particular medium or a particular grade level where we’re really able to, like you said, drill down into specific ideas and hopefully everybody can find at least one, but preferably multiple things that very much apply to your specific situation or what you are looking for. So I’m excited that we are able to put all that together.

Amanda: Yes, definitely. I also think it gives teachers more flexibility in how they consume the content. So as always, you have an entire year to watch any of the presentations. So if you’re someone who is overwhelmed, maybe you’re already overwhelmed by the NOW Conference and now you’re like, wait a minute. What the heck? We have even more to look at? You can work through things at your own pace this summer or even into next school year. And also I wanted to highlight, we also even have content for administrators. So I’m really excited to support teachers in this new avenue by supporting the people they work with and helping them understand why our teachers are vital to the school culture and what their specific needs are, so that’s really exciting in a new addition this year also.

Tim: Yeah. I think that’s going to be great. So if you’re coming, yeah. Figure out a way that you can share those videos with your administrators because that’ll be worthwhile. And any administrators who are listening to this and planning on coming to the conference, we love having you. So we’re very excited that you’re joining us.

Amanda: Yes. Definitely.

Tim: Okay. We also need to talk about the conference kickoff Wednesday night, the night before the main event. We’re playing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of success previously with different games, different things we’ve done. It’s always a good time. So for those who have attended, why should people be excited about everything that we’re doing? And for those that haven’t, why should they come? What should we tell everybody about the conference kickoff?

Amanda: Yeah. So, well I think the first thing we should tell everybody is that we’re not actually giving away a million dollars.

Tim: Yes. Point of clarification.

Amanda: Point of clarification. But we are giving away some very fun prizes, so everybody should definitely join us. I mean, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot to say, except that it’s always one of my favorite parts of the conference I generally laugh so hard that I can’t breathe at least one time. Last time, it was the cakes. If you were there for the cakes, you know what I’m talking about.

Tim: Yes.

Amanda: And the chat is just super fun. It’s the feeling of community is palpable is the only way I can describe it. And I would really love everybody to come hang out with us because it’s a great time. And then we’re also going to do, so we’re going to do Millionaire. And then we’re also going to have some breakout sessions for art making. And I’m really excited about that. I’m particularly excited to hear from Khadesia Latimer. So if you were at the last conference, she did a presentation about using Procreate to create radial designs. And we just got a secret iPad at our house and I’m really excited to learn more about how to use it. It’s a secret from my kids is what I mean. We just didn’t tell them that we got one, and we just pull it out.

Tim: I was going to ask for clarification what a secret iPad is.

Amanda: Yeah. Because I think they would be obsessed with it and so we just bring it out after they go to bed. It’s working out really well so far. Although I know my eight year old’s going to throw a fit if he ever finds out about it, so got to be careful.

Tim: Okay. Fair. Yeah. I’ll just follow up on a couple things that you said there. Number one. Yeah, the sense of community is incredible. I love hanging out with other Art teachers and just having an evening before the conference to just spend time together to have fun, to play games. Everybody needs that. It’s such a great relief and we really, really enjoy being able to do that with everyone, so that’s always quite a bit of fun. And then yeah, like you said, we’re going to follow that up with some art making. So we’ll have some drawing and journaling stuff. We’ll have some fibers, some print making, some digital art, so you can take your pick on what you want to create. It’s always tough to find time to make your own art. And so I love that we can give everybody some time and give them an excuse to make some art, so that’s always worthwhile. And then we always go through the presentations we’re most looking forward to. So the question, as always, who has piqued your interest this time around?

Amanda: Okay. I just want to know how many times you’re going to ask me this and how many times I’m going to say all of them.

Tim: Fair.

Amanda: But just kidding. Okay. I do want to talk about some of them. So if you haven’t heard, Ekow Nimako is one of our featured presenters and he is a Lego artist. So he works with Legos or Lego. If you’re a Lego purist, I’m pretty sure you never put the S on the end.

Tim: Oh, okay. So something I-

Amanda: Do you know about this?

Tim: I learned from Ekow. It’s always supposed to be Lego. Don’t pluralize it. But then you’re supposed to follow Lego with another noun, so it should be Lego bricks, Lego pieces, Lego elements. And so, anyway, listen for that when he is talking.

Amanda: Okay, cool.

Tim: That’s the official way to do things is to say Lego and then follow it up with another noun.

Amanda: Okay. So Ekow Nimako uses Lego elements to create amazing, amazing sculptures that speak to his identity. His work is just so incredibly powerful. And Tim, you actually got to go see his studio. Do you want to tell us about that just a tiny bit?

Tim: Yeah. I got to go to Toronto and hang out in his studio and do some interviews, so that was pretty cool. Regular podcast listeners know that he was on last month and got to hear that interview. And then yeah, just seeing his studio was incredible. Just, I mean, he had literally half a million Lego pieces all over there and just they were organized beautifully. So everybody who loves organization would absolutely just be in awe of his studio. But yeah, it was cool to see. He had finished pieces there. He actually has two different studios. One where he builds the more sculptural pieces. And then another studio where he builds those wide-ranging civilizations. And just to see everything that he was creating and listen to him talk about his process was incredible. And like I said, if you listen to that podcast, you know how great it is to hear him talk about himself and his work. And I can’t wait for everybody to see visually everything that he’s doing and talking about all of his work. And so I’m really, really excited for everyone to see that presentation.

Amanda: Yeah, me too. And then I’m also really excited because we’re doing something a little different this year and we’re actually talking with a physical therapist. So Dr. Even Norman is going to talk about how to take care of your physical body this school year, which is so, so important with how stressful everything has been. I actually just went to get a massage and I got scolded by my therapist for only getting one a year, so going to start doing that more and I just-

Tim: I could only afford one a year. Let’s be real.

Amanda: Right? She was like, you need to go monthly. I was like, do you have some money for me? Anyway, so I’m looking forward to her tips because I really think they’re going to be very impactful for teachers this year. And then I’m also really excited to hear from Juana Meneses. She’s back this conference. She’s one of our instructors for graduate courses here. And she’s going to be talking about bringing nature into the classroom in a really innovative and interesting way. And as a mom who we have a bucket of sticks and rocks and dead bugs at all times at our house, so I’m excited to hear more about that. Who are you excited to hear from?

Tim: Oh, I would say for sure, Ulcca Joshi Hansen, our other feature presenter. Every time I talk to her, I’m just like this woman is brilliant.

Amanda: She’s so smart.

Tim: I love hearing everything that she has to say. And I feel like as we’re going into the upcoming school year, just a whole aspirational type of talk about what’s possible and what can be. I’m really looking forward to seeing that from her. And then I think just the variety of things that we’re going to have between different art making tips. We’re going to have Chris Cusack back again to talk more about classroom management, which I think is going to be great. And then we’re going to do some fun stuff too. Kerri Waller is going to be talking about Shrinky Dinks, which I think is super fun. She was on the podcast just a little while back. And just things like that.

It’s going to be a good mix of things that make you feel hopeful, things that get you excited about the school year, and then just concrete ideas that you can bring to your kids. And I mean, that’s the goal that we’re always trying to get to for the conference. And I think this lineup does a good job of accomplishing that. And I guess, speaking of bringing things back to your classroom, last question for you. How can teachers follow up on the conference on the learning from NOW and bring those ideas back to school? What’s going to translate from these three days of the conference into the coming school year?

Amanda: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think it’s something that’s really important to call out specifically and talk about because often when we do PD, we aren’t given any time, literally zero minutes to actually implement that and incorporate that into our practice. And so if you’ve been to the conference the last couple times, we’ve made something new called a conference guide for you. So you can take notes or sketch notes, and really capture all of your learning in one place. If you get a swag box, there is a printed guide in there. If you don’t or if you prefer digital, we also have a digital guide as well that you can download. And near the end, specifically in that guide, there’s a page called 123 Conference Takeaways, so the purpose of that page is to really help you organize all of your thoughts in one place. I want to caution you. It’s literally impossible to implement everything that you’re going to learn.

Tim: Right. Yes.

Amanda: Especially right away. I think that’s the opposite end of the spectrum, which is also problematic is teachers try to do it all and they end up doing nothing really effectively or they get really burned out. So that page really walks you through prioritizing what new ideas you want to try and helps you formulate an actual plan to make it happen. So I would definitely check that out. Sorry. Beyond specific ideas, I really hope this conference just makes you feel excited about going back to the classroom in the fall. After everything that’s happened over the last two years, our main goal is really to remind you how important you are in the school community and in your students’ lives. And to remind you to really just to take care of yourself during this next school year so you can show up for yourself and for your kiddos.

Tim: Yeah, that’s exactly right. At the last conference in the winter, yeah. We talked all about types of rest. And Dr. Dalton Smith, in her Q&A, just talked about how important it is to rest, to do things to take care of yourself so you can be your best self for everyone else who’s depending on you. That’s something that really hit home for me. And so, I would just echo your sentiment there. There’s a lot of learning and a lot of cool things that you can do with what we’re going through at the NOW conference here, what we’re presenting to you. But I think the best thing is just to get teachers excited to get back into the classroom, to do things that are going to make their job exciting, make it fun, make people be glad to be back in the classroom.

Because I think a lot of people are really enjoying their time off this summer, but also really looking back to, looking forward to getting back to a more normal school year where we can be at our best. And so hopefully, the learning from the three days at the NOW Conference can contribute to that for everybody. So that would be my goal, I think. But anyway, we will go ahead and wrap it up there. So Amanda, thank you so much for the shoebill stork update, for the expertise with how we can implement this learning, and yeah, we will look forward to seeing you at the conference next week.

Amanda: Yeah. Can’t wait to see everybody. Thanks, Tim.

Tim: I will be back next week with an in-depth guide to all three days of the NOW Conference. Just telling you everything you need to know going into the conference. But I hope you can join us for the kickoff next Wednesday, the 27th. And I hope you can join us Thursday for an incredible day of professional development involving everything we just talked about and so, so much more. And then next Friday, you will have access to another incredible set of videos and presentations that can help your learning and help your teaching. And I guess we want to get really specific. Friday, the 29th, and 364 days after that, you’ll have the chance to dive into all of those videos, all of the resources, and go back to all of that learning as many times as you need over the next calendar year. Again, you can register through next Wednesday on the AOEU website. And I hope we’ll see you at the NOW Conference next week.

Art Ed Radio was produced by the Art Of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening, and wish me luck as we put the finishing touches on the event for 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.