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What Do You Want From Your Art Teacher Community? (Ep. 346)

Tim talks today about the various art teacher communities that we take part in, and what each of these different communities can offer us. Listen as he discusses finding connections both in-person and online, how those connections can help our teaching, and what an ideal art teaching community might look like. Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Transcript

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.

Now first, before we start the episode, I actually want to put a call out for help with a future episode. I want to do a show that’s centered around joy in teaching. So I’m just putting the question out there. What brings you joy in your teaching? What are the things that make you love your job? Or if you don’t love your job, what are the things that keep you coming back? I would love to hear from you, what are those big things or little things or in between things that help you find joy in teaching? If you’re willing to share, I would love to hear from you. You can email me, timothybogatz@theartofeducation.edu. Also, we’ll have a link to a Google form where you can share some thoughts and some ideas as well. So yeah, I want you to tell me what brings you joy in teaching.

But as for today’s episode, I want to do just something quick just to get some thoughts out there about something that I’ve been mulling over, something that I’ve been thinking about, curious about. Just a question that’s been in my head for a while, and the question is, what do we want from our art teacher community? The NOW Conference is coming up in just a couple of months here at the end of January, and in all of the preparation and planning we’re doing for that, it’s really gotten me thinking about the community that we develop because I absolutely love the art teacher community we have at the Now Conference. We get together a couple times each year. We have the kickoff the night before the conference, which is just so much fun. We’re playing games, we’re giving out prizes, we’re doing ridiculous stunts, Amanda and me, and hopefully it’s entertaining for people, but I hope that it’s a good opportunity for people to connect with other art teachers, just have some fun and enjoy what we’re doing.

And then the actual conference itself, it’s an entire day of learning and sharing and connecting with other people, improving art teaching, doing so much to help each other out and do some really, really interesting things when we are together during that NOW Conference. But that is just one example of an art teacher community. There are so many more, and we’ll talk about those today. But what I’ve been thinking about, what I want to know, what I would appreciate your feedback on is what do you want from your art teacher community? I think that’s going to be different for everyone and probably not something you can answer right away.

But for me, when I think about one of my favorite art teacher communities, aside from the NOW Conference, I love the art teacher community on Twitter. And I know it’s not a huge community, but it’s one that’s been meaningful for me. And I’m not a big social media user. I’ve talked about that a lot on podcast, and I haven’t posted anything on Twitter for a couple of months. And there are obviously plenty of reasons to stay off social media, but at the same time, when I go a couple of months without interacting a lot or without posting, it feel like you’re missing some things when you don’t participate. Because over the years, I’ve had so many great discussions on Twitter with so many different teachers from around the country, even around the world.

Shout out to Matt and Laura Grundler for doing their K-12 art chat every week. Whether you’re participating in it or reading it, it’s just some really good in depth discussion, or at least as much in depth discussion as you can have in 280 characters at a time. But having those questions and those prompts is super helpful. And you have some good discussions about what’s happening in people’s classrooms, what’s happening with their teaching, and not even just that, but just all over Twitter, you can see so much about what everyone is doing. And like I said, it lends itself to some great discussions. And just thinking about those discussions, that’s huge for me and what I get from the art teaching community there. I’m able to meet new teachers, I’m able to see new ideas, whether those ideas are for art club or for getting your art out into the community that surrounds your school, or for doing art shows or lessons or instructional strategies or anything else.

There’s so much happening there. And that’s what it has been for me. Just the ability to connect, the ability to learn from other people, talk to other people and just see what they’re doing in their classroom. I feel like I can learn so much from them. And it’s something that really appeals to me. And another place that I haven’t been in years, but I know is huge for the art teacher community is Facebook. There’s so many conversations going on there. And I think the idea of community on Facebook is a little bit different. And on Twitter, it’s a pretty small discussion, usually between just a handful of people. On Facebook, it’s quite often pretty huge. Some of those art teacher groups have thousands or tens of thousands of members. It’s not the same intimate discussion, but a lot of times it’s better to have more people and there’s more experience, there’s more advice.

I mean, let’s be honest, it can also go off the rails pretty quickly too, but there’s a lot more to draw from. And I know that appeals to a lot of people and you can get a lot more out of it whether you are participating or whether you’re just reading, there’s a lot there. You can always get your questions answered. You have a larger cross-section of people, more advice from more places and more experience levels. And I think it can give you a good idea about what’s happening with the art teacher community all across the country, just scrolling through and seeing what happens there. So again, that’s another spot that I’d love feedback about. If you’re on Facebook, if you get a lot of advice from Facebook or participate in a lot of discussions there, I would love to hear why that appeals to you, why that works for you, what you’ve gained from it.

And I would love to hear your opinion there. And then obviously, Instagram is huge amongst art teachers. I have not gotten into that. I’m not on there enough. I feel like I have a vague idea of what’s going on, but I know so many teachers are using it. And I would really appreciate people’s views on this one too. If you’re finding your art teacher community on Instagram, what does it do for you? Why do you like that platform? The impression that I get, again, from not being on there enough, but the impression I get is that the Instagram art teacher community is maybe less focused on those conversations that I mentioned, less focused on asking and answering questions, and maybe more focused on sharing and entertaining. And this is not me passing judgment on one or the other, so please don’t think that. I am really curious to know if you are on Instagram and you’re finding your art teacher community there, is that because it’s the best place for you to learn?

Is it because you just love seeing what other people are doing? Is it because you love the visual format instead of a lot of reading and in-depth discussion? I would love to know what you’re getting from Instagram, why you love Instagram. Because as I said, I’m not on there enough. I would love to know how and why people are using that a little bit more. Thinking about, I guess, beyond the world of what’s going on online, what’s happening in social media, I feel like there are so many connections that can be made in person as well.

There are a ton of in-person events for art teachers, obviously, NAEA and the national conference, that’s not something a lot of art teachers are able to go to year after year. I’ve been lucky enough to do it through AOEU and it’s really cool to have a community there that you can connect with every year and just catch up, see what’s happening, go to all of these sessions, do all of this learning, and see these same people over and over again and just see what they’re improving on, what they’re doing, what is helping them in their classroom.

It’s another great place to learn. But even if you aren’t, or if you can’t be going to the national conference, there’s probably a state conference that works for you. And if you are going to your state art educators conference, if you’re part of your state art educators group or your association, I would definitely encourage you to do that because again, that’s a great place to connect, a great place to find community, a great place for people to learn, continue to learn and develop ideas, explore what other people are doing and just improve as a teacher. And again, even if you don’t go to the conferences, you can still find other ways to connect with other art teachers, whether that’s district-wide, whether that’s just at your school, just leaning on teachers who have been there and done that, trying to find common ground on what you’re doing and seeing what you can learn from them.

And maybe if you’ve been around for a while, maybe it’s worth connecting with some younger teachers in your district or younger teachers in your school and to seeing what they’re doing that is maybe new, maybe exciting, maybe that you haven’t thought about or you haven’t done before. Fresh ideas can always be incredibly helpful. And so if you’re able to find that community, share those ideas and do some of those things that help each other out, and like I said, can give you new ideas and improve what you’re doing, that’s always going to be worthwhile. And I think that gets at the idea of what brings that community together, what puts us all together and what is common for everybody with the idea of what we get from our community, whether it is in person, whether it is at a conference, whether it is online, either twice a year or whether it’s online every single day.

Everybody finds their community at different levels. But I think what ties it all together, what puts it all together is just the idea that a lot of people want to learn together. They want to collaborate, they want to share advice, share notes on teaching. It comes down to the fact that we want to excel at our jobs. And I think finding the community and finding what you want from the community can really help you do just that can help you excel at what you’re doing in your classroom every day. But I also know that not everybody is hardwired to always want to excel. I know not everybody is always wanting to improve. There are going to be a lot of people who aren’t as interested in learning. Maybe they’ve been at it for 25 years and they know what works for them. They know when and where to get their ideas, and they’re not as interested in learning anymore.

Instead, they maybe want someone on their side to commiserate and to share stories and to have a support system and just compare notes on what has worked, what is working for them, and all of that is valid too. All of those ideas are incredibly worthwhile. And so, like I said at the beginning, the idea of community is going to be a little bit different for everyone. But I would love to know what people are looking for with their community because I think it can take on so many forms, and I’m sure there’s so many that I’m not thinking of. And on this podcast, I always ask people to reflect on their teaching in a lot of different ways. So today I would love for you to just reflect on your own art teacher community that you have found. Where do you find community?

Is it in person? Is it online? Do you mostly talk to your colleagues or mostly talk to art teacher friends online? Where do you make those connections? Okay, that’s question number one. Secondly, what do you get from those questions? Is your community a place where you go to learn, go to discuss, go to observe, go to vent, as in maybe all of the above? And third question, probably the big one, what I’m spending the most time thinking about, what I’m most curious about, what would make your art teacher community even better? And what are the things that would make you want to be more involved or more connected? What would your ideal art teacher community look like?

And again, I don’t have the answers. This is going to be different for everybody. It’s just something that I have been thinking about recently. And if you have some ideas or have thought about this before, I would love to hear from you. Or if you think about it now and want to share with me any of your thoughts, any of your ideas, like I said, I would love to hear it. So my email is timothybogatz@theartofeducation.edu.

I would love more feedback from you about what your art teacher community is and what you would want it to be. And for now, just as like I said, I wrap up this quick episode, I would love for you to take a moment to appreciate what your art teacher community is right now. Currently, what is your art teacher community? Think about who helps you and think about how they help you. And if you want to reach out and tell them that you appreciate them or tell them how they have helped you or are helping you, they would love to hear it. And you are not ever going to regret investing in your relationships or investing in your community.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. One last reminder before we go today, we are hopefully putting together an episode soon about what brings you joy when it comes to your art teaching. What do we want to celebrate about our jobs? What do we love? What makes what we do worth doing? All comes down to the big question of where do you find joy in art teaching?

So if you just want to send me a bunch of emails this week about your art teacher community, about where you find joy in your art teaching, I would love to have you share your ideas. So again, please feel free to write me an email, timothybogatz@theartofeducation.edu. Or if you check today’s show notes with the podcast, we’ll have a Google form link there where you can find and share some ideas about what brings you joy. All right, thank you for humoring me with some quick thoughts. And if you do have any feedback for me about art teacher community, I would love to hear it. Thank you and we’ll talk to you again 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.

2 months ago
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