Winter 2022 NOW Conference Preview (Ep. 301)

The Winter NOW Conference is finally here this weekend! Amanda Heyn joins Tim today to talk about their preparation for the big day, their excitement about the conference, and how teachers can make the most of their professional learning on Saturday and beyond.

Join us at the NOW Conference on February 5th, where we will share a great day of PD about teaching art, creativity, and how we can all find some much-needed rest. 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.

We have been planning and preparing for the Winter NOW Conference for a long while now. And this week is finally conference week. I’m equal parts exhausted from preparing everything, and excited as we wait for everything to actually happen. And as we always say about the NOW Conference, it’s going to be just a spectacular day of professional learning and maybe more importantly, of spending 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. Friday the 4th is the final day to register and you can register at the AOEU website. Everything you need to know is there. You can find all the information you need. And our customer engagement team is spectacular, and they can help you with any questions that you have. And I think also as I look forward to the NOW Conference, I’m hoping that Saturday can be a little bit of an escape for you. I don’t need to tell you it’s been a really, really tough year, year and a half. And I hope that some time on Saturday, spending some time doing some art making, some time connecting with people and just kind of take a break from everything else and think about art, think about teaching, think about the things you love and just spend some time doing the things you love.

So today though, my favorite NOW Conference co-host Amanda Heyn is here to talk to me about the pre-conference that we’re going to put on on Friday, the conference on Saturday and just everything that’s going to happen and how you can kind of maximize the time that you’re spending with other teachers, maximize the learning that can come from this conference and how you can find things to use as we figure out, honestly, just how we’re going to get through the rest of this year. So let me go ahead and bring her on and we’ll have a great conversation here about this week’s NOW Conference. Amanda Heyn, welcome back to the show. How are you?

Amanda: I’m good. I’m fine. But I’m also scared because I just saw something on the internet and I feel like I need to talk about it.

Tim: Okay. So before we podcast, we’re going to do like a quick therapy session?

Amanda: Yeah. Is that okay?

Tim: Because you’re going to bad places on the internet, I’m intrigued.

Amanda: Yeah. I feel like that’s how every conversation starts these days. It’s like, how are you? And everyone’s like, do you really want to know? How well do I know you? Are you really asking? But like we know each other well, so I feel like you’re really asking and I’m really not okay because.

Tim: Because of what you, I’m intrigued, what is this?

Amanda: So I was scrolling on Instagram, as I like to do. And you know how, you don’t know because you’re not on Instagram, but you can go in this place where it’s just like, they show you what they think you want to see. And I don’t know how this happened, because I hate birds so much. But Instagram thought I wanted to see this account called exclusive bird. Exclusive bird. I was like, I don’t want to see this, but I’m intrigued. So the video it originally showed me was a owl, which you know I think are scary. Just everybody look up owl legs, like owls have really muscular legs under their feathers, which I didn’t know. Okay. So I was like-

Tim: Okay, can I just say that owls are objectively cool. Like they are just cool birds.

Amanda: I agree.

Tim: But then you made me look up owl legs and I lost a lot of respect for them. I’m going to be honest.

Amanda: Okay. Thank you. I’m glad we’re on the same page. So then I went to this account that was showing me an owl. I was intrigued by the owl. But then I saw this bird and I was like, there’s no way this bird is real. Like this has to be CGI. It’s called a shoebill.

Tim: A shoebill. Can I look this up right now?

Amanda: Please look it up. I can also send you all the scariest pictures I found. Because I have googled-

Tim: Oh my God.

Amanda: We have been lied to. Our teachers in school told us dinosaurs were extinct as a fact, but that is not true. Like this bird is a dinosaur. I have been gathering evidence for like the last hour I have googled no less than four times, is a shoebill a real bird? Because I feel like, okay, do you also know there’s this conspiracy theory that birds are not real?

Tim: Yes. I’ve seen that.

Amanda: There’s this funny internet conspiracy that birds are not real, which I thought was ridiculous when I heard it, but now I’m not so sure because the shoebill.

Tim: You’ve been looking at the shoebill.

Amanda: Yes. And I’m not kidding. Wikipedia says that its name is B-Rex. It’s not a dinosaur, maybe.

Tim: Let me interrupt you. I feel like I need to describe it for everybody who’s unfortunately still listening to this. The best explanation I can come up with here is like if a stork were actually a serial killer.

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: It does, it looks like a fricking dinosaur. It is incredible. Okay.

Amanda: It as an eight to 10 foot wingspan. It’s also the size of a dinosaur. It’s the size of a human person. I don’t know. It also, another visual is if you saw the Magic School Bus series and you know what a myosaur dinosaur is, it looks like that but a bird. It has like a duck, like a murderous duck bill, is what it has.

Tim: Very good explanation. All right. I’m sorry you’re so bothered by this. Because I am fascinated by it. And as soon as we’re done recording, I have a lot more to look up.

Amanda: I mean, I just feel like now my whole life has been turned upside down. Like what is even real here?

Tim: Dinosaurs are back.

Amanda: Dinosaurs are back.

Tim: In the form of a shoebill.

Amanda: Yes.

Tim: Okay. Okay. All right. And whoever wants to pause the podcast and go look up a shoebill before we actually-

Amanda: It’s spelled literally like shoebill, S-H-O-E-B-I-L-L.

Tim: It’s worth your time. Check it out.

Amanda: It’s worth your time. It’s also known as a whale head, a whale-headed stork or a shoebilled stork. And it’s Latin name is, I shouldn’t have started this, Balaeniceps rex.

Tim: Anything that ends with rex lends a lot of credence to your dinosaur theory.

Amanda: Also if you want to be freaked out even more, you can follow exclusive underscore bird, but I do not recommend it.

Tim: Okay. Fair. Can I redirect our conversation now?

Amanda: I suppose. How are you?

Tim: I’m great. I’m a little worried that we just wasted the first five minutes of the podcast.

Amanda: That’s what I’m here for.

Tim: I feel like it’s par for the course for you and I, whenever we get together and do this. So that’s all right. I am equal parts stressed and excited, as I always am when NOW Conference is coming close. But we have a lot of really cool stuff put together and I think it’s going to be great. So I’m looking forward all of it. And I’m always nervous about everything together, but it always does.

Amanda: It always does.

Tim: So I can’t worry too much about it. So first off, we should continue the therapy session, I suppose. I’m a little bummed out because we had some very exciting plans for doing new things with the conference and COVID kind of put a damper on those things. So case counts are going a little bit crazy. I have family that does not need to catch COVID. And so we, I’m not getting on a plane right now is the short answer to it. So we are headed back to the beautiful metropolis of Osage, Iowa, where AOEU headquarters are located. So Amanda, can I just, can I get your feelings on heading back to Osage for the conference?

Amanda: Yeah, I mean, I really was excited to go somewhere new and bring you all along. I had big Instagram plans and a lot of fun stuff planned. But we’re just pivoting, as we’ve learned to do and had a lot of practice doing these last two years.

Tim: Over the past two years. Yep.

Amanda: I did think we were done with apocalypse burritos, which is when Tim brings six Chipotle burritos to Osage and that’s all we eat. But you know what? Burritos are great and we can do it one more time. I’m excited. We’re still going to have fun in Osage. I’ve decided we’re going to treat it like a big city and we’re going to take you, hopefully, if travel plans go according to plan, because we’re also both driving through the Midwest in the middle of winter. But if we go there and if we make it, I want to take you around to some of the hidden gems we’ve found after hosting six or seven conferences there, or well, you’ve hosted many, many more. But I think it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be fine. And we still have all of our amazing presenters, so that’s really exciting to me.

Tim: Good. Good. Do I have to come on along on the Instagram adventures?

Amanda: Yes. A hundred percent.

Tim: Okay. All right. I feel like twice a year, along with conference, I have to make appearances on Instagram and that’s fine. It’ll be enjoyable. And yeah, like you said, we’ll make the best of it. We can have some cool things happening in Osage. So it’ll be fun to let everybody kind of see what AOEU headquarters is like, what the town around it is like. So that should be fun. Let’s talk actual content, actual presenters though. I guess big question here is what are we trying to accomplish with this conference? What do we want people to take away from it?

Amanda: Yeah. So I mean, as with every conference, it’s called the NOW Conference for a reason. We want to bring you the best in what’s happening in art ed right now. But my personal favorite aspect of the conference is just the sense of community that’s created between all of the attendees. And I feel like this, I mean, I feel like we keep saying like this year it’s more important than ever. But I just keep getting ratcheted up. And I feel like this year is the most important year. Teaching is harder than it’s ever been.

Tim: I know. Yeah. I think just hearing from everybody, like we thought last year was going to be the toughest teaching year of our career. And somehow this is infinitely worse this year and I don’t know how that happened, but it is. And just both of the past years have been incredibly difficult. And so I would just say, we’re trying to be conscious of that with everything that we put together, but we’re still aware that not everybody’s in the best shape to bring in all of these brand new teaching ideas. So a lot of it is about just perseverance and just trying to get through what we’re doing. And we’re trying to, I guess, acknowledge what teachers are going through right now, help with the things that are causing the biggest struggles, but still give those new ideas, those supports that can help people right now. Help people try and both improve their teaching when they can, where they can, and still trying to keep things interesting, I guess.

Amanda: Right. I read, this is like a bummer, but I read this article recently that was like, Omicron means parents are doing it all again, except this time dead inside. I was like, oh wow.

Tim: That hurts, but it’s true.

Amanda: Yes. But I also think, I mean, teachers are in that same boat. We keep thinking this will be the last time we have to do this until it’s the next time we have to do it. So I think another goal personally of mine is just to make it a super enjoyable day for teachers. Whether or not you are ready to implement new teaching strategies right away. I just want you to come and have fun and really enjoy the community and enjoy all of the presenters and laugh and win prizes. And I just want it to be sort of like a break when you are, it’s still relating to teaching, but it’s going to be a lot more enjoyable than I think the classroom experience has been lately.

Tim: Yeah, for sure. And you know, I would say too, just thinking about advice for people who are coming for the first time, or maybe haven’t been for a while, like you said, just enjoy it. You know, we do a ton of really fun things. We have the pre-conference planned again, which is going to be great. Evening before, for those of you that are unfamiliar. We play a lot of games. We dress up in ridiculous costume. We do trivia, we have a lot of fun. It’s always really enjoyable. So we would love to see people there.

And then as we talked about, just both at the pre-conference and the conference itself, embrace the community that’s there. We have what, 15 presenters? But we have 1500 are teachers that are there the day of the conference, all watching together. So like you said, whether you’re in a position to grab new ideas and implement new things, that’s awesome. Or if you just want to commiserate about how teaching is going, you have people who know exactly what you’re going through. It’s what art teachers are doing right now. And just come be a part of it. So let me ask you, I’m just ranting about things. But like, what is your advice for people who haven’t been to NOW before?

Amanda: Yes. Well, I would say yes, definitely come to the pre-conference. So that’s the night before the conference. I’m very excited about our plans for this year. I just got some costume choices in the mail. So I’m deciding on those, which is exciting. And then I would say just like, get yourself set up for the conference. Once it starts, it goes really fast. So if you got a swag box, get out your conference guide. If you didn’t, you should download that ahead of time.

It’s also available digitally. That’ll help sort of just guide you through the day, give you a landing place for your thoughts. And then also consider your physical setup. So like, are you watching from home? Do you have something to drink? I always need snacks nearby. Do you need headphones? Are you in a loud situation where you might need those to concentrate? And then I would just say the final thing I would say is, don’t worry if you miss something because everything is available for a whole year after the day. So you can always go back. You can always catch things later if you need to.

Tim: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s all really good advice. For those of us who have been to lots of conferences, for those people who have their snack plan and their visual journals ready to go, what do advice would you give them? People who have been to NOW a lot before, how can they make the most of it?

Amanda: Yes. So I would think about actually taking a planned break. So we have people, they always want to be there for the whole thing.

Tim: Yeah, for five straight hours.

Amanda: They don’t go to the bathroom and they don’t go eat and they ignore their basic human needs, which is very flattering honestly. But I promise it’s okay if you step away. So I might say, look at the schedule and choose a presentation that either maybe you are willing to miss live or a presentation that you really want to dig into, one that you think you might need to pause a bunch of times anyway. In either of those scenarios, and just save it for another time and just take a planned 10 to 15 minute break. Go outside, breathe the fresh air. That would make Tim and I, who do have to sit the whole time, really happy if we knew people were doing that. And also, yeah, if you haven’t come to the pre-conference before, that would be something fun to add this time. What about you?

Tim: Absolutely. No, I would just echo that. You’re not at school. This is not a teaching day. You can go to the bathroom when you want. Take breaks. We have a couple small breaks built in just because everybody needs to breathe a little bit. But yeah, don’t be afraid to step away for a little while. The live presentations, the live interviews that we do, those are recorded. You can go back to them later. Everything is in the afterpass. So don’t feel bad about missing part of it. Because, I mean, even the chat is recorded and put up on the website later.

Amanda: You can go back to that.

Tim: Read through that later. So everything will be there. So yeah, please step away, take care of yourself. We’ll still be there when you get back and you’re not going to miss anything. So yeah, I would just echo a lot of your sentiments. And then every time we preview, Amanda, we talk about some of our favorite presentations. Maybe not even favorite, just what we’re most looking forward to. You want to go first or you want me to go first?

Amanda: I want you to go first. I’m curious about who you’re excited to see.

Tim: Okay. So first of all, Alanna Wilcox, she was on the podcast a couple weeks ago. She is fascinating, does all of this great stuff with fibers. If you missed that interview, as she said, she’s got a black belt in spinning. Some sort of, she’s just very, very good at spinning, has put a ton of work into spinning and dyeing yarn. And she has some sort of high level certification. I had never heard of it before, she talked about it as the black belt for fiber artists.

Amanda: Okay. I thought you were talking about CycleBar and I thought interesting, but how does that relate to content? This has made much more sense. Okay.

Tim: Yes. No, we’re not talking spinning in the sense of Peloton, sense of yarn. So anyway, as I’ve talked about a lot, fiber is a weak spot for me, something I don’t know a ton about. So, fascinated with all the cool things that Alanna has done and really looking forward to her presentation. She also has a second presentation in the afterpass where she dives in talking about diving deep on something like half an hour on like, here’s how you set up this lesson. Here’s the materials you need. Here’s how you present to your students.

Here’s step by step. And so just really diving in on how to teach a portrait lesson through fibers. So anyway, she’s got a lot of good stuff coming. Juana Meneses is going to do a really cool thing on creating zines and drawing and creating a sense of place with your artwork. Which I’ve been fascinated by her and her work ever since she was on the podcast last year. And so I’m really looking forward to seeing what she has to say. And then Kyle Robertson is doing something on fashion shows, which I don’t think we’ve ever covered at NOW before. So really looking forward to seeing what he has put together with fashion, which I think there’s a lot of interest in. Like I said, we haven’t dove in there a lot. So looking forward to that. So what about you?

Amanda: Well, every time you ask me always say all of them and that remains true. You always make me pick some. So we do have some to talk about. So one is Khadija Latimer. She’s doing something about Procreate, which is something that I personally would love to learn more about. I don’t have an iPad. I might be the last person on the face of the earth, I don’t know. But every time I see somebody digital drawing, I want one. Plus she’s just, she is so fun to follow on social media.

If you can follow her, oh my gosh, she’s a joy. So I’m super excited to see what she has for us. And then Christine Cusack is talking about de-escalating behavior, which I feel like is very relevant. And we’re actually working with her to create some pro content right now. And Lindsay Moss, who is working with her, said she’s already, just from reading her outline for the pro pack, Lindsay gleaned some tips and was able to de-escalate a student who usually is out of her room or out of commission sort of for like three hours, in five minutes.

Tim: Wow.

Amanda: And she was like, they were things, Lindsay is a national board certified teacher who has been teaching for 15 plus years and is one of the best educators I know. And she was like, just these small tweaks made this huge impact. And that was one thing she read, out of Chris’s outline. So I’m very excited for teachers to hear from her and hear what she has to say about student behavior. And because we know from the teachers that we know and love who are in the classroom, this is something that everybody is dealing with, understandably, right now. And then finally our keynote, Dr. Dalton-Smith, she’s going to talk about rest and different types of rest. And when I first heard this concept, it was radical to me.

And it has honestly changed my life since I saw her speak about it somewhere else. And so I’m, again, if there’s one thing teachers need right now, it’s rest. But they can’t always maybe access the types of rest or they may not even know what parts of them are tired. So she talks about, it’s not just physical rest. It’s not just getting enough sleep. Although sure, that’s important. It’s like, do you need creative rest? Do you need mental rest? And anyway, I’m just, I couldn’t be more excited for teachers to hear her message because I think it’s really, really going to resonate with everybody this time.

Tim: Absolutely. Well, you and I saw her together and she answered the question that I didn’t know I was asking, I guess. Just like, I’m getting plenty of sleep, but I still wake up tired and why is that? And she explained that to me. And like you said, having those answers has really been a game-changer for me. She’s not going to solve all the problems in your life, but she is going to give you some tips that that can make things a lot better. Like you said, I think it’s a message that teachers need to hear right now. So it’s something to look forward to for everybody. But on that note, yeah, a lot of great stuff for everybody. And we’re hoping that we will see you at NOW on Saturday. So Amanda, any closing thoughts or do you just want to tell everybody to come to the conference?

Amanda: Yeah, I think I just want to tell everybody to come to the conference. We’re so excited to see you, to interact and chat with you. So hope to see you there.

Tim: All right. Thanks, Amanda. And I will see you again on Saturday.

Amanda: Sounds good. Bye.

Tim: I hope you can join us for the pre-conference on Friday for an evening of fun. And I hope you can join us Saturday for an incredible day of PD involving everything we just talked about, but so, so much more. Again, you can register through Friday on the AOEU website and I hope we see you Saturday at the NOW Conference.

Art Ed Radio is produced by the Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening. Hopefully we’ll see you this weekend and we will talk to you next week. And in the meantime, if you have a free minute, I will put a link in these show notes so you can explore the shoebill stork and see that just freak show of a bird that we were talking about.

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.