Sometimes, believe it or not, as an art teacher, you can feel like a bit of a weird-o. You are usually the only art teacher at your school. You have the largest amount of supplies at schools but often times the least amount of space. Some adults even think that all you do is facilitate play time and they wonder if the kids really are participating in rigorous learning.
At the National Art Education Conference you are not a weird-o. You are in a place that validates strongly held beliefs that art is essential for growth and learning, that it is an anchor and a necessity for so many kids, that art makes learning alive and makes mistakes interesting.
One sentiment that was repeated by several of the artists who's talks I attended was, art helped them figure out who they are, and remember who they are through difficult times. Their art, especially as teenagers and young people gave them something that was all their own and grounded them. And like art does, it helps you find your friends and kindred souls.
Hearing these artists talk and being with thousands of people who I had never met, yet instantly had tons to talk about with, gave me pause to reflect on the work I am doing in schools - obviously not all children will go into the visual arts but there are going to be those kids who are feeling, "finally a language I can express myself in!" or "Yay, this, I understand!"
The conference validated that the work of a teaching artist is vital to the emotional/social growth and success of all students.
Thank you so much to VSA Massachusetts for recognizing and supporting this vital work.
Oh yeah, and one of my lessons was published and featured at Sakura's booth.