Sunday, March 20, 2016

#NAEA16 Reflection

The trip is done.  #NAEA16 has come to a close, and I'm home... reflecting on the overwhelming amount of information and personalities I encountered on this adventure.  This was my first National Conference to present at and I adored the opportunity.  It was amazing to be part of such a large event and I was so humbled by so many of our Art Teaching friends who shared their stories and joined in on the conversation.

Fun Fact... Comic-Con was in the same convention center as the Art Education Convention.  Now, you put an Art Teacher Convention in the same facility as most anything else... (Boat show, Technology Convention, Home Gardening Event...) really anything... The Art Teachers have a way of standing out.  You put an Art Teacher Convention in the same building as Comic-Con... We are simply wallflowers, watching the amazing happenings around us.  We (art teachers) would be late for sessions just because we saw another costume and had to stop to take a picture.  That, my friends, was some great planning... or, at least some good luck (it was St. Patricks Day you know)

Chicago has so much amazing public art.  Everywhere you turn there is something on the wall, or a sculpture to be viewed.  The architecture was fun to experience, a mix of traditional and modern. We made time to visit The Art Institute of Chicago.  There was a Van Gogh exhibit featured and my traveling pal, Leah Schultz (Co-worker and Amazing Art Teacher of Twin Lakes Elementary) really was excited to visit.  I might have been a little freaked out by the crowds and fond a safe space to draw a picture to remember the day, rather than examine such masterworks, with 4000 other admirers in the same room... but I think we both enjoyed the experience, just in different ways.

As I do most often, I found myself drawn to the Modern Art.  These works were show stoppers for me. 

Of course, I got a picture or two of the Bean... but the images were nothing like what Cathy Hunt took and shared on Twitter. I LOVED talking to her about her take on this amazing sculpture.  She share that this work is completely interactive, that it changes, and engages.  She loved this work, it's obvious... if you are interested in other amazing shots from this Art Teachers, eye... check out her images on Twitter.
It was so nice to have friends like Theresa McGee, Ginger Pacer, Laura Lohman, and Amy Manata who knew the city, set up social events and made our visit a lot of fun.  We also had help connecting via Laura and Matt Grundler and Susan Riley. Our meet ups were fun... and a blast to see everyone you chat with online, and connect with sometimes more than your coworkers at your own school.

image obtained via Lauren Wenk
#K12ArtChat Peeps
One of my favorite pictures with some of my Minnesota Friends, Tricia Fuglestad, Andrew McCormick and Grundler x 2

The vendor hall was amazing as always. Lot's of hands on activities such as this sweet little, felted acorn by Ester S Place to the amazing student artwork from YMM ART SPACE. Great conversations with Gelli Print people, and Art to Remember.  And as always, the AOE team.  This awesome picture was posted by Heidi O'Hanley who has a very nice post about this AOE blogger meet up on her blog, Tales From the Traveling Art Teacher.  I'm sad to have not been a part of this picture, but I was presenting at the same time.  These people are amazing and I love to think of them as my online tribe. 

My #NAEA16 presentation was about the Connect Effect. I have an online digital resource if you would like to see it (click here).  Every page has a link to a blog post of a video to support the simple text or idea on the slide. This was the biggest room I have ever presented in (you only see half of it here). There were many participants that peppered the room during the presentation and I was so excited to have some of them be friends and other people who have participated in the ATC swap I did last fall.  The group had good questions and we are going to do an ATC swap for teachers.  If you would like to join us, please check out the slide show.  Cards are due by April 16th (see slide show for more information)

Other sessions I went to were amazing. There were a couple that I went to that I feel I can walk out tomorrow and implement some of the ideas right away.  Others, I have already done because I have seen it on their blog.  This was amazing because I got to hear the little details about the project that I was still wondering about.  I got to ask those questions I was curious about. I got to connect with amazing educators. This is what conferences are all about.

Image of Cassie Stephens and Janine Campbell presenting
We all fell in love with Jeanne Bjork and had to get a picture with her after her presentation. 
Had to stop to watch the 3D printing scan in action by Rich Stachon This was kind of a cool moment to see Don Masse being scanned.  I have so much respect for both of these art educators. 

Whether it was going to a bar and sitting down to have a chat with Art Teachers who wore green mustaches, or eating a slice of cake at 11pm at night on our way home... this trip was full of fun interactions with Art teachers from around the world. 

Are you seeing a theme here of laughter... it's because it was everywhere.  We even got to go to the world famous, Second City Comedy Club. It was so fun to sit by Cathy Hunt and laugh about political American jokes... I tried to explain what they were all about sometimes... but I have to admit... I wasn't sure myself sometimes:) None the less, we laughed! 

Even when returning to my room there was never a break of laughter.  We had to get a group shot of my roomies before leaving today.  It was fun to have Nashville and Minnesota accents in the same room.  I learned a lot about the south, bless your heart :) 

And any good traveler would have to mention great places to eat. I have a cousin in Chicago who brought us out to The Little Goat... holy cute!  I mean really... we had great food and soulful conversation. Be sure to get a Bloody Mary there as well, they were delish! 

We also, kind of my accident, found a restaurant called Eggy's.  Also great food, wonderful service thanks to Aaron our waiter and again, great connections and laughs all around.  It's not too far from the Millennium Park so if you're doing an art day, go early and check Eggy's out!  The last good find we found was from a food truck called A. Sweet Girl, My travel buddy Leah and I had to take a moment to enjoy these.  They might be my new favorite thing.


  1. Aww love to you too!!! Great post here. I'm hoping to do a similar post soon. Chicago was amazing. I've been there so many times but this was an especially magical visit. Thanks for the love.

    1. Pleasure. Please let me know when you post.

  2. Yup! I'll be posting tomorrow! Still editing 400+ photos....

  3. LOVED having quality time to visit with you!

    1. Agree! It was nice to meet up with you again.