NAEA in New Orleans

We just got back from six days in New Orleans for the National Art Education Association's annual convention. Over 5000 art educators from around the world ascended on the Big Easy, and it was a truly amazing time.

We arrived on Tuesday, a couple of days before the official start of the convention, and enjoyed walking around and taking in the some of the sights. Of course, we stopped in at Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter for coffee and beignets. Well, Dave had the beignets since they're not vegan.

We kicked things off on Wednesday with two Pre-Convention Workshops on the Visual Journal, and we had about 30 participants in each session. We shared a variety of ideas for working in the journal, and there was just a positive buzz in the air.

The official start of the Convention was Wednesday, and it was awesome running into so many friends, like Melissa Ledo above, and colleagues. Dave said that it was like being at a family reunion except you like everyone. We also rocked two presentations that day. The first focused on my journey to teaching a choice based curriculum, and the room was packed (see the photo below). There was such a crazy amount of positive energy flowing in that space, and I was completely floored by the sheer number of people who came in. People were standing in the back and sitting on the floor. Unfortunately, I ran completely out of the CDs that I made with lots of information and resources about Choice Based, but I will be making them available for anyone who missed out. Stay tuned.

photo by Michelle Harrell
Later in the day on Wednesday we had a panel discussion on the visual journal and how it can be used in the classroom at any level - elementary through university. Our friends Sam Peck and Michael Bell joined us for the talk as we all shared what we did and how we engaged our students.

Dave and I did another packed presentation on Friday on the visual journals, and we think that we got a lot of educators excited about the journal for themselves and for their students. Again, we ran out of CDs for the session, so we will be making them available for purchase on our website and blog.

On Saturday, we got to meet and talk to a lot of wonderful people as we signed books at Chester Book Co. in the exhibitors hall. We are very grateful to Alan and Heather for giving us the opportunity to promote our books.

Dave and Sam also got to share about their collaborative journal project tet[R]ad on Saturday, and they had a bunch of excited people flocking to hall in order to be a part of the project. And finally, Dave presented with a colleague from Australia, Lexi Cutcher, about their international collaboration they organized for themselves and their university students.

It was a crazy busy convention, but well worth it. The energy of the location, the people, the conversations was all extremely positive and motivating. It is a true indicator that we are moving in the right direction. Thank you to everyone who came out to one of our workshops or presentations, who stopped by Chester Book Co. to buy a book, and who stopped and chatted. We are grateful for the support.

Though the convention was fantastic and it was wonderful being surrounded by so many dedicated art educators, it was good to get back home to my wonderful wife and my snuggly animals. I am always appreciative of my wife's support that allows me the opportunity to travel and share, and I am always in awe of the comfort and love my animals bring. It's always nice to travel, but it's always nicer to get back home.