Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of topics and share advice for art-on-a-cart teachers and those with art rooms.
PREPARING FOR SEATTLE’S NAEA CONVENTION
by Heidi O’Hanley
Get ready, because this year’s NAEA convention is taking place in Seattle, Washington, March 22–24th! I remember visiting Seattle for the convention back in 2011. With living in the Midwest, the two-hour time difference had me up and ready at 5 am!
I enjoyed walking around the city in the early morning, viewing the outdoor sculptures, and watching the set up at Pike Place Market. There are so many hidden gems in Seattle to visit outside of the convention and so much to do while at the center! I’d like to offer some tips in preparing for the national convention and visiting the city of Seattle.
1. Be prepared for the weather! Seattle has been known for its rainy weather patterns, so keep a close eye on the forecast! Prepare to dress warm and bring a travel umbrella in case of rainfalls in March, but hope for the light cardigan weather. The average weather last March in Seattle was in the 50s, so hope for decent weather this year! The waterfront (which is walking distance from the hotel and convention center) is also the best place for morning strolls.
2. Don’t forget your walking shoes! Even if you’re not a morning runner, there’s a lot to do within the city. Straight down Pike Street is the Pike Place Market on the waterfront, then a short walk to the left will lead you to the Seattle Art Museum and SAM Gallery. There’s also a beautiful sculpture garden along the waterfront leading up to more galleries, coffee shops and shopping! You can also make the hike to the Space Needle observation deck and Seattle Center, and if you get tired, you can take the monorail back toward the convention center.
3. USE the NAEA Seattle convention app! Since NAEA created their convention app a few years back, it became a valuable resource for planning sessions to attend (broken down by topics, presenters, and divisions), hands-on workshops to enjoy, connecting with friends, and learning more about super session and guest speakers. The app is available for free for your phones and tablets. You can also use the app to write and store notes while attending presentations, plus handouts can be uploaded for specific sessions.
4. Make room in your luggage for the vendors’ LARGESSE! It’s highly recommended not to over pack before you head to the conference. Save some room for those samples and goodies you want to take back to your classroom, generously given by vendors in attendance! The vendors consist of companies that supply your art materials, magazine subscriptions, art fundraisers, books and posters, and much more! You can also order supplies while at the convention to be shipped to your school.
5. Print labels with your address for raffles, giveaways AND MORE! I describe the vendor area as an art teacher’s toy store: multiple vendor giveaways, mailing list sign-ups, and prizes. Labels make it much easier for you to place a sticker and go instead of spending time hand writing your entire address and phone number from booth to booth.
6. Plan some time to visit Seattle! There’s plenty to do off site from the convention. You will be close to plenty of attractions, such as the Seattle Art Museum, SAM Gallery, Seattle Center, Museum of Pop Culture, and other various galleries filled with contemporary artworks in various media.
The Olympic Sculpture Park is an offshoot of the Seattle Art Museum that features various sculptures spread over a spacious park. There’s also Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, Gum Wall (near Pike Place Market), The Seattle Aquarium, and if you travel further west, the Seattle Japanese Garden, featuring a cherry orchard, water features, and a teahouse.
7. Make a stop at the information booth! The volunteer committee will be available to help direct you to where you need to go! From local restaurants, workshop locations, to cultural attractions and more, members are around to help you with any assistance you need.
8. Attend the social media “meet-ups.” If you’re on Twitter (#artsed #pln), Facebook (Art Teachers Group and sub groups), or any other social-media outlet, there will be plenty of meet-ups and events around the convention. Keep an eye out on your preferred social media network for extra gatherings to meet people face to face!
9. Follow the #NAEA18 Tagboard. NAEA’s tagboard is the quickest way to gather all the #NAEA18 tags from different sites. Just go to tagboard.com/naea18 to view all the posts and follow what’s happening!
If this is your first convention, I hope you have a wonderful experience! There’s so much to do and see on and off site, you will leave with a head full of ideas and inspiration for your classroom, curriculum, and art department. The convention is one of the best professional development opportunities available for art teachers! Have fun and be inspired!
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Heidi O’Hanley (NBCT), teaches art at Brodnicki Elementary School in Justice, Illinois. Visit her blog at www.talesfromthetravellingartteacher.blogspot.com.