Sunday, September 13, 2015

My 1st Conference

The 2007 Student NAEA group from Emporia State University and our fearless leader Dr.Grove. I'm in front of the "L" in the white shirt.
I want to tell you a little story about my first KAEA conference. Ok, I suppose it was technically my second conference as I had helped with the conference the previous year when I was a sophomore at ESU, but this was the first FULL conference experience complete with packing, carpooling, learning, and meeting new people in a new place. It was 2007 and the KAEA conference was being held in Great Bend that year, with the theme of Wild About Art.
The art education students at ESU were all encouraged to apply for a conference grant which would cover our conference registration fees. We had all become members of KAEA/NAEA and were already enjoying those benefits like a subscription to Art Education. (You can join here: Since KAEA took care of our registration fees, we carpooled and shared hotel rooms, attending the conference was quite affordable.

 The 7 of us packed and piled into a couple vehicles to head to the conference. On Thursday night we had a chance to just hang out and meet art teachers who were showing up the night before the conference started. We had fun playing Pictionary by the pool.

The next morning, the conference officially kicked off! We enjoyed our meals, our workshops, and especially networking. I don't know how many times we heard exclamations of "You should come student teach with me!" and "There's going to be a job opening in my district!" The workshops are great every year, but I think I look forward to the time between the workshops and meetings just as much. My favorite workshop that year was about Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I hauled my camera with me but with the abundance of smart phones now, taking pictures of cool ideas you see is easier than ever.

In exchange for receiving a student conference grant, you are asked to donate something for the silent auction. I donated a mixed media collage made from papers and metal. My friend, Josh, pitched in and helped show the artwork. (It was a live auction that year).
Some workshops are project or technique based while others are based on other parts of teaching art. No matter what you are interested in teaching some day, you'll be able to find something new to learn.
I even helped present a workshop that another student had planned- a lesson plan swap.

Another conference highlight is the awards ceremony that honors teachers as "outstanding" in their field. I teared up listening to the nominators describe their friends and colleagues and thought "I want to be that good someday!" It was inspiring, to say the least.
I think traveling to the conference together made our relationships stronger, too. I'm still in touch with most of the students I attended with and know we can call on each other if we need help, even though we're all working across the state and one of us is now teaching in a different country! 

I really do feel like attending that conference set me on a path for my teacher. I had known I was going to be an art teacher since I was in high school, but attending the conference showed me how it could be better as a connected teacher. I've only missed one conference since that "first" one and I look forward to them every year. This year we will gather at Pitt State where I will reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, attend some great workshops (it's so hard to choose!), and donate some art to the silent auction so that future students will have the same opportunity to attend the conference that I had. 
If you've never been to a KAEA conference before, I encourage you to join us and try it out! There is still time for pre-service art teachers to apply for grants and you can find the information here: Apply for that grant, attend the conference, TALK to people, take pictures, and be awesome! Please let me know if you have any questions about KAEA, our conference, or the student grants.
-Katie Morris, KAEA Webmaster, PreK-12th grade Art Teacher USD 335. 

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