Sunday, November 1, 2015

State conference season - your input requested!

I've been reading a lot of recent blog and Facebook posts about state art teacher conferences - from Vermont to Tennessee to Georgia to Alabama and more, and while there are similarities, there also appear to be huge differences in how our state conventions are structured.  Some of the pictures shared from your conferences have gotten me REALLY excited, thinking "I wonder if we could do that type of activity in New York State?"  (For example, the umbrella parade in Alabama looked fabulous - though our weather in November would not be appropriate for scheduling any outdoor activity.  As a matter of fact, last year a large contingent from the Buffalo area got snowed in and couldn't make it to the convention!  Hopefully that won't happen again this year.) 
Here in NY state, our conference is coming in just short of three weeks, and it's got me thinking about what we can learn from each other, in order to make our conferences the best they can possibly be, for all of us who look forward to attending them each year.  (By the way - all pics in this post are from past state conventions here in NY.  The tooling foil pics are from a workshop I taught; I'm teaching it again this year!)
 So, I've got some questions for you about your conferences, and I'd love it if you'd leave comments.  I'm thinking that we can learn stuff that will help us improve our own future conventions!  What do you think?  SO, without further ado...
  • About how many people attend your state conference?  I'm not sure, but I believe we usually have 400-600 people at ours here in NY.  When I see some of the pics from conferences in other states, I sometimes wonder if having a large attendance can be a detriment to scheduling certain types of activities.
  • Where do you hold your conference?  Are you at a hotel/convention center like our conventions in NY state?  Or do you something completely different?  If you don't hold your conference at a hotel/convention center, where do the attendees stay?  Again, I'm wondering if size/numbers is a deciding factor....
  •  Do you hold your conference at the same place every year, or rotate it around your state?  How do you decide where it should be?  Here in NY, over the past several  years we have rotated between the Rochester convention center (where we are headed this year), a convention hotel in Albany (the past two years), and a hotel in Westchester (just north of NYC).  It would be too expensive to hold it in NYC.  Our decisions are largely based on being financially practical, and returning to a location that has treated us well. 
  • What do you do about meals?  Here in NY, the meals are provided by the hotel/convention center, but attendees have to select and pay to attend them, separate from the convention registration fee.  The lunches and dinners can be a bit pricey, but that is controlled by the venue.  They are held right at the venue so when you attend lunch, you don't waste any conference time.   And the dinners are award events, so it is nice to have as many attendees as possible.  (Friday dinner includes special citations and awards, and at Saturday dinner we honor the state Teacher of the Year.  We also have "Friday After Dark" hands-on extended workshops after the Friday dinner, and a fun Saturday night party event after Saturday dinner. )
  • How many days does your conference run?  Do you have a pre-conference?  Our convention is all day Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday morning there is a final keynote speaker, and a hearty brunch with the regional teacher of the year awards, and the vendor raffle.   Most years, there is a pre-conference on Thursday.  We've been having a Friday/Saturday convention for many years now, as it became too difficult for people to attend consecutive weeks.
  • What happens at your convention?  We have close to 100 workshops scheduled this year, plus four keynote/super-session presentations.  Some years, depending on the location, there are off-site workshops or events you can attend.  There is a commercial vendor area, college exhibitor area, a student exhibit, a juried member exhibit, and an artisan's market. 
  • Are your workshops a mix of hands-on and presentation style?  Which are most popular?  Are your workshops all free, or are some for a fee? 
  • Do college students attend your convention?  We usually have a contingent of wonderful art ed students from some terrific colleges.  
  •  What about special events, parties, activities?  We've held Saturday night TASK parties, scavenger hunts, DJ and dancing (usually every year), and this year will have a "Partici-Paint" activity that will involve creating pieces to be auctioned with proceeds going to our scholarship fund.  In addition, for the past few years our region has hosted a "Bling Your Badge" table, ongoing throughout the convention.  
  •  And finally, do you present workshops at your conference?  Are you compensated in any way? 
OK - I think that's enough questions!  I'd love to hear about what makes your conference special!  I'm looking forward to stealing some of your ideas for the future!!!

11 comments:

  1. I love the Bling your Badge. This will be my first time to attend our state conference. I'll try to share information after next weekend. I will also be a co-presenter with the High School teacher from my district. Come over to North Adams next weekend and attend the Massachusetts conference with us!!!

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    1. The Bling Your Badge was totally my idea! We started it because the conference was in our region in Albany for 2 years, but I asked to continue it annually and stay in charge. Everyone loves having a place to play!

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    2. Your conference is in North Adams?? So much possibility there, with Mass MoCA and such! We just passed through there last weekend on our way home from Boston; it's about an hour and a half from my home. I'm VERY curious to hear where you all stay; how many attendees, and such. North Adams isn't very big! I'd love to sneak in, but I have my step-grandson's birthday party on Saturday and besides, I doubt a freeloader would be appreciated. Looking forward to hearing all about it though! What are you presenting?

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  2. Phyl, your conference looks like it will be chocked full of great workshops!! What did you decide to present besides the tooling? While I am not going to our state conference (in Sacramento, the state capitol) I did peruse the schedule. It goes from Fri -Sun, with most workshops on Saturday. I noted that they have tours scheduled on (museums, studios, state capitol building) - not sure I would want to give up valuable hands-on workshop time for that. In addition to workshops, they have conversations with artists, Master Classes on-site (not sure what that is - but sounds interesting), studio drawing sessions with live models, studio visit with artist. I have always found that hands-on sessions with teacher leaders most rewarding, but some of these ideas sound interesting, too.
    Have a blast at your conference. You always take such great photos -- looking forward to them!!

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    1. Oh my goodness - my Friday night After Dark workshop is tooling foil - 8:330-11:00pm! Craziness! During the daytime, I'll be presenting a hands-on roofing felt workshop, plus an informational "great ideas with recycled materials" and a presentation about my Crizmac/School Arts travel experience to the Folk Art Festival in Santa Fe.

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    2. I'd LOVE. Some studio time with a live model. It's been years!

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    3. We have had museum visits included too, but I've never attended because I don't want my limited time to be off-site. But sometimes I've regretted not getting to these places.

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  3. I wish there was a way to get all handouts / lesson plans for every state conference for those like me that cannot attend because of financial reasons. Ive attended my state conference only once, two years ago, because the three art teachers in my district caused a ruckus because EVERY other group in our district have had their conferences paid for by the district, except us! This is my 21st year teaching, all in the same district! Now, no one goes unless it is math, language arts, technology, or you pay yourself, which many can't afford. :( It was a great experience when I attended....set up much like yours. Ohio rotates each year to a different major city...Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, this year is Dayton. Always at a hotel/convention center.

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    1. Tricia, even going to the conference you won't get all the handouts/lesson plans! With close to 100 workshops at our conference, that would be a lot of paper, and we just haven't caught up with the ability to do it all digitally, like at the national convention.

      Here's a trick that I used to get approved to go to my state conference. Sign up to present a workshop! The district will find it much harder to reject your request to go, if they know you are representing your district by teaching at the conference. I started doing it about a dozen years ago, and it is so worth it! Not only did my district (before I retired) agree to send me when I asked, I also met lots of new people by teaching and learned so much in the process.

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  4. I am excited as I am presenting at our State Conference (Art Education Victoria) for the first time in December this year!!! I will be presenting a session on BLOGGING and why it's a great thing to do and the impact it has had on my teaching. presenting is something I have always wanted to do so I'm glad I have been brave enough to take the plunge. And I agree with you. It is much more difficult for your school/district to knock back your request to go if you are a presenter! 100+ workshops, wow, we don't have anything like that many, but I wish we did!!!

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    1. Victoria! Awesome! I'd love to hear about your conference when it is done, and what you are talking about in your blogging session.

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