2012 Art Ed Conference Tour Recap

If you’ve been following our updates on Facebook and Twitter, you know a little bit about AOE’s ‘Art Ed Conference Tour’ this fall, and what a whirlwind 2 month’s we’ve had. Getting out from behind the “screen” and talking with art educators from around the country was such a wonderful experience. We had a booth in the exhibitors section to let teachers know about our professional development opportunities such as AOE Classes and PD PAKS. I also spoke at breakout sessions on topics from Blogging to Assessment to help teachers learn some new strategies to take into their classroom.

Today I want to share with you some of the highlights of our tour and let you know we are planning to do another next fall, so if you are interested in having us come out to your conference for presentations, keynote speeches, or to provide other creative professional development fun for art teachers, please let me know. It’s nice to see a familiar faces at local conferences!

The first stop on the tour was my home state of Iowa, which combined their conference with Nebraska in Council Bluff, IA, near Omaha. The highlight of this conference was meeting up with AOE team members Cassidy and Chelsie! You should have heard the ideas flying around for new articles, eBooks, and PD for AOE as we all chatted. We could have used a few more days together. It was great meeting so many fabulous art teachers, especially the ones I already knew so well since they had taken one of AOE’s online classes before. I feel like I “knew” them from our online interactions, so meeting in person was the icing on the cake. I also was able to meet Deborah Reeve, NAEA’s executive director, who was keynoting at this particular conference. We talked shop about Professional Development.

Wisconsin was a delightful trip, the lake side town of Sheboygan boasted some fun restaurants and shops and the WAEA even put on an evening social. AOE team member, Amanda and myself had fun talking about work and having a little fun, too, in the meantime. Derek visited Kansas this same weekend, and talked with many art educators there, too.

Illinois really knows how to put on a professional, jam-packed and well run conference.  Before my presentation I went into the room 20 minutes ahead of time to set up my projector, laptop, etc, like any good speaker would do. As I walked in the door, my heart about fell to the ground. The room was already PACKED with people. Teachers were sitting on the floor, standing along the walls and up front, too. I don’t think there were very many other sessions offered at this time – OR – my presentation description was extra enticing (ha) either way, when it was all said and done, we counted over 120 people in the room. I literally had a 1 foot x 1 foot area to stand because there were people at my feet. My thoughts: Bring it on! The more the merrier. I spoke about both Assessment and Blogging and in talking with people after the presentation, many stated it was one of the most informative presentations hey heard all day. My heart skipped a beat.

Derek and I also were fortunate enough to have dinner with some of the most inspiriting art educators from Art Ed world including Tricia Fuglestead, Theresa McGee and Hillary Andrlik of The Teaching Palette, and Craig Rolland, founder of Art Ed 2.0 Community. The tweets, emails, FB updates were humming at the table as well tried to connect both digitally and in person with each other. It was an art teacher heaven.

In Minnesota (and by the way ‘Minnesota Nice’ is not just a saying, these people were amazing!) You just never know who might walk by your exhibitor booth. I was caught by surprise when one of my blogger friends Mini Matisse walked right past. Hooray!  I think she was equally surprised to see me standing there, straight out of the computer screen into her conference. We caught up like old friends.

I have to say the best part of attending these events for me was speaking to art teachers during my breakout sessions.  I know the thought of getting up in front of 100 plus people might send some people running the other direction (just like driving in rush hour makes me feel!) but for me, I just love the energy of a live audience and sharing some of the stories and information that I know will help art teachers take their profession to the next level. We are not meant to do this job alone, which is why we have each other. It’s so powerful!

Can you find me in the red scarf?

J. Frisco from Minnesota also posted this on the AOE Community forum:  The highlight of my day was Session II, in which I was able to hear directly from Jessica B, founder of AOE.  I am SO thankful that I was able to attend this conference, if only for the inspiring resources I gained from listening to her speak today.  All art educators in the audience were engaged and hanging upon her every word.. Blushing again! I told you all the AOE fans were amazing!

Thank goodness for professional development, conference organizers who volunteer their time, grandparents who are willing to nanny, comfortable shoes, husbands who carry heavy things, and most importantly art teachers who care enough to come out of their everyday routine and uplevel their professional devleopment by attending a conference!

As I mentioned before, our dates are booking up for next fall’s conference tour, so if you want AOE to come to your conference, or are interested in having me keynote, let me know. We haven’t decided 100% which states we are are going to visit yet in 2013, so the door is wide open but not for long! I promise it will fun. Maybe see you there?

Ok, so were you at any of our events? I’d love to hear your ideas for next year’s presentations! 

What about your local conference this year? What were the highlights?

Interested in having Jessica/AOE attend or speak at your next conference?  Let us know! 


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • http://beyondroygbiv.blogspot.com/ Amy Kratochvil

    Oh, my goodness – such a table full of inspirational professionals! I want to be in that picture with all of you Art Ed Geniuses!!

    • https://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Amy – I was totally pinching myself. Illinois was an amazing art ed conference! 

  • http://mrseukensartmooseum.wordpress.com/ Eukent

    A shout out to anybody that did not go to any of the conferences this past year and have the opportunity to listen to Jessica speak,   GO NEXT YEAR!!!!  It was fun.  Jessica’s energy is exciting!

  • Ted Edinger

    Maybe you don’t want to give away such information Jessica…but I’d LOVE to get to speak at other conferences & such!!!! I know you have an actual product..and I just have a blog,…but any ideas how I can make it happen!?!?

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