I recently read a blog by Barbara Blackburn about teaching and motivation. She says, “Motivation is part of your job description. Keeping yourself motivated is a critical part of your job. If you aren’t motivated, you will burn out and you won’t be able to positively impact your students.”
I’ll admit that during my long teaching career of more than 20 years, there have been times when I have found myself unmotivated. Maybe that’s true for all of us as teachers at some point in our careers. I have learned, however, that the best medicine for lack of motivation is to surround myself with inspiration.
Recently, I attended the NAEA convention in New York, and found myself in just such an environment of inspiration. If you ever have the chance to go to one of these conventions, I encourage you to attend! I was inspired by hundreds of fellow art educators that were willing to share their ideas, world-famous artwork I was able to enjoy at several nearby museums, and a great collection of student designed YAM flags displayed from every state in the country!
One of the highlights of every convention is visiting the exhibit hall, which is filled with vendors that invite teachers to experiment with all kinds of art products. These vendors also advertise various opportunities for teachers. One of the booths that caught my attention was promoting the National Gallery’s Summer Teacher Institute. “Have you applied?” the gentleman asked me. I told him I had in the past, but hadn’t been accepted. “Try again,” he said, “you still have time.” And for some reason, that brief interaction stuck in my head. The minute I returned home, I started working on my application. And just this past week, I received word that I have been accepted – one of only fifty attendees from the entire country. What an honor! I’m so excited, and so looking forward to surrounding myself with some more great inspiration in Washington DC this summer.
There are so many opportunities for inspiration nearby, but sometimes, we need a little encouragement to take the initiative and grab them. Just within our state alone, we have the TN Arts Academy, The Appalachian Center for Craft, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, which offer great opportunities for teachers during the summer. We also have wonderful art museums in Tennessee and the surrounding states that are well within driving distance. See an exhibit, take a class, make some art, and/or spend time talking with other art educators! I encourage you to use this summer to get motivated, and come back to school in August with a renewed spirit for your students. It’s a win/win situation for everyone involved!
Written by Angela McCarter