October 05, 2011

Why Aren't More Involved?

I'm wondering if other states are having the same issue as us....membership?  Why aren't more art educators involved with their state organization?  How do we encourage others to join?  WHY SHOULD THEY?  WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?  I have been a member for most of my career (there has been a year or two where I let my membership lapse), but I love belonging.  I don't need a reason other than I'm an art educator & these are my people.  However, others need to have a greater understanding of why they should join, what is the benefit of membership, and how does it make a difference in our profession.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this. 


  1. Great post. I became a member this year after hearing that other teachers were members. I'm not sure what the benefits are though. I receive the publications in the mail but find they are a bit too analytical for me, so I can't say they are of any benefit to this visual gal.
    I seriously considered going to a convention last year but the promos never quite got me to commit. Am I missing some great benefit? I'd love to hear your opinions as how the program inspires or benefits you.

  2. Patty...I so appreciate your honesty! I'm going to have a post in the next couple days to talk about the benefit...after people have had time to post. The elementary art teachers of my district had this discussion on our facebook page.

  3. When I was in college I was very involved in the state organization (MAEA, Missouri)- my Southwest District did a lot of things together and everyone knew everyone else. Now I live/teach in a different part of the state and almost no one is involved with the state org- maybe its because it is a larger area or because the districts are so big that the art teachers do not need it as a resource. Either way, I know I love being a member even if its just a way to make some friends!

  4. I love when I receive my states (Michigan) conference flyer! And then reality hits. The membership fee and conference fee alone is several hundred dollars. I know, I know a great investment but as a single mom with two in college that money is tagged for other things right now. My district will not pay for me to go either. So the good news is that only 18 months and they are out! Maybe then...

  5. Not only did I not know the benefits before our facebook discussion, I find the TAEA page difficult to Navigate. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be a member of NAEA, TAEA, or if being a member of one gets you into the other? In short, as artists, we aren't always the best at the drudgery and details of everyday communication, and I think we need to be better advocates of our profession and our professional organizations if we want membership to increase.

  6. I'm involved because of my graduate school advisor. I was like a lot of teachers who taught FOR YEARS without joining. But, now that I am a member and a board member I see a lot of benefits.

    1. Support from a community of like-minded individuals. Going to conferences gives you an opportunity to talk with people who are dealing with the same issues positive and negative as you. And, you get to learn -and learn fast!- from there years of collective experience!

    2. Professionalism. I think it says a lot about your commitment to your profession when you can claim membership to NAEA and your local AEA.

    3. Trends. Your local AEA and NAEA stay on-top of what the local and national trends for art education and this serves you well. They can alert you to upcoming changes etc. that can drastically effect you, your school, your budget, your tenure etc. etc.

    4. Sharing. By sharing your content knowledge by hosting workshops at conference you are able to show off your knowledge and grow through sharing it with others. . .Also, this links back to professionalism.

    5. Support Arts Programming and Education. Music programs in my state -and probably yours- have a lot of support. That is due in large part to the host of contests, opportunities and showcases made available through the Music Education Association. Georgia, where I teach, has nearly 100% participation in the Music Education Association based on the number of music teachers employed. This number drives the organization to develop programs that support and legitimize the discipline to bureaucrats. The GAEA cannot quote anywhere close to that high number. I know music is collaborative, so that may make is easier for people to want to join MEA, but still, we need to get people involved.

    6. You have an opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. I listened to a local arts educator speak recently. S/he is passionate and celebrated in his/her small community. S/he gave a long speech about how we need to rally -as art teachers- and show how art is important and can change the world. But, I know for fact that this person does not participate in any other programs other than those program s/he sponsors at his/her educational institute. And, s/he isn't a member of NAEA or GAEA. So. . . .I'm at a loss there. How can you change the world when you aren't willing to reach past your own comfort zone? There are a ton of ways that Art can change the world. . .But you don't need to start your own organization for Art Education; it already exists!

  7. I believe it is very important to belong to my state's Art Ed. Assoc. I don't always have the cash to keep my membership current, but if the conference is within a 100 mile range, I try to attend. Honestly, last year's was the high point for me after many years of so so conferences. This year's was last weekend and I had other obligations and couldn't go, but I read the program on line and don't think I missed any spectacular workshops. I am proud to say that my very first student teacher is the President of our states' assoc. I like to think I had a hand in that...LOL

  8. I am a member of my state organization and always have been because I think it is important to stay involved. Subscription to Studies in Art education is great. I also like that I have a free place for an online portfolio with digication. I prefer sharing that with admin rather than my blog, which is just a bit more personal. When I lived in TN, I LOVED the state conference. I don't know if it is still the same way, but I much preferred being immersed in a subject matter for the weekend, rather than spending an hour or two in different workshops all over the place. I have enjoyed other state's conferences as well. I haven't been to a conference in OK yet, but I am still a member. I really want to be more involved than just a membership card, though!

  9. Ted, I've been a member of my statewide organization most of my 36 years teaching, but I haven't been a member of the national organization, but maybe I should have.

    I love attending the annual state conference, since I work in isolation from other art teachers and this is my one opportunity a year for meaningful professional development and dialogue with other art teachers. But over the years there were times I have gone at great expense, in years that my district wouldn't pay for my room etc. I've been teaching workshops for 7 or 8 years now, and that has been really meaningful for me but, it's another one of those things you do with absolutely no compensation. Lots of prep time, and less opportunities to attend workshops at the conference - I wish there was SOMETHING in return.

    My statewide organization has changed dramatically over the years, and not always for the best. In my early years, we were a hippie dippy group, with funky clothing and crazy "happenings" in the lobby, and costumes at the dinner banquets. For several years, at the dinner banquet,the centerpieces, which included balloons, would be disassembled and reassembled by the people at various tables, and eventually, with balloons attached, would be floating sculptural pieces gently drifting from table to table. Such fun!! I miss those days. Nowadays, I find these dinners to have an "in crowd" that I do not feel a part of even after seeing these faces annually for years, and because of expense many of the younger teachers do not even attend the dinners. Awards are given at the dinner (teacher of the year for each region, etc), but people like me would never ever receive them, so while I go to the banquets, I don't enjoy sitting through the awards that seem to always go out to the same group of people. We all want to be noticed from time to time.

    We have 2 art teachers in our district, and until this year, I was the the only one who was even a member of the organization. I haven't participated much in my regional group because I am geographically at the far reaches of my region and it would take me more than an hour to get to the Albany area for a meeting, and frankly the group either doesn't meet much or doesn't communicate when it meets, even though I have often asked.

    In all honestly there hasn't been much benefit from being a member if I wasn't interested in attending the annual conference. I wish we were better at this stuff, but I think it's a fault of art teachers that we are not always so good at the organizational stuff.

    One more thing - which is a slam on my own state and no reflection on any others - for rural teachers like myself our state conferences can often be intimidating. For example, this year's conference is in Tarrytown, not too far north of NYC. For those of you who've never met someone from the Big Apple, they can be an intimidating bunch. It's not a problem for me, because I was born in the city and therefore traveled there often as a child (and still do) but for those without the experience, New Yorkers from the City can seem pushy, aggressive, and condescending, and for someone not used to this it can be pretty uncomfortable. I know I need to be prepared for this at my workshop this November - they will interrupt, get impatient, expect to get everything first. Luckily I have the experience to be ready for it!

    I think I've babbled too long - I don't even remember the question that I was trying to answer! :)

  10. I have to agree with what Jody said I too live in MI and every year want to join but I just can't afford it. It's my second year working as a full time art teacher but with our crazy state budget cuts on education I took a hit to my pay and my health insurance. The money that I would use to pay those expensive membership fees need to cover that and with a 2 yr old and another on the way the money is also slated for daycare.

  11. I was a member of my state (Arkansas) for several years and then I stopped. I don't really know what the benfits of membership are other than receiving a discount at the state conference but when you add the cost of membership to the conference fee it is more money than if I just pay for the non-member conference fee so I no longer saw a benefit there. I agree with Patty that the publications I recieved from NAEA were well...boring. I feel that with the amount of talented teachers they are pulling from that they (NAEA) should be able to put out a more useful publication. I personally am not into all of the political stuff. I would LOVE to go to a national conference but the cost is HUGE, wasn't covered(not even partially)by my school and my school would never grant me time off to attend. Also - when I attend my state conference I feel like it is a clique I am not a part of. All of the teachers from the large school districts win all the awards, are selected to give all the presentations and always seem to have first dibs on all the best classes. at the awards dinner it is always the same teachers speaking telling inside jokes that only a handful of teachers get. I was teaching where I was the ONLY art teacher in a k-12 school. The conference was not designed to make people like me feel welcome or important.

  12. Came back to see what other art teachers had to say about memberships. Seems like a topic worth exploring. I look forward to your next post on NAEA!