Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Covid Check In


I hope this message finds you well. I have waited to reach out knowing many of you have been inundated by emails the last several weeks about covid-19. I didn’t want to add to the pile and waited until I hoped you would feel more settled in your district's continuing education plan.  For our emeritus members, I am sure there has been at least one moment of, thank goodness I’m retired! 

I have actually started this letter many times and finding it hard to get it written! Since started I have had multiple calls and texts from my school administrators, multiple texts from co-workers, 100’s of emails, multiple of zoom meetings, responding to my amazing students fabulous artwork submissions, more social media notifications than I can count, meeting the needs of my family, staying connected with my friends, wargaming how to get to the store for needed supplies, doctors’ appointments and the list goes on.  

I tell you these things because I want you to realize you aren’t alone, my list may be more or less than yours, but I would venture to guess the stress we are all feeling is across the board. It’s normal right now to feel like you are riding a bike 24/7, and the bike is on fire, and you are trying to juggle.  Your feelings are valid and I want you to take time to acknowledge that and give yourself grace. 

As a fellow educator I find myself up late more often than not these last few weeks. Concerned for my students, concerned for the impact the pandemic will have on all of our lives, concerned for the health of those I know and love. I know I am not alone. Covid-19 will affect our future and have a ripple effect that may last years or a lifetime. We can view it pessimistically, or we can find the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The arts matter. We say it all the time. Each and every one of you knows this with all your heart, but stop and look around you. In times of turmoil and with so many unknowns coming to our very doorstep, where did people turn for comfort. The arts. More people are creating, appreciating and soaking up the arts. More people are learning the history of great art movements and why they came to pass by relating them to the experiences they are living right now.  I find the many tableaux being created so beautiful, ingenious, heartwarming and sometimes humorous. I find the sidewalk chalk, hearts, signs, mask making, memes and other creative outlets uplifting to my very soul, knowing the arts are playing such a massive role in everyone's life and that the arts are helping to heal us. 

Many of you are experiencing being told by your district you are now a “may do” class vs. a “must do” class. You may find it frustrating, infuriating, depressing, and more. Your emotions are valid and you are not alone with them. How can the arts matter when we feel ignored?

The arts matter, YOU as an artist and an educator matter.  There is a reason Dr. Watson’s team made sure to include the arts in our state's continuing education plan.  I look at the turn to the comfort of the arts around the world as a platform for what we do in education.  The cross curricular nature of our subject area, the therapeutic value, the intrinsic need to create in times of stress.  Hold that close, and remember it when you talk to others and continue to do what you always do, advocate for the arts.

I want you to remember the Kansas Art Education association is here for you during this time.  We may not have all the answers you need, but through our network we can find those answers.  We have amazing things happening in the art education world in Kansas and I couldn't be prouder of each of our members working so hard during a challenging time in our state.

Your safety as an educator is always on my mind and I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are healthy physically/mentally and safe. Please reach out if needed even if you just need a supportive ear, we are here for you, we will stand beside you and together we will get through this time in our nation’s history.

Your partner in art education,

Kate Miller
KAEA President 

Below I want to share some notes from other KAEA board members who are also thinking of you right now.

From Natalie Brown – Treasurer 
“Hi everyone!  It has been so good to see the sharing and collaboration happening in our online groups and the support of teachers for one another! My district has a one to one device initiative so we are transitioning heavily to online learning. This has been a learning curve for me, but I know the resources I am developing now will only help strengthen my classroom in the future.  I miss seeing my students, so those weekly Zoom meetings really help me feel like we're still connected. Talk and just visit- most of teaching is connections over curriculum. Still, many kids have dropped off in interest or participation so I'll share what my principal has said repeatedly- "Water the flowers!" That is where our focus should be- on those kids who still want to grow and learn!”

From Kathy Schroeder – Advocacy and incoming President-Elect 
“Hello everyone! On this rainy April day as I struggle with the technical aspects of teaching online. I find myself wondering where oh where did my digital grade book go? and why oh why do only half the slides upload? and when oh when will my students post their work? 

In my wondering I have turned to one of my favorite authors Maya Angelou, for wisdom, and find she has something to say that fits both the weather and my situation. I offer you two quotes that I hope may help you, as they did me, to navigate in this rainy weather. 

First, as I ask what can I do to help others when I myself feel so inadequate to the tasks at hand? Maya Angelou says: “God puts rainbows in the clouds so that each of us - in the dreariest and most dreaded moments - can see a possibility of hope.” 

And then she suggests "The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud."

My colorful and creative art friends, my wish for you is that you may be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud, as you have often been the rainbow in my cloud. And I promise to try to be a rainbow in your cloud! Your friend in art and the clouds, Kathy”

From Linda Nelson-Bova - Membership Chair, YAM Co-Chair, 2020 Conference Co-Chair, and former President
” Rest assured that I am very happy to be retired during this challenging time—but, all of this has made me really proud to be able to follow my fellow art teachers from afar!  Our members have shown courage, creativity, patience, perseverance and a great deal of leadership over the past month.  In the long-run, teachers will learn a slew of new skills and develop a whole new appreciation for the “normal” with some more than likely new additions to their curriculums.  Hang in there---and, summer will be here before we know it!”

From Audra Shelite – Newsletter
“Ultimately, the challenge of teaching, parenting, and creating art from home has had me looking to cups of coffee for motivation and not finding it. I have had to dig deeper. I am working to stop mindlessly scrolling through social media and instead, find what truly feeds my soul: creativity and connection. It no longer serves me well to scroll past a post and click "like," and maybe it never did. Now I see the need to comment and interact and be a part of a conversation. I might even need to write a post and share some photos that aren't just about my kids and their milestones. I started looking at sharing my artwork as a way to brighten someone else's day and as one of the few ways right now that I can share the importance of creativity.  This isn't just about social media, but a lesson for me about showing up for life in general. Sharing, commenting, and speaking up makes me feel very vulnerable, but I'm learning that if I am going to spend time on social media (or with a group of people when it is safe to do so) that I need to make it a beneficial time of connection. The same applies to time with family in that not every moment needs to be a heart-to-heart, but I need to be fully present when we do have conversations. Working from home has blurred the lines of "work time" and "family time" and "rest time" so I am practicing setting aside time for each of these necessities and being fully present in those moments. I realize not everyone will have these same challenges or feelings, but for those that do, I want to encourage you that your voice and your creativity are valuable.”

From Katie Morris – Webmaster
“Hi art teachers! We just wanted to remind you that we have your back, now more than ever! If you have something going great, we want to help you celebrate and share your experience to help inspire others. If you are struggling, we’re here for that too! Reach out and talk to us and I promise we will try to help. Even if it’s a problem without a solution, you’ll feel better remembering that  even if you’re the only art teacher in your school, you are not alone! In this together, Katie”

KAEA Mission Statement

KAEA is dedicated to the advancement of the human and cultural understanding through the study of art by providing opportunities for professional growth and development, exchange of knowledge and ideas, and service and leadership for the advancement of quality art education.