This blog was born as part of my Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship, where I got to blow $10k on writing workshops and a sweet new laptop (thanks, Lilly Endowment!), and one of my annual traditions is to update it during Teacher Camp, aka the Extending Teacher Creativity Workshop which is usually held at Indiana State University but this year–for obvious reasons–was held virtually.
Susan Powers, the woman who organizes the event each year is always an incredible powerhouse but this year, considering I got THREE shipments of workshop supplies and swag, and so did everybody else, she deserves a medal.
Sessions were held over Zoom, and while I certainly missed the delightful catering that characterizes most years’ workshops, and the random encounters with such a wide swath of my profession, it was great to still be able to see my “camp friends” and try out some new things. Each year after the first year teachers can choose a big workshop and a “mini” workshop; this year, I chose Made to Create (aka a watercolor workshop) for my major course and a bracelet-making workshop for my mini. That meant I got a box of watercolor supplies, a lightboard (!!), modeling clay and twine, a very sharp Exact-o knife, and a whole bunch of other treats (black masking tape! Very sharp scissors! A variety-pack of Sharpies! Yes, I am easy to please).
Our instructor for the watercolor workshop worked her tail off, too, making us TEN videos highlighting different skills, techniques, and projects. After setting up my work station, and then setting up a decoy station to distract my kids, I got to work, and…. managed to watch and paint along with three of the ten videos.
Don’t get me wrong – I still had an excellent time. And since the videos are still up for the time being, it’s possible that I might “catch up” later (not likely, mind you… but possible!). It was hard to carve out the time while I was still physically at home — when I go to Terre Haute, I’m gone, so it’s a lot easier to focus — but I still really enjoyed what I got to do.
It also let me be a student on a Zoom call and really experience the distractions, frustrations, and challenges of e-learning from the student side. There were some plusses (doing the videos when I wanted to, at my own pace) and some minuses (having to do videos instead of being in the room with others, to learn collaboratively or get immediate feedback). I already have a tendency to “go rogue” on things like this, and being in a room full of other people can help me stay focused and keep me from losing track of time (two opposite problems, both of which I have when it comes to art).
As usual, I finished ETCW grateful for the Lilly Foundation and its support of Indiana teachers, with some good ideas to steal and some reminders about what doesn’t work (definitely remind everybody who isn’t talking to stay on mute… yikes).
Now I’m going to go bust out my sewing machine and see if I can make my ETCW2020 t-shirt into an ETCW2020 face mask. Wish me luck!