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Stepping Stones Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks in art education into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of hot topics and research in the field today. Build Your Leadership Capacity in Art Education by Jessica Balsley W hen teachers hear the words “Teacher Leader,” we can sometimes feel a wave of anxiety hit. If I’m pegged as a “leader” in my district or school, this must mean I’ll be putting in a lot of extra work for little extra reward. Leadership does not have to be this way. All teachers are leaders, and each person can define what leadership looks like to them. Teachers must take a leadership stance to grow professionally. Ask yourself what you would like to do to continue to expand and grow in the field of art education, and then carve your own path to make those dreams happen. Leadership does not have to mean late-night meetings or hours on a tedious committee. You have the ability to define your own leadership. This list will help you brainstorm ways to take yourself to the next level in leadership—in your own unique way! educators who share triumphs, trials and great new ideas online. Become an active member of an online community, and not just a lurker. Comment and ask questions on your favorite blog. Submit a question to an online forum. Once you become a part of the conversation, and make connections with other art educators, you will instantly see yourself grow and become inspired. PRESENT AT A CONFERENCE Surely your state has a local art-educator’s conference. Instead of simply attending, even if you have not attended in a while, put yourself out there by filling out a presenter form. You have so many great things to share; why not take a risk and see what kind of reward may surface from it? If you have not attended recently, make it your small goal to at least attend and get some great new ideas. It will be worth the drive, I promise! 5 completed their master’s degrees. What did you do with your thesis after you completed your degree? Is it sitting somewhere buried deep in the files of your computer? Drag it out. Ar t-education journals are looking for research in ar t education. You put all of that work in—now share it! 1 SUBMIT YOUR RESEARCH Many teachers have become a more reflective teacher, share your profession with other teachers and students, and record all of the great things that are happening in your art room. GUEST POST ON A BLOG Too daunted to start your own blog, or don’t have enough time? Bloggers, like myself and so many others, love to get experts to guest post on our blogs to share new and inventive ideas. This would be a really safe way to step up your leadership and grow professionally without a long-term commitment. 6 START A BLOG Starting a blog is a great way to time you took a class or workshop in your field? Find a workshop in your area, or an online professional-development course in art education. Bring back ideas from your class and share with the other teachers in your school or district. Instant leadership! 2 TAKE A CLASS OR WORKSHOP When was the last 7 “I’ve always wanted to submit a project to an arteducation magazine, but I never have.” For some reason, something keeps teachers from following through. Maybe it’s a time constraint, perhaps just self-doubt. Finally take charge and submit that great idea you’ve been hiding. Arts & Activities magazine is always looking for excellent content from art teachers just like you! 3 SUBMIT AN ARTICLE Many teachers say to me, Make a goal for yourself to grow in this profession. Otherwise, you could easily become stuck in a rut! Pick one simple step from the list above to try—it can be daunting to feel as if you have to try them all. Once you have tried one, assess how it makes you feel. Is this the professional path you were hoping to be on? If not, reassess and try something else. Soon you will see yourself in a new light, exuding more confidence and leadership potential in art education! n Jessica Balsley is a K–5 art educator and the founder of www., which offers a wide range of services designed just for art teachers. februar y 2012 4 10 INTERACT ONLINE Blogs, forums, online communities, Twitter and Facebook are teeming with art x

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