Monthly Mentor

Brooke Anne Hofsess (January)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Hofsess is an art educator and qualitative methodologist immersed in aesthetic and poetic approaches to inquiry. Her projects contemplate teacher education and renewal through the creative practices of handmade papermaking, book arts, letterpress, and photography. She is the author of the book, Unfolding Afterglow: Letters and Conversations on Teacher Renewal. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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January 01, 2019

The Being of Renewal

By Brooke Hofsess

I am delighted to be in touch with you as NAEA’s January 2019 Monthly Mentor. The relationship between teacher renewal and professional learning, especially as it concerns artist-teachers, is one of my areas of interest. Over the next month, you can expect a series of shorts essays from me around the topic, The Being of Renewal. In this series I will:

  • Introduce my perspectives on renewal and professional learning;
  • Offer a provocation from my creative practice of book arts/journaling;
  • Share a profusion of resources (a list of what I am reading and taking in for renewal);
  • Dig into some of the politics that limit what we might imagine as renewal in our professional learning, and offer some alternative possibilities.


For now, I’ll jump in by offering a brief context regarding my perspectives on renewal and professional learning. Teacher renewal is often discussed (in the context of professional learning) as the credits needed to keep a teaching license up-to-date or to satisfy a school mandated requirement. Yet, linguistically, the word renewal implies a sense of moving, becoming, reaching, repairing-- and it is these overtones that really intrigue me. My work reaches toward a re-imagining of teacher renewal as the geographies of connectedness that artist-teachers live through in their practices.

Through my teaching and research, I have come to see professional learning as more generative and elusive than what we often designate as half-day workshops and training seminars; I see it as teachers learning together and alone as they experience the world in various ways that circle back to their work in classrooms (Day & Sachs, 2005). I feel energized by recent scholarship exploring the potential of professional learning opportunities that are robustly “… experimental, experiential, empowering, ongoing, contextual, collaborative, connecting theory to practice” (Macintyre Latta & Kim, 2010, p. 139). For artist-teachers, I recognize that this potential brings a responsibility and an attention to a need for “ongoing professional development support for the deeply embedded artist identities of many arts teachers” (Scheib, 2006, p. 9). It makes good sense to me that artists who teach benefit from ongoing, creative conversation and action— making, doing, imagining, sketching, living fully, visiting museums, listening, reading, playing, sharing and conversing with others along the way. All of this and more informs my sense of renewal as a way of being in the world-- moving, becoming, reaching, repairing.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts (Hofsess, 2016):

Professional learning is holistic and unbounded, entangling personal and professional threads.

Renewal is not an end, product, destination. You cannot arrive there, because you are forever on the move.

In my next post, I will be writing to you from my bookbinding table in order to share a provocation that jumpstarts my renewal. It is one I share with my preservice students almost every semester. I look forward to your feedback and ideas. Feel free to leave suggestions or requests in the comments.

- BH

 

References

Hofsess, B. A. (2016). Unfolding afterglow: Letters and conversations on teacher renewal. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2016.

Latta, M. M., & Kim, J. H. (2009). Narrative inquiry invites professional development: Educators claim the creative space of praxis. Journal of Educational Research, 103(2), 137–148.

Sachs, J., & Day, C. (2004). International Handbook on the Continuing Professional Development of Teachers. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Scheib, J. W. (2006). Policy implications for teacher retention: Meeting the needs of the dual identities of arts educators. Arts Education Policy Review, 107(6), 5–10.

 

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