Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



Join the largest creative community established exclusively for visual arts educators, college professors, researchers, administrators, and museum educators.

Join NAEA Renew Membership

« Lowered Expectations for Creative Quarantine | Main | Meet Trauma-informed Expressive Arts Educator Sara M Gant »

May 16, 2020

#Journal Week 2 Review

By Michelle Harrell

What is just me or was this a difficult week? Museums are grappling with decisions about summer camps and reopening as museum educators are laid off in disproportionate numbers. Schools and universities are exploring remote learning and alternating student schedules to continue education while social distancing. There have been infinite discussions about how school closures amplify inequities as we plan for the fall. I’ve been overwhelmed by what’s out of my control that I don’t know where to begin.

How do we help children cope with overwhelming feelings? We ask them to name their feelings. Perhaps we need to do this for our own self care. Write it down, scribble what can’t be captured in words, and collage the fodder we are trying to process. Acknowledge feelings as valid: frustrations, despair, loneliness, and even the guilt-tinged enjoyment of working from home. 

Let’s look back at my last few posts in this series and how art educators are responding to this week’s #JournalCare prompts to name their feelings and process their worlds. Then, we’ll get a sneak peek of what’s ahead for next week. 

In the last two weeks of this blog series, we’ve met two art educators, Holly Bess Kincaid and EJ Gibbons, who found ways to engage their students remotely through #ArtEdPortraits and COVID-19 Altered Books. I shared my biggest tip for self care during quarantine (SPOILER ALERT: lower your expectations).

Week two of #JournalCare included a series of prompts to tap into our subconsciousness:  Scribble/ Imagery, Time Capsule, Student Reflections/ Child Within, Energy Flow, Inside Outside Self. We expressed what’s inside ourselves as well as what’s happening around us. Educators collaged, wrote, and drew about their New Favorites and their Perspective of what is bringing you peace and joy. The week also included diving into The News based on reporting, understanding, or experience through media sources.

Here are a few recent posts art educators (including myself) posted to acknowledge our feelings and process our experiences through visual journaling.






Gibbons NewsER Gibbons


Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 8.04.04 PMSara Gant


Aker Helpers

Today’s #JournalCare prompt by Jodi Aker is the Helpers. As Mr. Rodgers is known for saying, seek out the good. There are a lot of good things happening in our field. I’m blown away by art educators (like Leslie Grace in Philadelphia) who are raising funds through Donors Choose to help their students through art kits. I’m moved by how museum educators have rallied around the Museum Workers Relief Fund to support our colleagues in the field. Looking around at the helpers in our field, I realize just how much is in my control.

In the #JournalCare 30 day challenge, my co-leaders have shared prompts given their students to cope with what they are experiencing during COVID-19 quarantine. In the next week, we’ll hear from two of the art educators co-leading this challenge who also have backgrounds in art therapy and trauma-informed expressive arts education. In the next week’s prompts for the #JournalCare challenge, we’ll reflect on what we’ve learned, what we miss, and who we are remembering. We invite you to join the community of art educators responding to these prompts as part of their mindful practice of self care. Learn more about prompts at



The comments to this entry are closed.