My first day at 2013 National Art Education Association Convention was all that I could have hoped it would be. I saw a few presentations; some good, some not so good. But mostly, I spent time talking with people in the hallways outside the conference rooms, in the hotel lobby, and out on the town. Late in the afternoon, an old friend and I visited a yarn shop. Later, I got to have a long-overdue and leisurely dinner with my mentor, and friend, Amy Brook Snider, followed by a lovely walk and talk with another old gal pal, and a very late night faculty meeting with my virtual colleagues from the University of Florida. Capped it off with some midnight laughs with my roommate.
Like I said, it was a busy and rewarding day. But most of what made it special wasn’t the presentations folks spent time preparing in advance. It was the spontaneous conversations that took place outside those meeting rooms. Some call these, the lobby sessions, and argue that they are the heart of the conference. I think I agree.
In the lobby, people talk about their big ideas, in passionate voices they don’t always display when they are up at a podium, running through a powerpoint presentations, performing their academic selves. In the lobby, conversations are not limited by the time left on the clock. In the lobby, you run into people you didn’t make plans to run into. (All this reminds me again of why I sort of agree with Marissa Mayer.)
Today, I have a lot more presentations bookmarked. I’m looking forward to getting some new insights and ideas on teaching for critical thinking, building community, and fostering creativity from art educators based on their work in museums, preschools, elementary and secondary classrooms, and higher education. But I’ll still look forward to my time in the lobby.