Supporting One Another and Our Students: Coalition Equips Art Teachers with ED&I Power Tools
They’re maximum voltage, fully charged, and laser precise, and they're free to use to help improve the lives of art learners in New Mexico. That’s how Christy Martinez and Steve Heil felt about the ideas encountered at the March 9, 2021 Zoom meeting of a multi-state coalition to build relationships and share strategies, disrupting the inequitable status quo. The coalition meeting was organized by NAEA Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Commissioner, Anna Pilhoefer, and attended by NAEA President, James Rolling Jr, Chief Learning Officer, Dennis Inhulsen, and art educators from California, New Mexico, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland. Christy and Steve are two of the five members currently serving on the new NMAEA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and members from around the state are invited to join, with monthly work sessions to help transform New Mexico art education for social justice. It’s a big remodeling job, and everyone can help. Our Top Four Power Tools from the Coalition to use Our ED&I Construction Project 1. Listen Focus on listening in order to build relationships with friends who are marginalized by race, culture, gender, language, and sexuality. Some members of the coalition reported hosting a panel discussion highlighting the voices of art educators who are Black, Brown, and People of Color (BIPoC), and hosting difficult conversations about differences in opportunity and prevailing injustices. This approach can help everyone become aware of the obstacles, biases, and inequities our art educator colleagues face daily. 2. Reflect Look inward. The coalition emphasized for us the importance of examining ourselves and our own association. Do we see homogeneity or diversity, inclusion or exclusion, and equality or equity? 3. Learn Find out about the National Association’s ED&I Task Force Recommendations and the new NAEA revisioning and goals. The coalition reported organizing a book study for their members to develop anti-racism skills and developing a sequence of workshops in a course about critical and social justice theory. This summer the NAEA leadership conferences will start a dialogue with all regions and divisions to develop each state’s unique ED&I approach. Our tool box will be loaded with new approaches if we involve NAEA ED&I consultants like 2019 Task Force member and art educator Libya Doman, of the Virginia Art Education Association . 4. Promote Some members of the coalition talked about broadcasting their ED&I efforts to be inviting and inclusive, and of hosting resources teachers can use to educate for social justice in their own institutions and among their students. Let’s Build! We will work to build strong relationships between members, teachers and students so that all people have the opportunity to grow and achieve, and work together as a community of artists. We want to continue to evaluate and keep ED&I practices at the front and center of educational and community choices to promote all diversities, thoughts, backgrounds of the individuals in our community. And we hope to embed social emotional learning (SEL) throughout art education with ED&I practices at the forefront to support students from all backgrounds and life walks. If you share these art educators’ passion for improving the lives of all of our students while learning and growing both professionally and personally, please get in touch!