High Five for Phillips Collection Professional Development

A Prince George’s County, MD, art teacher shares her experience at Phillips professional development events for PK-12 educators.

If you are a PK-12 educator, consider looking into workshops and activities offered by The Phillips Collection, if you haven’t already done so, and sign up!

In early fall, I went to a Back-to-School Educator’s Night at the Phillips. It was a fun evening, and my favorite activity was a poetry slam led by Gayle Danley. Participants sat in one of the galleries. The artist read some of her amazing slam poems, and one of her former students stood up and presented an equally amazing poem. Then participants selected one of the artworks from the gallery, created a slam poem based on it, and then read them aloud. I have always enjoyed the professional development opportunities offered at the Phillips and this annual evening event just confirmed this!

Poetry slam led by Gayle Danley in the galleries. Photo: AK Blythe

About a week after participating in the educator’s night event, I received about an online professional development (PD) via Zoom. The sessions involved Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mindfulness activities connected to the exhibition African Modernism in America, 1947-67. The goal was to help teachers rejuvenate and energize their teaching practice to prevent or resolve “teacher burn-out,” but also importantly included art-connected mindfulness/SEL strategies to use with students in the classroom. One of my goals this year is to fine tune relevant connections to SEL for students during my art classes, so I immediately signed up.

Art Cards and materials I received before the PD session.

I started this PD feeling quite appreciated. The 4-session/15-hour free PD over 5 weeks was offered whether taking it for PD credits or auditing. I audited. In advance of the PD, we were sent free art materials to use during the sessions. On day one of the course I also learned that I would be receiving a $50 Amazon card to use for my classroom upon completion of the sessions.

How would I describe this course? Each session in this PD involved teacher mindfulness and SEL connected activities to use for both self and in the classroom. One example: we were given engaging prompts and used art supplies to journal (whether via words, drawing, or collage) in books that were provided to us. The prompts were in response to an artwork that was part of the African Modernism exhibition. Even a yoga/art session made interesting connections to yet another artwork from the exhibition. Another particularly useful item for the classroom was a box of special Art Cards (which include 52 images from the collection) also provided to us. These cards included conversation starter prompts as well as activity prompts that made for engaging conversations during the workshop and certainly would do the same for classroom lessons.

Example of mindfulness activity related to African Modernism in America, 1947-67

Page from book journal

I often feel exhausted when I get home from work and the PD sessions are often after work. The first time I signed up, I thought twice about enrolling. But I was glad I did, and this current series only strengthened my desire to enroll in more programs. Event after a long day at work, I felt energized at 7:30 pm after each of the PD sessions ended. The Phillips Collection has new workshop offerings nearly every month for educators so check out their website or contact the Phillips Collection Education Department!