Tag Archives: teaching overseas

Saddle up


Thanks, Jane! 🙂

Reining it in.

My profile has been active for two weeks in preparation for this coming hiring season. In that time, two different schools have contacted me, making some inquiries about next school year, which is twelve months away! The 2017 international hiring season has already started. This is really different for American teachers who don’t start looking for teaching positions until late spring of the teaching year they are interested in. The international hiring season can last through summer, but it starts early.

Locating and scanning required paperwork will take some time, but once you have it, you won’t have to go through this process ever again if you maintain an organized computer desktop. There are specific documents that you will need to have on hand no matter which recruitment agency you decide to go with. Some documents may take some time to track down, so it is best to start now.

Organizing Your Desktop:

I have listed below the documents you will need for your recruiting agency profile. These documents will be saved in either pdf or jpg formats. Be very organized as you set up files on your computer desktop. You will find that the process of finding an overseas teaching position can quickly get out of control if you are not diligent about being organized. You will soon be communicating with schools all over planet Earth. Set up a folder titled “2017 International Jobs” and inside this folder, set up a folder called “Recommendations and Scans “. Put all documents and scans, shown below, inside this folder.

Required and Scanned Paperwork:
(200-300 dpi on all scans)
• 3-5 Recommendation Letters from current/former school administrators (on school letterhead, saved as a pdf file)
• 3 Recommendation Letters from current/former student parents (saved as pdf file)
• Criminal Background Check
• Birth Certificate
• Certificate to Teach
• Passport
• University Degree
• Official Copy of University Transcript – you will also need to have some of these in hardcopy form, unopened, to give to your new school, so order plenty when you contact your university.
• Training certificates, i.e. PYP/MYP/IB Level Certificates
• Philosophy of Education (Word document saved as pdf file)
• Nice, smiling, front facing headshot of YOU. Plain background. Black and White. This will be used for your resume.

Filling out the Recruitment Agency Application/Profile:

When you have all these documents collected and scanned, and after you’ve paid your fee, you are ready to proceed in filling out the Profile section of your recruitment agency’s website. Your recruitment agency will notify you if something is missing and when the Profile is ready to go live for schools to see! I was able to “click” a button on my Search Associates Profile that allows me to receive daily job listings. As new schools post their openings, I am automatically sent a daily email. You can choose to receive all the daily listings, or only the ones for your subject area. Although it is really interesting to receive daily emails about ALL the teaching opportunities, it quickly becomes “too much” and I have opted to simply get the Art openings. Even so, by December and January, there are so many opportunities to teach it will blow your mind! —And that is only with Search Associates!

When you are required to type lengthy answers, please copy/paste what you wrote into an empty Word document and save it into another folder titled, “My Answers”. You will be able to utilize some of this material in other applications in the future. By saving it, you won’t have to start from scratch every time.

Next week I will be giving you tips on setting up your resume and cover letter. I want to stress again the importance of starting this process early and staying organized. Can you quickly find what you need to access when you are in the middle of a Skype interview at 3:00 am?

Which agency have you decided to go with? How did you make your decision?

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Baby Steps


Photo courtesy of Amanda Domingos

Choosing a recruiting agency.

Making the decision to leave your country, your family and friends is actually a giant step. When I left the USA in 2013, I didn’t personally know anyone who had ever done that. I spent over five years researching how to get a job teaching overseas.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to tell you the steps required to find an international teaching position. Each week I will post steps for you to do. If you follow along with me, you can be fully ready to interview this winter. I’m going to show you, step-by-step, what you need to do to make this happen. I’m also going to offer a detailed workbook, showcasing all of my personally designed documents that will help you with Skype interviews, prepare you for an international job fair, prepare you for an international classroom and show you how/what to pack when you move overseas.

In order to consider this possibility for next year, you must start now! The international hiring season starts today, September 1, 2016 for the following year! However, the hiring won’t swing into full throttle until January 2017. Most of the international recruiting fairs start in January and they will roll around planet Earth, scooping up teachers at each stop. There’s a lot to do…many steps, but you can do it, and I can help you.

Deciding on an International Recruiting Agency

The directions I am giving you target current teachers, or administrators, who have taught at least two years or soon-to-be education degree graduates. When selecting a recruiting agency, you may decide to use more than one. Some are free; some are not. Some are more widely used around the world than others. Some represent more kinds of international schools than others. Some are better for seasoned candidates, others are better for new educators. To begin, let’s review.

In April and May of 2012 I wrote three articles about recruiting agencies that you should read before we continue. Please take time to do this:

There are other recruiting firms, but these are the Big 3. Read these articles and then read this article posted by The Wall Street Journal and authored by Ginanne Brownell Mitic on September 30, 2015. How Was Your Child’s International Teacher Hired? 

There are some basic differences in these three recruiting companies, but after researching on your own, you should choose at least one of them. In 2012, I chose UNI and Search Associates. Both delivered everything they said they would and I was pleased with my choices. This year I am choosing Search Associates. While teaching in Istanbul, I discovered that many of my international colleagues were also represented by Search Associates. Because this is the agency I know the best, I am biased, but there are many candidates who have had equally good experiences with UNI and ISS.

After reading my above mentioned articles, I now want to mention that a few things need to be updated:

UNI: University of Northern Iowa Overseas Placement Service For Educators

Although it also serves seasoned teachers, UNI is widely known to cater to new international educators, even new university graduates. This is your best bet if you are a soon-to-be education degreed teacher who has never taught full-time in the classroom. After checking their website, I was surprised to learn their new registration fee is only $50.00. In 2012 it was $150.00! This fee allows you entry into their employment database and an open invitation to their annual recruiting fair, being held February 3-5, 2017, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UNI works with over 120 American international schools. I didn’t realize that UNI only works with American international schools, so for those of you who prefer to teach using the British or International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, this fair may not suit you.

ISS: International Schools Services

ISS has a new, updated website that provides user-friendly maneuverability. Their registration fee is $195, opposed to $185 in 2012. This fee validates you for two years or until you obtain a teaching position in any international school, whichever comes first. ISS works with 300 schools in more than 150 countries worldwide but they do require their candidates to have a minimum of 2 years full-time classroom teaching experience. Their recruiting fairs are being held December 4-6, 2016 in Atlanta, GA; January 5-8, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand; and February 9-12 in San Francisco, CA. Additionally, ISS has developed a new event called ISS iFair® The iFair® is a recruiting fair that happens online on a particular date. International school personnel and teacher candidates will be online at the same time and interviews will be provided through a virtual booth which candidates will enter when the event is live. The ISS iFair® dates are November 19, 2016; March 22, 2017 and May 17, 2017. The iFair® may be a good alternative if you don’t have funds to travel to a traditional recruitment fair.

SA: Search Associates 

Search Associates is the largest company of the three. It works with more than 600 international schools in over 180 countries around the world. The registration fee is $225.00, opposed to $200.00 in 2012, but validates you for three hiring seasons or until you obtain a teaching position in any international school, whichever comes first. Search Associates also has the most recruiting fairs around the world, but again they do require their candidates to have a minimum of 2 years full-time classroom teaching experience. Beginning on December 9-11, 2016, SA will be in Toronto, Canada. Beginning in 2017, SA will hold fairs in Melbourne, Australia – January 3-6; in Bangkok, Thailand – January 8-11; in London, England – January 13-16; in Hong Kong, China – January 20-22; in Cambridge (Boston), MA – January 26-29; in San Francisco, CA – February 10-13; in Dubai, UAE – February 23-25; back to Bangkok, Thailand – March 9-12, and finally back to London, England – April 21-23.

Other less expensive recruiting agencies are:

Dave’s ESL Café – Free
TIE Online – $39 USD/Annually
JoyJobs –  $40 USD/Annually
TIC Recruitment – Free
Schrole – 75 AUD/Annually

These companies are also widely used but have not been around as long and may not provide the personal attention that UNI, ISS and SA provide. As I understand it, they also do not offer a recruiting fair. For this reason they may not be a good choice for teachers new to international teaching. Although I personally do not have experience with these agencies, I do keep my eye open to positions listed on their website. Some schools that cannot afford to pay membership fees may opt to use these services. Additionally, you may find schools listed here that do not require a minimum of two years of full-time teaching experience.

So have a look around. This will take some time. Once you decide which agency is best for you, you can pay your fee and start filling out their paperwork. My next post will be about what documents you need to have on hand to complete their online paperwork and what to expect from their questions.

Get busy. You’ll be glad you did. Where would you like to go?

If you haven’t done so already, PLEASE follow my blog by clicking on the “Follow” button located by scrolling down to the bottom of the page. By doing this, you will be notified by email when I post a new article.

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Let’s Get This Party Started

PartyStartedDo it.

Last week, I shared my new re-entry framework: Rest and Re-Invent. After months of resting, I’ve decided to re-invent in two directions. 1) I’m updating my archived file with Search AssociatesI’m going to move forward in securing a new international job post for next year. 2) I’ve decided to develop a published workbook and provide coaching services for teachers who want personal guidance in finding an international teaching position. Without further ado, let’s get this party started.

Since 2013, I have received emails and comments from strangers telling me they implemented the ideas I gave them through my articles which then resulted in them finding an international teaching position. Moving forward, I want to customize this and share my personal worksheets and notes that I designed for myself in finding international employment. I will soon be announcing when these materials are ready, but I’m hoping to offer this service in time for this year’s fast approaching international hiring season. In the comments section, please let me know if this would interest you, or any teacher you know.

If you are a teacher, or a soon-to-be BS in Education graduate, opportunities exist that will move your career in a positive direction and take you on adventures that you never thought possible. You will be able to pay off student debt or save a large portion of your salary. You will gain an education that no book can teach as you work along foreign colleagues and teach the children of the world in various locations too many to list! If you possess a love of learning, have an adventuresome spirit, a thirst to travel and a desire to participate in intentional community, international teaching is for you.

Please look forward to another post this week about taking your first steps in the international teaching field of education.

Where would you like to teach?

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My New State (of mind), Part 2


Photo credit: Briget Moore Murphy


Eleven months ago I began the journey of repatriation and I’m here to tell you that I’ve taken a beating. When I started this blog in 2012, I tried to uncover everything I could about how to get an overseas teaching job. What I never researched, and never even thought about, were the effects of reverse culture shock – if and when I’d ever return to the USA.

During my first months in Istanbul, Turkey, when culture shock was overwhelming at times, I reached out to administrators, colleagues and friends who were experiencing the same thing. Most of us had moved there from different countries and were not native to Turkey. We supported each other and worked through all the emotional changes we were experiencing. What I never prepared myself for was the hardship of coming back to your home country, alone, with no one who understood or could give emotional support.

After returning to the USA and living out of WalMart gray containers in the homes of friends and family for nine months, I felt like a tumbling tumbleweed. Even so, I don’t know how to ever repay the generosity of these people who lovingly opened their homes to me while I tried to sort out my life and make new decisions. After the wedding of my only daughter in early January, I drove back to my home state of Texas, crying all the way across California, Arizona and New Mexico. I felt like I’d lost all my identities: being a mother, being a teacher, being an artist and being a traveler.

I’ve now been in Texas for eight months. My brother and his wife graciously offered me a job in their company and I rented a small apartment. I count my blessings every day as I get to be alone with my thoughts and my things. My thoughts have been tangled this year, but two weeks ago I finished a 6-week course by Dr. Cate Brubaker called The Re-Entry Relaunch Roadmap. I would highly recommend this course to anyone struggling with repatriation. It helped me process all the changes I’ve been through and it gave me a community of people who understand me. One key exercise was to reframe my re-entry experience in a few words. The statement I came up with explains where I’m at in my new state of mind: Rest and Re-Invent.

One reader of my blog recently wrote me and asked if I were going to write again; she hoped so. With her in mind, I’m looking forward to sharing some new ideas in the weeks ahead.

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Looking forward

tulipsAfter the rain.

Spring arrived in 48 hours. After months of grey skies, rain, sleet, snow, hail and wind, the sun came out and the tulips bloomed last weekend. Texas skies take the cake for showcasing the wide expanse but Istanbul skies win the prize for the showcasing the color blue.

I made the decision to leave my international teaching post and return to the States at the end of this 2015 school year. At this point, I’m unsure if this move will be permanent or if I’ll cast my net again next spring. Since making my decision to leave, some days have been melancholy; others joyful. School days in the spring are hectic, but when I pause and reflect, I am grateful for these months and years of living and serving here. My life will never be the same. Istanbul, I love you.

When I think about all I’ve seen and experienced I become fatigued. Not only have I traveled to eleven countries over the past two years, I’ve made countless friends from all corners of the earth. I’ve learned a great deal on how to be a global citizen and nothing could make me more proud.

The first time I documented leaving a job without the certainty of a new job (The Net Will Appear) I was full of anxiety. This time I’m as cool as a cucumber. I’ve learned so much since I started writing this blog in 2012. Several readers got in touch with me this winter and asked for advice during the recent international hiring season job fairs. I gave honest answers to their questions and now I’ve received exciting letters from them explaining that they attended the fairs and have been offered international jobs! Congratulations! International teachers need each other. It’s a hard job and the luxury of having your family and best friends available for advice is gone. We rely on one another for encouragement and love.

I recently read a book by Anna Badhken and became interested in her new book, Walking With Able. Her voice perfectly captures my feelings about the privilege I’ve felt about living in Turkey:

 To enter such a culture. Not an imperiled life nor a life enchanted but an altogether different method to life’s meaning, a divergent sense of the world. To tap into a slower knowledge that could come only from taking a very, very long walk with a people who have been walking always. To join a walk that spans seasons, years, a history; to synchronize my own pace with a meter fine-tuned over millennia.

I’m counting my blessings and looking ahead to my new future.

*NOTE: The ad below is placed on my blog by WordPress. I do not have any opinion or association with the ad. Please do not “click” it. Thank you.

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Let’s Make a Deal

783px-Lets_make_a_deal_weekly_primetimeThree doors.

In the 1970’s, when I was a teenager in southern Missouri, I remember a favorite TV show called Let’s Make a Deal. The host, Monty Hall, would wander through the audience and select random people to trade something in that they wore, or brought to the show, for a chance to win a much nicer prize. The contestant would continue to trade until a great prize was secured behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. These lavish prizes might be a kitchen appliance, a new car or a dream vacation. But there was also the possibility of trading and getting a Zonk! A Zonk was an undesirable prize such as fake money or silly, low value items. To gain Monty’s attention, hopeful contestants would wear terrific costumes and cheer and shout in hopes of being selected to play the game.

This remembered scenario reminds me of my own situation.

An international teacher begins searching for jobs in late autumn for the following year. Job recruitment fairs start in December and January and for many teachers, their teaching career is a series of two or three year posts in a variety of countries. Faculty members and administrators move around as much as the students and their families do. The teacher starts playing Let’s Make a Deal as the hopeful contestant, dressing up cover letters and resumes in ways to gain attention.

That’s where I find myself now. As an international teacher, teaching inquiry methods, I’m curious myself what lies ahead behind the three doors. I’ve been making lists: What are the positives and what are the negatives? In other words, what would I like to trade in? Since the contract began, what could I live without? What would I want to keep? What has worked, what has not? What have I learned? What is now important to me that I was unaware of initially? Once the process has commenced, and the recruiting company has been paid, a teacher gain access to other schools that daily post their needs for the following year. “Which door will I pick? What if the door I pick turns out to be a Zonk? But what if it is a better prize?”

I’ve been able to fulfill my heart’s desire by teaching in an international school in one of the great cities of the world. I traded in an American lifestyle that I had become complacent with and I’ll never regret it. I’m now thinking about the trade again and am peeking behind the doors to see the prizes. Door #1’s prize is to stay put. Continue to build an art program for over 50 nationalities of students that I have developed a great love for. The prize behind Door #2 is the likely possibility of moving to a new country and teaching at a new school, getting to meet interesting new people and gain an even deeper understanding of the world and myself. But Door #3 holds quite a surprise!

I have a daughter who is now a grown woman. Last weekend, a man who loves her deeply asked her a simple question, “Will you marry me?” When she responded, “Yes,” I unexpectedly got homesick to be with my girl. Door #3 holds the prize of moving home, to help plan a wedding.

As I told a friend today, my problem is that I have too many options, and what a gift this is. There are so many who don’t have any options.

What are your prizes? What are you willing to trade this Thanksgiving week?

*NOTE: The ad below is placed on my blog by WordPress. I do not have any opinion or association with the ad. Please do not “click” it. Thank you.

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Beauty is Embarrassing

Anita Horton "Manicured"Thank goodness this week was Spring Break. After accepting a contract to teach in Istanbul, Turkey last week, and then selling my home that same evening, I’ve been involved in many activities. Understandably, the Ministry of Turkey requires a police clearance, so I began the week at the downtown Dallas jail to get fingerprinted. Once behind the locked doors, the police officers began the procedure and I reacted enthusiastically, asking many questions and complimenting their efficiency and expertise. The officers were surprised by my excitement. They explained that most people they fingerprint react quite differently to their procedures!

By mid-week I was sending scanned documents to Turkey, and mailing documents via DHL. Then my house was inspected as part of the selling process, and I had to squeeze in a physical examination to receive a medical clearance from my doctor. Thursday was the first day of the NAEA (National Art Educators Association) Conference  and, as I reported in my article It’s All Good, I was selected to present at a session on Thursday morning. My presentation Blogging in the Art Classroom was received well and the rest of the weekend I was free to enjoy other presentations, listen to lectures and play with new art products  in the huge Exhibit Hall.

I loved being with my two dear friends and colleagues and it was fun running into other art friends throughout the conference center. For the most part, we all had different interests and went our separate ways to the daily discussion groups and sessions, but many of us attended the last session Friday night to watch the film, Beauty is Embarrassing, which features the life and work of Wayne White. Known to many as the Emmy winning, co-creator of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse fame, he was also the illustrator/designer for award winning music videos for both Peter Gabriel and the Smashing Pumpkins. After viewing this autobiographical film, Mr. White made a surprise appearance and talked openly and intimately to the audience. He was immediately likeable and shared about his enormously “lucky” life, as he called it. He is represented by the Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas and on this website, you can watch several interviews, which I encourage you to do as his dry-wit and sarcasm, evidenced through his Word Paintings, will leave you laughing and pondering deeper interpretations to life.

Wayne grew up as a country boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee and many of his high school and college antics reminded me of growing up in Ozark, Missouri. He recounted one story in which his high school art teacher had collected a sampling of his Salvadore Dali’ish drawings and given them to his principal. Wayne was excited about this, thinking that he might receive some sort of honor. Instead, he was invited into the principal’s office and was told, “Those don’t look like the drawings of a red-blooded American boy. I’ve noticed you’re not involved in the football or basketball teams…I’m gonna keep an eye on you, boy.” Although he loves his family and the beautiful countryside of Tennessee, he was a rebel and couldn’t wait to get out and explore the world. To Wayne, humor is a sacred thing; a great communicator. He feels it is a way to tell the truth in a way everyone understands. He encourages everyone by saying, “Do what you love. It’s gonna lead where you want to go. Never give up. Invent yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Calving (the 2nd Definition)

AndreasTilleGlacierBreaking off.

I follow Christopher Jobson’s Colossal blog on Twitter. Colossal showcases beautiful and ingenuous handmade artworks that always cause my imagination to go into overdrive. His suggestions for visual candy never lead me astray, although when I go to his links, I can often disappear into the web for more time than I care to admit. One of his tweets this week led me to the winner of the “Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary, 2012,” Chasing Ice. As I watched the film trailer, both the verbal and written words reminded me of my own situation of the past week: “The story of a visionary,” “The landscape just changed before our eyes,” “All that obsession means nothing if it doesn’t work,”  “This is the memory of a landscape, because that landscape is gone,” and “I do not want to go any lower than this.”

As I suspected might happen after the letting go of last week, this week my calving started and the earth started shaking under my feet.

Within hours of my blog post last week, three additional friends extended an invitation to move in with them if my house sold. (2 other colleagues had already invited me.) There are amazing people inhabiting the earth.

My daughter got invited to her first career interview and we talked about how we are both in the same boat of applying and interviewing for jobs.

Within the first 48 hours of my house being listed on MLS, I had 6 showings. As of this morning, I’ve had 15, which is a lot for a downtrodden economic market. Yesterday I wasn’t able to be at my house all day because of so many showings!

Last Monday morning, I sent an email to my colleagues explaining my resignation and spent that day talking to each class about my decision to resign and why. I told my students that I was interested in other cultures and was curious about how other people lived their lives. I wanted to teach art to other children and discover how they are different and how they are the similar with kids here in the USA. I then showed them this video. After watching it, they applauded and cheered.

On Tuesday, I was surprised by how much weight I’d been carrying around trying to be secretive about the possibility of my leaving. Although my administrators had known about this for some time, I had been holding this dream of mine hostage in my heart for fear if the word got out too soon my students would be hurt and would not put their trust in me. I wanted to wait to tell them I was leaving until the time came that they understood that I loved them and would never forget them.

On Thursday, two amazing things happened.

For some time I haven’t been sleeping well because of having to set my alarm to get up early to Skype interview or because of wanting to check email that I may have received from people around the world who are up working while I’m asleep. At 4:00 a.m. I woke, checked my email and found I had one from a Principal in Istanbul with whom I’d interviewed with last week. I could tell that it sounded promising. My heart was so bruised, however, that I didn’t consider it carefully and fell back to sleep. When I woke to get ready for work, I checked my email again and had a note from the Head of that school offering me a position! After my search of many months, I’m thrilled to report that it appears I’ll be going to Istanbul to teach PYP art at an International Baccalaureate school! Although contracts aren’t yet signed, they will be in the mail this week. Istanbul was on the very top of my list of places to go! I traveled there in 2011 and hopelessly fell in love with Turkey. I couldn’t be more pleased. But the day wasn’t over.

I met some friends after work that I hadn’t seen in many months. We shared stories and they were thrilled at my exciting news! I got back at my home at 9:00 p.m. and before I even took my jacket off, I had a text message from my realtor telling me I had an offer on my house!!! Within an hour, I had sold my house. I told him that I was tempted to stay up all night to see what else might happen! What an exciting day!

Since then, my life has been full of paperwork. But I’m not complaining! My dream is coming true! From my heart I want to thank you, my readers, for pulling for me, praying for me, sending positive vibes my way. In closing, I want to challenge you to let go and reach for your dreams. Anything is possible.

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American Girl In A Box

American GirlLet me out.

I’ve methodically worked my way through my house selling clothes, furniture and household possessions. This move I’m planning on making didn’t come to me overnight. I’ve been plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming for a good 4 years. It’s all I’ve talked about to those closest to me and I was sure that my friends had become sick of me droning on about my plans as the years ticked by. I never would have imagined so much emotion displayed at my “All-Things-Art Sale”.

I saved the hardest for last: getting rid of my artwork. I wrote an Evite to everyone I knew who had known me as an artist over the years. If people loved my art and would use it or display it, I would simply ask for a kind donation to help me on my way. I slashed my prices, for it was more important for me to find good homes for my creations than it was for me to make a lot of money. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to sell quite a bit of my artwork, but I’ve kept the unsold pieces in careful storage. Like a litter of kittens, these pieces brought me joy and came with so many memories, but I had to find them new homes.

All Things Art SaleThroughout the day, dear friends wandered in and out of my home looking at a retrospective of 30 years of artwork displayed. Some were uncomfortable and one friend told me that it made her feel like I was dead and she was going through my belongings at an estate sale. Many of my guests have watched me grow through different series and concepts in my artwork and to see it laid out all together was, in a way, a historic type of event. I was questioned about how I could let it all go and I explained that for years and years, I had been interested in getting my name recognized in the Dallas art scene. I worked at meeting gallery owners, art collectors and other artists. I’ve spent years and years doing this dance, in hopes of getting a gallery show that could then be added to my resume. I wanted to be respected and associated as a Dallas artist, and I’ve been somewhat successful. I listened to several friends verbally process their interpretation of what I was doing. With tears in her eyes, one friend said, “I feel like I am robbing you.” I responded, “You’re not robbing me – you’re freeing me!” It’s been a great ride, and I’m so grateful for all the experiences, but this Dallas based, American Girl is about to crawl out of her box.

I recently read an article in the New York Times called, “You Won’t Be The Person You Expect To Be” . It is a fascinating article, by John Tierney, about how our personalities and tastes change over the years. The phenomenon, called “end of history illusion,” occurs when people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” When we humans look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same.” Of course we don’t. “Middle-aged people often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.” Even as recent as 6 years ago I would have never imagined that I would be selling everything I own to travel the world and work overseas.

Life is short. What box do you want to crawl out of?

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She Blinded Me With Science

frogThe marriage of art and science.

For years I’ve had a running joke with one of my middle school colleagues. Each year his science students learn about bridges and their studies culminate with The Bridge Project. Each student selects a bridge based on the kind they believe will be the strongest. All bridges are carefully made from toothpicks and hot glue and ultimately will be tested for strength by attaching weights to it until it breaks. It’s a contest to see which bridge will hold up the most weight. These tiny bridges are beautiful and I always say, “This isn’t science, this is art,” which lovingly annoys my colleague, but to me, the delicate wooden constructions can be enjoyed for their form alone. I have my daughter’s hanging on my wall as sculptural art.

I tell my students that artists and scientists are alike in many ways. They both observe the world closely and they both ask the question, “I wonder what would happen if . . .” Many well-known artists have a background in science and many have studied to be doctors. During the Italian Renaissance, science, math and art all came together as never before in history. Back then, if you were a scientist, you were also a mathematician and artist. The talents and skills of all three vocations intertwined. It was during the Renaissance that human corpses were dissected for educational purposes, and thus, muscles, tendons and bones were seen and understood which allowed for greater accuracy when drawing, or sculpting, the realistic, figurative style. Perspective was discovered and allowed a two-dimensional picture plane to trick the eye in believing that the space on the canvas surface was deep. Also, the great cathedral domes of Europe were architecturally rendered, engineered, built, and finally adorned with great works of art on their surfaces.

Perot Museum of Nature and ScienceThis past week a state of the art, $185 million science museum was unveiled in downtown Dallas. On opening day, my friends and I made use of the extended closing time of midnight, when we arrived to explore the Perot Museum of Nature and Science after attending several local gallery openings. We were astounded! This place is out-of-this-world, literally, in fact, when standing in the theater-like exhibit Journey Through the Solar System watching meteors and planets zoom across overhead! Click here to see  what the New York Times’ author, Edward Rothstein, said about it. The building itself is stupendous! Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis, went all out in designing a contemporary building that makes me refrain from being mad at my city for not having a Frank Gehry building downtown.

I’ve never been in a more engaging, interactive museum. I turned into a kid again sensing the awe and wonder of the created universe! Immediately we took the exterior, glass escalator to the top floor and ran through the exhibits, hitting every floor. We only had an hour and a half. We didn’t even scrape the surface of all there is to do but, given the time we had, here are a few of my favorites:

Build a Bird: These interactive stations are dotted throughout the “bird floor”. You choose your body type, wings, color, diet, and tweet. At the end, you get to see the bird you created and watch it in a video. My bird ended up being a very overweight herbivore, tropically colorful and sung a beautiful song.

Be a Bird: This was amazing. After correctly positioning your body in front of a wall-sized screen, a film comes up that looks like an aerial view of Colorado with snow-topped mountains, evergreen forests and blue lakes. Then an eagle shows up and you’re off! You have to bend, turn and swing your arms to “fly” the bird, all while wearing 3D glasses! Sadly, most of my time was spent crashing into the trees!

Robotic Arm: Put a drop of water on your forearm and place it in a sensor device, pump a fist and watch the robotic arm move next to you. Weird and amazing!

Heat Sensor WallHeat Sensor Wall: After walking onto a platform, the wall in front of you senses the temperature of your body and shows it on the screen in front of you in the form of a beautiful, 1960’s psychedelic wall painting! You could dance across the platform and watch the colors change!

Enormous Geode: In the Gem and Mineral Hall, (which we literally ran through and I’m dying to go back!), there was a display case with the largest boulder that you can imagine. As you turned the large crank wheel, the boulder starts opening. The light comes on and the geode is full of sparkling amethyst stones! Amazing! The colors of the gems and minerals were lit in such a way that the twinkles and sparkles entranced me and I felt a bit dizzy – like entering the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz!

Dinosaur HallDinosaurs: This floor dynamically provokes awe, not only through the life size skeletons of enormous dinos that wandered around in Texas but also through a quiet introspection upon, again, realizing all the life forms that have come before us.

Globe Projection: This may have been my favorite. Using your hand to twirl the circular table, you could see, through a projected image on a globe-like sphere in the center, how the land masses broke up to become the continents. My friend and I were mesmerized watching India break free from the south of Africa and go crashing into where it now sits, causing the Himalayan Mountains to be born.

The new Perot Museum is definitely poetry in motion. The spheres were definitely in commotion and the elements in harmony. We were hit with technology and imagination. Go exploring this week, museum or not.



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This new page of my blog highlights some of my students’ artwork, 5th-12th grade.

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