Moving Forward in 2019 for Museum Education

Added to Medium, December 20, 2018

This past year has flown by so quickly and a lot has happened in both my career and in the museum field. For instance, I have written the 100th blog post, and I am thankful for everyone who has read and commented on the blog. With the rest of the Education Committee at the Three Village Historical Society, I completed the revamp of the docent manual and we are preparing for a docents’ appreciation luncheon to thank the docents and go over the new manual. Also, I completed an online course through the American Association for State and Local History on Museum Education and Outreach.

The course is part of the AASLH’s Small Museum Pro! Certificate program, a professional certificate program for history practitioners who work or would like to work, in small local museums. This course’s main theme is about how museum educators can facilitate visitors’ meaningful and memorable experiences in the informal environments of museums. During the eight weeks for the course, myself and other participants worked through the basics of museum education, how to implement programming, training staff, and partnering with the community for outreach. By the end of the course, we were able to:

describe the characteristics and learning needs of various museum audiences

summarize what we know about learning in museums

assess the strengths and weaknesses of interpretive techniques and program approaches

utilize a system for planning, operating, and evaluating museum educational programs

access resources to assist you in future development of effective learning experiences

Some of the topics that we went over for each week include Interpretation Strengths, Weaknesses, and Best Practices, Education Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation, Community Partners and Funding, Leading Staff and Volunteers, and Action Plan for Future Programming at your Museum. After completing the course, I felt that taking this course not only helped strengthen the skills I have as a museum educator but I also gained new techniques and advice on how to proceed with developing and implementing educational programs. This course has provided a number of opportunities to discuss with other class participants ideas based on our experiences and give each other advice.

The museum field has also made some progress and I hope we continue to make progress in the next year. Museum professionals discussed the importance of self-care for all museum professionals especially for museum educators. As we come to the end of the year, a number of museum professionals are continuing the discussion about self-care. For instance, on the Leadership Matters blog, Joan Baldwin wrote in her post “Museum Women: Take Care of Yourselves” on what female museum professionals should think about moving forward into the new year. Baldwin listed five things to think about which are

1. You need to take care of yourself. You, your family, and your friends will all benefit from a happier, healthier you.

2. Put your health first. Somehow women don’t. It’s something embedded in our DNA that says, I can do this. My temperature is only 101. I haven’t pick one: (thrown up, cried, coughed up a lung) for at least an hour. No you can’t. Stay home. Ask for help. Take care of yourself.

3. Give yourself some alone time. Even if it’s only a short walk in the middle of a work day, take time alone. Let your thoughts settle. Regroup.

4. My mother used to have a little note near her phone. This was the era of landlines so the phone never moved. The note said, “Say no.” I thought it was hysterical, but in retrospect, we all should have that note. It’s your internal monitor that says, I don’t have time, energy or the skillset to do that. (It also might say, I’m not going to enable you, you do it.) It’s a learned skill to say no nicely, and not to judge yourself for bowing out.

5. Make a tiny change. Promise yourself that in the coming year you will do something different that’s just for you. Don’t make it so grandiose that it feels impossible, make it doable. Try a new recipe once a month. Walk every day that it’s sunny. Read a poem before bed. Whatever floats your boat and is for you.

While these can be applied to all museum professionals, museum women especially need to think about this because according to reports listed in Baldwin’s post they are more likely to work harder and spend less time on taking care of themselves. There is also more discussion about low salaries and equity within the museum.

A number of museum associations are requiring museums who want to post available jobs to list salary information to create more equitable opportunities for job seekers in the museum field. Also, more people are talking about the consequences of giving museum workers low salaries as evident in Seema Rao’s post Giving Tuesdays and Low Salaries in Museums. I have also given my own thoughts about low salaries in the museum field in one of my previous posts reacting to Rao’s post. While having discussions about raising salaries and creating equitable workplaces is important, more action to make them a reality needs to continue to move the museum field forward and we should take more action each year.

Also, the American Alliance of Museums announced that last night the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The IMLS supports all types of museums in their work to educate students, preserve and digitize collections, and connect with their communities. Reauthorization of IMLS means that there is support for the agency’s programs and a renewed commitment to its funding. Advocacy for museums do not end as long as there is progress to be made in the museum field. As I think about the past year, my thoughts naturally turned to what I want to accomplish next year.

I hope to continue to develop my skills as a museum professional, and to gain more experience in the field to provide more influence on progress for museums. By progressing to a more managerial role, I would be able to effect change on a higher level. In addition to my professional life, I am looking forward to getting married this upcoming March and spending more time with family.

Happy Holidays to you all! Happy New Year!

Because next week is Christmas, I will not post a new blog post for that week but I will be back to share with you an updated list of books I want to read in 2019.

In the meantime, I would like to hear from you: What would you like to accomplish for the new year?

Resources:

https://leadershipmatters1213.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/museum-women-take-care-of-yourselves/


https://www.medium.com/@artlust/giving-tuesday-low-salaries-in-museums-b4080566c81b


https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2018/12/06/reaction-giving-tuesday-low-salaries-in-museums/

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