So needless to say, when I got my first "creative" assignment this past week for my Philosophy of Art Education course, I jumped at the chance to take a break from formal lesson plans and writing reflection papers. The idea was to create a narrative piece of art incorporating a 3"x3" canvas provided to us, along with a brief explanation, describing how you feel your philosophy of teaching has developed, and explaining what you will bring to the classroom as an art educator.
I wrote my explanation first. In fact, I had written it weeks ago, in my own personal journal, not knowing how perfectly my own private reflections would fit in to a future assignment. The idea was that teaching has helped me find myself, and every milestone in my life along the way has had an influence on the way I teach. I took the metaphors I wrote about in my journal and brought them to life by creating a treasure map, using the canvas as the compass. To the left is a photograph of this map, made from up-cycled linen and thread with penned drawings of the key points of my life. Below is what I wrote, describing some of these events and how they have influenced my growing confidence in my future profession.
I thought I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to affect change in the world. I fell in love with art at a young age, and I wanted to inspire others the way I had been inspired by the role models in my life.
All of that is still true, but through my experiences - navigating the twisting roads of college, sailing the windy seas of internships and classroom observations - I have found unexpected truths to what it means to be a teacher. All of these roads and routes have brought me to an even deeper love of learning and a wider admiration for teaching. That’s not to say I haven’t hit potholes and speed bumps along the way, I certainly have, but each and every roadblock and detour has left me with another clue, another piece in the treasure map puzzle.
In teaching, I have found myself.
I am different when I teach. I am organized and clear and prepared. I have every detail nailed down before I start and if something goes wrong I am more flexible than I ever knew I could be. I adjust. I adapt.
I am loud. My voice is strong and clear and doesn’t waver. I know what to say and just how to say it. I can explain historical movements and color theory to children better than I’ve ever been able to explain even my own thoughts in writing or my own emotions to a therapist. In teaching art, I can find more concentrated confidence in myself than I’ve ever been able to find in making art.
I learn more in an hour of teaching than I do in semesters of lecture seminars and studio coursework.
I am comfortable. For once. I know where I am is where I am supposed to be and in that moment, nothing else seems to matter. I may not have my degree yet, but I have always been a teacher. I always will be. How lucky I am to have stumbled in to my passion so soon when so many other people will spend their lives searching.
When I teach, I have energy and enthusiasm and uncensored joy. I am meeting myself for the first time, and I like who I am. I hope some day my students will be able to find themselves in something the way I have found myself through them. Even if art isn’t their calling, even if they hate art with every ounce of their being, I want my passion to be clear to my students, and then I want to help them find theirs.
With each lesson plan and unit I get one step closer to the X-marks-the-spot, treasure chest that is my full potential. I may not know the final destination yet, or what jewels and gems await, but I am confident that my education has given me the best navigational tools to get me there.