Why I Am a Teacher

I have always wanted to be an artist and a teacher, since I was a child. I wanted to be an artist because it is fun and I love it. I originally thought I wanted to become a teacher because so many of the women in my family were teachers and it seemed like a fun, worthwhile career that would keep me interested and plugged into learning my entire life. In the end I decided to become a teacher because of the example set by two particularly outstanding art teachers I had in high school.

When I was taking art classes in high school I noticed that there were, generally speaking, three different kinds of students in those classes: 1) students like me who loved art and making things, and who could not imagine school without art; 2) students who were looking for an ?easy? elective (even though creating quality art is rarely easy); and 3) students who had been kicked out of every other class in the school and had been told that art was their last stop before being expelled.

Because of the two exceptional art teachers I had during high school, I saw what a tremendous difference art classes and good teaching can make with students who have failed at everything else. Not only did most of the high risk students (category 3) who went through these classes succeed, they found something they loved to do, and a reason to stay in school. Those teachers made all the difference in the lives of those students. I often wonder what might have happened to them if they had ended up in classes with less concerned teachers.

Additionally, through my experiences teaching art I have had the opportunity to see and experience the joy that occurs in both teacher and student when those internal lights go on! There is nothing more exciting than to see students “getting it” and knowing that I helped them to get there. I can’t imagine a more satisfying or worthwhile endeavor, outside of creating my own artwork.

In general, I believe that being a teacher makes me an active participant in helping students to achieve their best, despite any obstacles they may face. In my experience, any student who is willing can do well. The trick is to get them to be willing; to see that there is any hope that they can succeed. I have no illusions that would fool me into thinking teaching is easy, or that there might be some kind of magical formula that if properly applied would turn all students into high academic achievers. Every student is different and faces unique challenges that must be addressed with unique strategies. This requires patience, endurance, tenacity, and hope. I do not claim to have more patience than the average person, but I do have great endurance and tenacity, and strive to be a person who provides others with hope.

(For more on my philosophy concerning art education specifically, click here.)