When I was approached with a job opportunity from Art Possible as a sophomore in college, I was astounded and grateful for the opportunity, while at the same time scared out of my mind. I knew that my resume was not long. The main thing I could bring to the table was experience I gained while volunteering at Beacon School in Athens, Ohio, for a semester; but I also had a lot of heart and ambition. Despite my nerves, I started my job as a teaching artist at Ewing School in Marietta, Ohio — my first real experience as a teacher.
I started in January 2020, halfway through the school year. In the few short weeks that I had with my kiddos before this extended break, I found confidence in my own abilities as an artist and a teacher, and an absolute love for the city of Marietta and my students. I am so grateful that I got those classes to learn about my students and all of their creativity and unique abilities. I will treasure this beginning as my first real experience teaching in the classroom.
Now though, I am learning to face the new challenges of being not only a brand-new teacher, but also a teacher in a time of pandemic and social distancing. Learning to create my own lessons and implement them for the first time was difficult, but exciting, in the classroom. Now I am working on making online lesson plans with my kids in mind and still finding that spark and excitement. I have struggled to come up with creative ideas that use easily-found supplies at home because I am not sure which materials my students have available to them. I am working on being mindful of economic and other possible constraints that would make finding materials or time more difficult under these new Ohio guidelines.
Finding motivation to work on lessons, be creative and do my own schoolwork in anxiety inducing times has been a struggle but I am finding it beneficial for me to keep my students in mind. So far, my favorite part of teaching from quarantine is receiving images of my student’s work. Since I was only with my kiddos for a short time, it meant the world to me to know that they are still there and still excited to be doing lessons I created. I worry every day about the teachers, staff and students at Ewing. It gives me peace of mind to know that I can still reach out to my kids and see they are still creating art. I want to make sure I can continue to keep their creativity rolling and give them a little cure for boredom during isolation.
Being a teaching artist for the first time and then learning to do it in isolation has taught me plenty. Though, it has especially taught me how much I care about teaching. I was devastated to find that I will no longer be working in the classroom, but I have found solace in lesson planning and sparking creativity in my students. A teacher at Ewing told me it seems like I have found what I am meant to do, and I think she’s right.