My life has consisted of several small “ah-ha” moments that nudged me in the teaching direction. When I was little, there were three things I always liked to pretend to be: a veterinarian, a nurse, and a teacher. I knew I could only pick one, and I loved animals very much, so I chose to set my sights on becoming a veterinarian. This dream changed in high school when I observed at a vet clinic and witnessed a dog being put to sleep. At that moment, I realized I could not be a veterinarian because I could not kill any animal with my own hands.
My parents suggested I try to focus on becoming a nurse and I agreed with them. Thus, I enrolled in the technical classes at my high school that focused on my new goal. I completed all of the health occupational classes and gained a Certified Nursing Assistant license to prepare me for my college experiences. After two and a half years of focusing on a nursing degree, I began to question why I was actually trying to become a nurse. I told myself it was because I wanted to help others and save lives, but in the back of my mind, I knew there was something missing. When I realized this, I began to search Kennesaw’s degree programs to find the thing I really wanted to do with my life.
When I came across the Bachelors program for Art Education, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. I immediately changed my major online to Art Education. The next semester, I enrolled in the beginning level education classes. For my first observation day, I went to a high school art class to observe and loved it! The students were interesting, the classes were interactive, and the atmosphere made me feel like this was the place where I truly belonged. I was happy to go to my educational classes because I felt confident about my future. But as the semester progressed, I began to feel uneasy about my choice. I began observing all three of the high school’s art classrooms, focused separately on drawing, painting, and sculpting, and the confidence I had in my decision just plummeted. Day by day, the students were becoming more unruly and disrespectful while the teachers slowly stopped caring. Students were throwing things, making fun of the teacher, making fun of art history, sculpting inappropriate things, and even being rude to me. When I went home at the end of the semester, to finally contemplate my choice, I realized the reason I felt so insecure about my decision was because it was not a happy environment for me anymore.
I reflected back on my high school days and remembered that even I was like that sometimes in high school. On this moment of reflection, I thought to myself, “What about teaching younger students? I bet they would not act that way. Art classes with them would be fun.” Immediately a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, “Hmmmm. I have never thought about teaching elementary school before. I admired my teachers and how exciting my days were in elementary school. Maybe I should look into this?” The next day, I went to see one of the advisers for the Early Childhood Education department. The adviser I randomly found to talk to about my situation was Dr. Doug Bell. He began by comforting me about my insecurities of graduating late and changing my major once again. This is when I realized I was too worried about how others saw me and not worried enough about my own wants/needs and what I truly wanted for my own future.
As we chatted, I sat and visualized how this wonderful new program would open a door of opportunity and happiness for me. When we were finished talking, I was hooked on the decision to officially change my major to ECE. I knew that I would be able to help students learn, give them guidance in life, create a fun environment, and even use my art/creativity skills to create interactive and interesting lessons.
When I first entered the teaching program, one of my dreams was to teach acceptance and tolerance to children. I aspired to create an environment where students feel okay to be themselves and are free from judgement. I also wanted to teach understanding and kindness to students. I believed that every child needs to learn that everyone is different and gain an understanding of this. I also aspired to teach students how to be respectful to one another by treating each other fairly. I aspired to make learning fun and to incorporate as many art and hands on activities as possible. I dreamed of being one of those teachers that their students remember forever because of the positive impact that is made on them.
My dreams and aspirations have grown stronger since my up and down experiences in the program. I want to be able to teach acceptance and tolerance to my students through various experiences that fully develop their understandings of these issues. I want to be sure every student in my class knows they are accepted for who they are. I aspire to teach respect, kindness, and acceptance every day in the classroom. I hope the little chances for learning about these issues will stay with them as they get older and shape them into more open-minded adults. A new dream of mine is to efficiently teach my future students all of the core subjects with ties to social justice in order to create more well rounded individuals. I purposely chose to enroll in the TOSS social justice program this past spring in order to learn more about the prevalent social issues that effect our society and the lives of younger students. I learned about these issues, not only to teach about them, but to also successfully identify and help prevent them in my future student’s lives.