"I'll buy a website" I said, "I'll update it and everyone can see what I'm doing". Flash forward over a year and I realise that was a totally unrealistic goal. This has been quite a year and I'm still working on compiling all my resources, memories and experiences.
In my time between leaving IES Halmstad and starting with the Limestone District School Board in Kingston I’ve been keeping busy and reflecting on my own teaching and plans for the future. I’ve also officially moved out and become a real adult. It’s been a big 6 months.
While I was in Sweden, I thought a lot about if I had made the right decision to go abroad or if I should have stayed to start supply teaching and build my seniority. I struggled with being alone in a foreign country and finding time for self-care and wondering if I was any good at being an art teacher. Now that I am back and I successfully made it on to both the elementary and secondary rosters in the LDSB, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about my path.
Sidenote: I learned so much about teaching in general and teaching art, but I also created lifelong friendships that I will cherish forever. Leaving IES Halmstad was way harder than I ever could have imagined it would be. I hope that one day I will find a staff even a quarter as loving, supportive, and encouraging as the staff there. They definitely spoiled me for every faculty in my future.
ALSO I got to travel and learn about (and see!) the things I love to teach. Budapest was fun, Rome was a dream come true, Berlin was amazing and so full of History, and Spain was phenomenal. The experiences are worth more than the money I didn’t save because I traveled.
First, I was afraid I wasn’t a real enough artist to be an art teacher, that the students would know I was a fraud. Obviously, this was silly, and I learned that this really is what I’m meant to do. I leaned into my role as the “mean teacher” my sister always said I would be. But students understood that I had high expectations and cared about them learning. In turn, they cared about the work they produced. I showed them that I was a passionate dork who just really loved colour theory and art history and new paper and all the other “boring” things. Students began to want to come to art class because they saw that art could matter to them too.
I was honest with students about my own artistic practice and enforced with them that art class is not about the product – it’s the process. We operated under the idea that anything can be fixed in art class and nothing is ever “done.” Art became a team effort where we worked together to make their vision a reality. We focused more on creativity and creatively problem-solving than being able to accurately draw a hand. I stood on tables and we tried new things together.
I got to try lessons I’d always wanted to and test theories I’d formed while at the faculty of education. I got to experiment and learn about my subject in my very first year, for that I am very lucky. I got to practice my classroom management skills and build a bank of resources and 5 distinct art courses to pull from for the future. I have lessons that I can pick up for a supply day if I need them. But what I learned the most is that if you build a safe place where students feel welcome and challenged, you’ll accomplish some really great things together. Through my struggles I have built the resiliency I’ll need to make it through the tough days as a supply teacher, and the knowledge that I am doing what I’m meant to do.
So here we go again, I’ll try and keep this updated more often and post more of my own work when I can get around to creating again.