“It’s like they throw a bunch of sticks at you and say ‘OK, make a cake.'” These words, as said to me by my sister, still rattle around my head anytime I think about the transition from art education teacher candidate to in-service art teacher.
My name is Julia, I am a preschool art teacher on the Upper West Side and one of the Art Education graduate students working on their thesis this semester. I also have an undergraduate degree in Art Education from CCNY. I gravitate towards photography, whether I’m using Instragram, a camera, or creating color photograms.
I was beyond nervous before I started student teaching while completing my undergraduate degree. I knew I had the information to teach, but I had spent my time in the CCNY art education teaching program learning about teaching theoretical students, what the different education theorists say about their development, artists, mediums, techniques, and writing the perfect lesson plan and still didn’t feel prepared for real students. I felt I missed having the right type of experiences to build the confidence to believe I could complete the countless tasks of an effective teacher. I read through the “Handbook of Fieldwork Experiences,” written by the CCNY Office of Clinical Practices, which outlines what one should expect to learn and accomplish during their fieldwork. I had no doubt that fieldwork is an important part of teacher education. (This is confirmed by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’s rationale for fieldwork as a requirement for education programs.) But somewhere I missed the part about how fieldwork will increase confidence in my own abilities.
My thesis is about how fieldwork increases the self-efficacy of CCNY art education teacher candidates in relation to being an educator. I will interview undergraduate and graduate students about their various fieldwork experiences in classrooms, museums, and community groups. We will discuss what elements in fieldwork increased their belief that they have the ability to create and implement tasks and goals to become an effective teacher. I also will be looking into the connections art teacher candidates make between their fieldwork with their coursework and potential career path. My hope for this research is to discover the best way art teacher candidates can use their fieldwork to ensure they have as much confidence in themselves to become a highly effective and influential educator. That they feel as confident as possible to create a great cake out of a bunch of sticks.