Ever since I was 13 years old, I wanted to be a photographer. I had a dream of working for some fashion magazine or advertising company as one of their head photographers, where I would be traveling around the world just to get the right picture.
After years of photography classes in high school, attending a two-week photography camp, and taking pictures everywhere I went, I decided to attend the University of the Arts where I would major in photography. Although I learned a lot my freshman year, I kept second-guessing my school choice and "dream" career path. There was nothing wrong with the school, but it just was not for me.
I thought about my photography teacher in high school, along with my other studio art classes, and I couldn't help but envy their job. I wanted to teach students how to apply their creativity and outside knowledge to their artwork, I wanted to teach different techniques in different mediums, but most importantly, I wanted to have a job that made me feel like I was actually making a difference in the community.
I decided to transfer to Buffalo State College, where I will be graduating from in May 2016 with my Bachelor's in Art Education (K-12). Transferring to this school changed my life for the better. When I went to class, I was so interested in what I was learning. Then, during my first on-site teaching lesson at a middle school, something just clicked. I knew that this was what I would want to do for the rest of my life, I absolutely loved it.
Now, as I'm finishing up my senior year, I am so happy I made the decision to transfer. Regardless of what career path I had been dreaming about my entire life, this is the one for me. After choosing to major in art education, I got a lot of unwelcome opinions. Most of them laughing at me saying I would never find a job, others making fun of my major suggesting that I might as well "major in finger-painting" because what else to art teachers do.
First things first (I'm da realest ~), becoming a Teacher IN ANY SUBJECT is a rigorous and difficult process. Not only do we need to meet all of the general credit hours, liberal credit hours, and our subject area credit hours in classes like every other college student, we also have a lot more additional work outside of our class time. You have student teaching, where you still have class at night. We also have about five seminars that we need to go to outside of our school hours (and pay for ($35 - $50 per seminar)) that New York State requires to graduate, and to obtain our temporary certification.
BUT WAIT, that's not all! We are also required to take three different New York State Certification exams: the ALST ($131, Academic Literacy Skills Test), the CST ($119, Content Specialty Test), and the EAS ($109, Educating All Students). Once we pass those exams we are on our way to our temporary certification, but not there yet! We also need to complete and pass our EdTPA ($300, Teacher Performance Assessment), which consists of three tasks that show our planning, instructing, and assessing of student work.
Once we have complete and passed our exams, seminars, and assessments on top of our coursework and student teaching we need to pay an additional $50 just to receive our certification. Also, they don't even send you the certificate anymore, they email you a PDF of it... so that email cost you $50. However, once you receive that $50 email, your are only temporarily certified. In order to receive your Professional certification, you need to complete a Master's Program within five years of your first teaching job.
So, next time someone decides question an educator's or education major's career choice, I would be a little hesitant. We are not going to go through all of these hoops, if we are not passionate about our career. I love to teach, and I love to teach art. Becoming an educator has been the most rewarding experience, I wake up every day with a smile on my face and look forward to starting my day every morning at school.