Welcome to sarahannplatt.com! I figured that with a domain name so blatantly egocentric, (in the best way possible,) I would dedicate my first post to myself as a way to give my readers—and hopefully soon to be faithful followers, a sense of who I am…
If you’ve seen my business cards or my Instagram and Twitter account descriptions, you’ll see I’ve dubbed myself many things; namely an artist, an art educator (NYS certified), and a story enthusiast. It was easy for me to type those things down, but saying them out loud often feels… imprecise? My insecurities get the best of me and I feel a bit inadequate for the proclamations I am making. The voices in my head start to remind me that I’m not really a good artist, and certainly not a great one. Certified or not, am I really a qualified art teacher? And of course I say story enthusiast because in my mind that encapsulates reading a book or watching a television show—not just writing. Despite my Pintrest board dedicated to writing better and the seven or so years I’ve spent working on a Young Adult novel, I have only told a finite number of people that “my book” exist! (Until now… and may I tell you its a terrifying experience only slightly lessened by the fact that I am not standing before you as you discover my secret.) However, over the last few years I have come to terms with the fact that I may not be the best at anything, and I probably never will be, but that in no way diminishes the fact that I am who I am: an artist, an educator, a writer.
Becoming confident in who I am has not been an easy road. And it’s not a road I’ve come to the end of either. All my life it seems like I’ve constantly been surrounded by such a vast amount of talent. Therefore, I often found myself wallowing in self-pity, shutting down and refusing the practice that I so often have told my students is the key to getting better at anything. I believe what I tell my students whole-heartedly, but discouragement wields an unfortunate amount of power, even for the teacher.
A few years ago I made the decision to go back to school for a degree in Visual Arts Education. If I thought I had been surrounded by creative super-geniuses before, I had now placed myself in an environment that drowned myself in them. No matter where I went on the very artsy campus, the students were brilliant. Although at times I found myself disheartened by my abilities in comparison to my classmates’, what I discovered at SUNY New Paltz was a strong source of friendship, encouragement and support. The elements I hated the most about my work, were more often than not the things that someone else loved—and vise versa! I discovered that all artists have their insecurities, and its fighting against them and working hard to become better that separates a good artist from a bad one. Artists are always changing, learning, growing, improving, and maybe most importantly, creating.
I am an artist.
Hiding Something, 2012
There are very few things that are more nerve wracking to a student than student teaching, (the edTPA probably ranks in at number one!), there are very few things more challenging than being a long term substitute for a class that is already underway, and there are probably very few things more frustrating than trying to teach something to a group of people who aren’t quite grasping the concept. But all of these situations have the rewarding moments that make it worth it. I have a 2-D paper hot balloon with a curly haired figure representing myself tucked inside the basket, created by a second grader with the words “Mrs. Plate, you are a very good teacher” written across the balloon. Although the student wrote Plate instead of Platt, it remains one of the most precious things I own. I also cherish images of ceramic character sculptures that are fabulous and created by high school students who had very little experience with clay before I introduced them to it. While working on a large assignment in class, I once heard a student shout out across the room, “Mrs. Platt, you were right! It worked!” I grinned at her and jokingly responded, “Well, I’m always right, of course it worked.” Nevertheless, her ah-ha moment was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. In the midst of all my concern and self-doubt, these moments are what validate a teacher’s purpose. They are more encouraging than passing the edTPA could ever be (which I did by the way).
I am an art educator.
I know a fantastic writer. Unfortunately for all of you, she is not yet published, but she’s definitely good enough and one day will be. Yes, she’s that fantastic. I gave her a sample of my writing to read a few years back. You are going to have to take my word and just believe me when I tell you it was a pretty horrible writing sample, but this writer came back with positive remarks and constructive criticism that encouraged me to keep going, to keep writing, to be a writer. Since then I’ve lost countless hours of sleep analyzing my characters, considering the plot and replaying/reworking important scenes in my head. I’ve spent entire days writing. It’s not always an easy process but it is a process that I feel has been worth the trip. If I ever finish it, the story will be an accomplishment that I will feel proud of whether or not it ever gets published, because finishing a full draft is an important milestone for a writer.
And I am a writer.
So, here I am now, blabbering on about myself to you… I’m not trying to sound self-important or self-centered–and believe me when I say that I am my own worst critic, but I have decided that an important step in my journey is to make this public declaration:
I am an artist.
I am an art educator.
I am a writer.
I want to share my story with others struggling to believe in themselves, and like so many have done for me, I want to encourage others to be creators who create without fear. I want to use this blog as a platform for myself, but also for other artists, other educators and other writers. Follow me. Shake off discouragement. Share my journey.
Sarah Ann Platt