Rachel Wilson, Photography Teacher, Charlottesville High School

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of being a teacher is all the daily facets to the position. Being a teacher is so much more than teaching content. Teaching is developing relationships, inspiring passion and a love of learning, teaching kindness and respect, along with being attentive to your students’ daily dispositions to notice when they are having an off day. You also have to be ready for the hundreds of questions you will be asked in a day.
What’s the most common misconception about your job?
I think that most people probably think my job is easier than other teachers’ jobs when they hear that I teach photography. I take my job very seriously and am always working hard to improve my lessons. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about my students deciding they want to be a professional photographer for a career (although it’s super exciting when they do); it’s about helping students find their passion, whatever it may be, and helping preparing them for life after high school by teaching job skills and fostering creativity.
Where do you see the teaching field in five years?
I see teaching becoming more and more project-based. It seems as if our state government is starting to listen and understand that tons of testing is not necessarily creating successful students. I also think technology will continue to be huge component in education.
What outside experience prepared you best to become a teacher?
My passion for photography and background as a photojournalist was hugely helpful in becoming a photography teacher. Also, having an interest in working with children–I was already volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club when I applied for my teaching position. Another thing that I think was helpful for me was not having any preconceived ideas of what teaching should be. I was hired on a provisional license based on my professional experience and have taught solely at Charlottesville High School, so that’s all I know!