Editor's Note: Studio Potter gave free access to the online journal to 387 educational institutions, supporting their unexpected transition to remote learning in the spring of 2020. We invited educators, from all classrooms, regardless of how “classroom” was defined, to give their students a writing assignment and send us the top three for publication consideration. Selected student authors receive a personal one-year membership to Studio Potter.

SHAWN O’CONNOR , adjunct assistant professor of visual arts and associate director of galleries and museum at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, gave his students a few prompts to inform the essays they submitted. In the three submissions he presented, each student worked from the prompt, “What have I learned about myself by learning to throw on the pottery wheel?” O’Connor’s classroom philosophies came through their voices; while he laid the foundation, each author had a strong sense of their own journey. Their writings are presented below, unified as one essay portraying the student-teacher relationship. 

Caroline Trimmer: I wake up at 8:00 a.m. every morning, pour myself a cup of coffee, and eat the same breakfast I’ve been eating since starting college four years ago. Every semester I’ve taken classes in the same two buildings. This year though, my senior year, I decided to take ceramics. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It was in a new building, at a new time of the day – 8:30 a.m. to be exact – early for a senior in college. But I’ve seen all of those satisfying videos on Facebook of people making work on the wheel, and I’ve thought, “How hard can it be?”

Rachel Gomez Hernandez: The first time I walked into the pottery barn, I was full of hope and ready to work with a new medium. I will not write about how cliché it was to sit at the wheel and think about the amazing pieces I would make. Nonetheless, as we smacked our lumps of clay onto the bat and fiddled with the speed, I did.