I know it's been almost a month since my last post, but this is the first chance I have gotten to breathe since student teaching began. By now, I am teaching the entire day, as well as bringing the kids to their specials and to lunch. On Wednesday, I spent almost 12 hours at school in preparation for open house. I think the hardest thing about teaching is the fact that it is so physically and mentally exhausting. For 6 hours, I have about 60 kids (between my math, homeroom, and science classes) who are watching my every move, hanging (but not always) on my every word. I need to find ways to inspire them, to challenge them, and (most importantly) get them to remember the information. And not just for a test, but teach it in a way that will stick with them for the rest of their academic careers. When I'm not at school teaching, I'm at home planning units, planning lessons for the next few days, grading tests and projects, and trying to find a job for the summer and the fall.
There are some days I come home and reflect on every little thing that happened that day. There were some days in which I sat on my couch and thought "I can't do this." I feel most people do not and cannot understand what teachers must go through until they spend a couple months in their shoes. I look at my cooperating teacher and I cannot understand how she balances her family, her life outside of school, and the needs of 60 children every day without fail. I keep telling myself that it's something that comes with time and dedication, but it's so hard not to think I am failing because I am not at that level yet. When I peek in the rooms of some of the other teachers in the school, I can tell they have been crafting their units for their particular grade for dozens of years. The care and planning these teachers put into their every day teaching is remarkable and inspiring, and I hope to work towards what they have accomplished.
When you're inundated with planning or problems with students it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've tried to teach myself to think of something positive that happened each day, whether it's getting a boy with anxiety to complete the writing portion of his test or (much to my pleasant surprise) watching my 5th graders eat up my poetry lessons, which I thought they would hate. One boy in the class, who struggles in many areas, will pull me aside to show me what he has written for my poetry lessons, his face beaming and his voice getting excited. It's those moments that I strive to hold on to because it is the reason I want to do this job in the first place. I want to be that person that inspires 5th grade boys to write poetry and a sarcastic and unruly science class to explore the wonders of the deep ocean. As my student teaching is coming to a close, I'm trying to sit and reflect on the things I still need to work on in my last two full weeks of student teaching. I fear that I will not have enough time to develop lessons in which I differentiate instruction or practice different classroom management techniques but I need to remind myself that I will have the rest of my life to perfect these things. I am not solely limited to my time left in student teaching. When I first entered my quarter life crisis and was trying to understand what to do with my life, I realized I needed a job that was challenging and always changing. Teaching is just that, because even if you've been teaching Kindergarten for 35 years you're always going to have a new set of students, with a new set of challenges and things to teach you as well.
I want to be a teacher because I want to inspire others, to help them reach their fullest potential, and to give them the tools they need to succeed. I want to design lessons that are tailored to students' individual needs, that challenge their critical thinking skills, and that inspire them to do more. I want to be a role model to students and help guide them through some of the most difficult and rewarding years of their lives.
This post was originally titled "Fried Onion Rings," but I guess I had more to say about the past few weeks than I realized. This post quickly went from a quick update to keep my readers interested to a deep self-reflection on my student teaching experience. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I guess the onion rings will have to wait until another day.