Monday, December 3, 2012

Student Teaching Musings

First and foremost.

It's obviously the most important thing in this post.

I had such a great time cheering the Cats on all year, especially last week in very close proximity to two great friends.

I'm working on getting my family to Arizona. It's a completely necessary, reasonable request, really.

In the meantime, I am startlingly close to being done with student teaching and done with college as a whole.

Countdown to graduation: T-5 days.

This time comes with overwhelmingly mixed reactions.

The first is relief.

I did it.

I am done with undergrad. It feels nice to know that have been successful in my endeavors to become a teacher. I have passed all my classes, passed all my tests, even passed my portfolio (I think! Update 12/4/12 I officially passed). And it feels fantastic. I can actually get a teaching job in a month if I wanted to.

Which inevitably leads to: “Holy crap. I can actually be a teacher. Someone would actually let me teach in front of kids. Alone. With no real teacher there to bail me out.

And the scarier part is after, I think, “I might actually be able to pull that off. I think I might be ‘ready’” Certainly, I don’t know everything, and I will make many mistakes. But I’m as ready as I can possibly be.

And then I feel relief I am not looking for a job next semester and get excited about going to Italy again.

But the prospect of leaving my students half way through the year is so sad. I get this ball of melancholy tight in my chest whenever I think about them going on without me. I work with such great kids that I genuinely want to see them through their freshman year. And I was not expecting that, at all. At the beginning of the year, I thought I would be dying to leave.

But I’m not. I love these kids.

No semester is perfect, but they are genuinely good, smart, inquisitive people who could really do great things with their lives if they choose to. I really believe that every single one of them could do something spectacular with their lives. Maybe that’s the naïveté that accompanies being a new teacher, but I don’t think it’s wholly a bad thing. Everyone needs someone who believes they are special.

Part of the reason these kids are so well behaved and great is because I had the chance to work with a fabulous cooperating teaching, Kathie Bartlett. She was such an exceptional model for me all year.

She reaches this fantastic balance of being strict with the kids and loving them. She sets high expectations but is there every step of the way to help the kids reach them. I saw all semester just how much she genuinely cares about the kids. She does such great things with her students, making them feel comfortable sharing ideas and not always being correct. She always tells the students “it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.” And I always felt like this applied to me too.

She was always there to encourage me, help me, and make me better. I am so grateful for everything I learned in her room.

Under her careful guidance, I taught my unit on propaganda. I taught it during the election, so the timing was perfect. We spent the time studying the way propaganda is used, researching each candidate, and making our own propaganda. They were so creative. I was really impressed with the work they made. 

And even though I am looking forward to sleeping to a reasonable time in the morning again, waking up wasn't so bad because I every day I experienced something exciting and interesting. 

For all these reasons, I look to my last few days with a heavy heart. I don’t want to go. 
I know I have to. I know I’m moving on to a new adventure. But part of me will be with these kids at Manhattan High East Campus. Go Indians!

K-State Grad Taylor Mali is a spoken word poet and has two interesting/funny videos about teaching and “The the Impotence of Proofreading.”

I think every teacher and education major ever has had to watch this but for good reason.

Just as a warning, this video has innuendos and should be watched in a controlled context. But it’s highly hilarious.