I am half-way through my third and final practicum. After six years of post-secondary education I am five weeks away from starting my career. I just wanted to remind my future self of why I am doing this and reflect on how far I’ve come.
Sarah, you are doing the impossible. You have chosen a career that will consume your entire being and you will forever and always be a teacher. Your certificate does not make you a teacher, a classroom does not make you a teacher, and a paycheck does not make you a teacher. You are a teacher because you have the ability, privilege, and desire to impact many lives.
I think about my 70 students that I am teaching right now. Sorry everyone. This select group of teenagers gets to witness me embarrass myself everyday, watch me stumble over my words, contradict myself, not know the answer, and constantly run out of time. Sometimes I am disorganized. I read from my notes when I am nervous. I feel unprepared almost every day. I forget that I am an adult sometimes and try to act “cool”. Most days I’m a hot mess, but somehow I end up putting on my big girl slacks, get my photo copying done, and I survive the day. And then I do it again.
I am working with a well seasoned teacher, whose knowledge base will far exceed what I will know in my entire life time. It has been intimidating to teach in his place because he is highly revered in the school. He has proved to me that there are teachers who have 30 years of experience that are still growing and willing to try new things. He inspires me to continue growing in knowledge in and outside of my career. He has shown me that everything I learn in my own life is directly related to what I can teach to my students.
Remember Sarah that you have an entire career ahead of you to hone your skill. It has been frustrating to feel held back by inexperience. I want to give the best to my students and I am extremely grateful that they are patiently taking this journey with me. My students are forgiving and respectful. How is it possible that I can care so much about 70 strangers? How is it that I am personally responsible for such an important part of their young lives? Remember that sometimes it feels like you give so much and you get little in return, but you actually do not know the ripples of your effort.
I have a student who had asked me why I wanted her to re-do an assignment. I explained to her that her answers did not correctly answer the questions. “So my answers were stupid”, she said and immediately shut down. I did not know how to respond in that moment. All of a sudden I had a student who thought I was calling her stupid. I tried to fix the situation but she obviously did not want to talk to me or about it anymore. The bell rang and she left. I felt completely shaken. How had she thought that I was calling her stupid? I couldn’t think straight. I talked to my CT and an EA about it and they both told me to give her some space and assess her demeanor the next day. The next day she was in a good mood and treated me as if nothing had happened. I decided that I would leave it be so as to not make things worse. The following day she came up and apologized to me. She said that there were some family issues going on at home and that she had been in a really bad mood that day. She wanted me to know that she was sorry. She must have respected me enough and felt comfortable enough with me to apologize. I am so honored to work with young people that trust me.
Remember that as much as you want all your students to pass your class, some will fail. This is not your failure to bear. Every student takes different amounts of time to realize that education is important. Not everyone will come to this realization. Do not give up on them.
Remember that things do not always go according to plan. Make things up. Be spontaneous. The students don’t need to know.
Remember to be yourself. You are the reason that you are a teacher. The students will benefit the most if you are comfortable and if you enjoy what you are teaching.
And most of all remember that you are learning. Everyday I am learning; learning minute by minute. I’m learning how to make mistakes and how to fix them. I am learning how to be successful. Success does not come without many failed attempts. My poor students. Remember that students are resilient, flexible, and forgiving. Thank you for challenging me, pushing me, and encouraging me everyday. These kids make waking up tired and grumpy every day worth it.
It is the impossible job and sometimes to find the possible you have to attempt the impossible.
Just keep that in mind.