Saturday, September 26, 2009

almost there

This summer was full of dread. I was worried I wouldn't get a job. And then, beneath that, there was an even bigger worry. I would get a job, but I would be terrible.

Student teaching wasn't super smooth. I discovered quickly that while I'm a natural at the teaching aspect, the organizational side of teaching- which is every bit as important- is seriously lacking. I quickly found myself to have piles of papers, I nearly forgot to put a chunk of grades in the official gradebook, and I was swimming in too much work.

One of my biggest realizations was that every lesson doesn't have to be the brilliant, show-stopping, groundbreaking lesson. I would have a lesson mostly planned out, go to finish the final touches a few days before, and think of a new and much better idea. I'd completely revamp the lesson, which of course required immense preparation, and stay up late the night before finishing it.

I couldn't keep this up. At the end of student teaching, I was doing a lot more basic, simple lessons. The extravagant lessons just weren't viable to do often, and I had to reign in my ideas to be more reasonable. Had I continued the way I was teaching, I would have easily been burnt out, but it was really hard for me to stop. It felt like giving up on my best ideas to not teach them.

I had to simplify things and figure out a better system for me. I improved by the end of student teaching, but I knew I still had a lot to learn. The thought of my own classroom was exciting, but after student teaching wasn't perfect, it was also incredibly terrifying.

What if I'm not good enough? What if my students don't do well? What if I can't control the classroom? What will the parents think? Will I keep my job?

Finally, after increasing worry all summer, I heard something back from one of the tens of schools to which I applied. I had landed an interview. Time to show the principal that I felt confident and competent- joy.

But I did okay. I explained to the principal that I'd learned a lot during student teaching about the art of teaching, but more importantly about myself as a teacher. I had learned many things I wanted to do or not do in my own classroom to make it work for me. I also came away from student teaching knowing that I have a lot more still to learn, and so I emphasized to the principal that while my youth and inexperience might be a weakness, my passion for improving was a definite strength.

As it turns out, I'm now in an interventionist position. It's amazingly well-fitted for me at this point. I am essentially an assistant teacher in a specific classroom, which feels very similar to student teaching. I have opportunities to lead the entire class, and many opportunities to work with struggling individuals and small groups. I'm still teaching, but I don't have all of the responsibilities of my own classroom just yet. I have a tremendous opportunity to keep learning from a more experienced teacher, and at the end of the year I'll be teaching my own class for six weeks.

I can't think of a better job to help me transition to a full-time classroom leader. Obviously, there are times I wish for my own room. I feel like an almost-teacher at times, but for now I'm hoping to take everything I can from the experience. So many qualified people I know simply haven't found a teaching job this year (including my own mom), and I'm thankful to have a job. Especially one where I can teach!

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