A day off for Good Friday allows me to write a bit about my current experience as a student teacher this spring. Some background first. My last step in my Masters program is a full-time field experience working in a teacher’s classroom for almost 4 months. I started with observing my teacher’s classes and slowly started taking over lessons. For the past 3 weeks I have taught 3 of his 5 periods. In a few weeks I will take over all 5 and teach them for the final month. I get officially observed by a professor from my university this time and am filling out a excruciatingly thorough form for the state providing “evidence” that I know what I am doing. Baring any set backs, I am due to graduate with my Masters and teaching license on May 18th. Pretty exciting.
First thought. No matter how much time you spend in a classroom, the first time you teach to a new group of students is nerve-wracking. The first lesson I taught a couple months ago went fine but regardless, 15 minutes in I realized my plan was not as good as I had hoped and I could not stop sweating. In February. Things have gone smoothly since but this reiterates my second point.
Teaching, even when it isn’t hard is never simple or easy. Now I do not want to be that guy who waxes on and on about how hard teachers work and how selfless we are and how big my future pension will be because I deserve it. But I am working. Granted my official “work day” is under 7 hours but as I have taught more I have watched my desk grow in piles of paper and attempted (and failed) organization schemes. How many piles do I need before I reach paper-usage nirvana? In any case here is my point. I don’t have the luxury of posting status updates about how I wish it was Friday already. I cannot zone out for 15 minutes because the lesson plan I created is boring even me. I am in front of skeptical young person who are complicated, diverse, disengaged and distracted. When I stand up in the front of class I have to perform and my performance better have some substance because they will call me out (mentally or otherwise) if I do not. Genuine teaching is the real deal and we should not let politicians or friends or society say otherwise.
Finally, things are going really well. I am pretty busy. I am trying to lesson plan, test create, grade work and get to know kids everyday. The “get to know kids” part is by far the best and being in a classroom everyday is a pretty fun experience. They can be funny and entertaining and sometimes even annoying and petty but bottom-line working with young people is totally worth it. I look forward to having my own classroom hopefully in the fall. Let the ridiculous craziness of this career begin and begin soon.