First Hurdle Cleared

I have been in grad school since January. So far it has been fairly straight forward. A few papers, small presentations and of course a bit of angst related to lesson planning.  That’s the best thing about graduate school. You’re way past the need to take tests (except of course when it comes to proving to your state that you’re competent. For them a Masters degree is unimpressive. They need you to take a standardized test. How utterly opposite everything I’m learning about…).

Today however was a bit trickier. The past few weeks I have been drafting and finalizing my first fancy, official, graduate school of education, higher level thinking skills lesson plan. Today was my assigned day to present a 30 minute chunk of my lesson for one of my classes.

Let me be clear. I taught all last year in the Czech Republic. I planned lessons, wrote tests and gave homework. I started subbing here in America in December. I’m pretty comfortable in the classroom. Despite this, the build up to today was awkwardly stressful.

On one hand I knew I had a solid lesson plan about a topic I enjoyed (South Africa). On the other hand I just never feel sure with lesson planning if it is truly measuring up to all the theories and standards I learn about. Are my goals and objectives clear? Am I making them use higher level thinking skills? Will this tie in well and connect with my other lessons? Will they actually be interested? You can never be truly done with this stuff, it can always be improved.

This is one reason why academia annoys me. It makes you over-think and paranoid about things that don’t matter, namely grades.  However if today is any indication, I have pretty much nothing to worry about.

Today went great. Pretty much everyone told me I did a good job. My professor, who saw my lesson plan before class noted it looked comprehensive and solid. I got some really helpful constructive criticism about it as well. I was pleasantly surprised with how well a couple things went over but also what I need to do to drive a few points home better and really engage my students in disscussion. Perhaps most helpfully I got insight into what students will assume about my topic and therefore where to focus my attentions most pointedly.

In the end (and at the risk of sounding painfully arrogant) am I surprised? Of course not. I decided on this path last year. I enjoy being in the classroom and discussing topics. I strive hard to make everything interesting and relevant. I love seeing the big picture and connecting strands of thought together into something coherent. The logistics of planning will always be tricky and at times difficult. But today I cleared my first hurdle successfully and it’s a pretty good feeling. I’m going to be a teacher and I plan to be a darn good one.



Back to School…

Starting next week I start something I have been thinking about for over a year. Ever since I started to find my groove last year in the Czech Republic I have been thinking about becoming a teacher full-time.  To do so, getting my Masters in teaching was the next logical step. Now, after applying, getting in, buying books, and printing syllabi, my first classes are next Tuesday.

I am really excited to finally get this process started. Looking at my books I realize I will be interested by the subject material and completely qualified once I digest their contents. I am excited to be a teacher. I’m not excited to be busy.

If I had to think about it I don’t think I have been truly stressed-out busy, i.e. feeling like I had more stuff to do then I had time for, since my last year of college in 2007. This may seem strange to most people. Granted I have done a lot since I graduated but because not being stressed out is important to me I have always managed to stay not busy. Most people, Americans at least, like to be busy to the point of absurdity. The whole day must be planned out with varied and worthwhile activities. You must go, go, go until you reach a breaking point at which case you can take a vacation because hey, you deserve it.

I prefer to see what I have to get done, do it slowly, surely, and in good time and balance that with lots of not work time. I would rather have time to relax for an hour a day reading news or watching TV then to have no time for months and then vacation by “necessity.” My way it might be noted is quite a bit cheaper too.

Now I find myself with two part-time jobs and a full class load. I’ve always been pretty good with academics, I just hate the idea of being so busy I’m going to get stressed. I’m not asking for sympathy, a lot of people are in far worse, more stressful situations than mine that they can’t help.  I guess my only point is that starting next week I’m going to be busy and I can see both the positive and negative sides of the task ahead. Here goes nothing!