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I’m done with student teaching, but not because the semester is over.

I did not fail.

I just didn’t succeed.

Last Thursday morning, I woke up an English Education Major. I went to bed that evening as an English Major.

I’m still graduating in May, just not exactly in the way that I had planned.

My student teaching placement was horrible. I was bullied by the students, and a little bit by my supervising teacher. The school was undergoing major changes at an administrative level (they “reassigned” their principal). It was rough. At first I thought I could stick it out.

But then, two weeks ago, my university supervisor came in. I had two options: withdraw on that Friday, or go through the five-day improvement plan the next week and then, if I still didn’t meet the criteria, I would have to withdraw that next Friday.

I thought I could do it. I spent 13 hours that weekend in the library, working on lesson plans. I didn’t go to bed before midnight at all that week. But by Wednesday last week, it was clear – my supervising teacher was getting her class back. I was teaching a lesson, and I could see she was looking for lesson plans. I knew then. Hell, I knew it on Monday that week. My heart just wasn’t in it.

I left the school on Friday. I will not return. I changed my major and talked to Dr. Hartman about the ordeal. She knows I should not have been at that school, and my supervising teacher did many things wrong that hindered me.

Things didn’t work out, so yeah, so what? From Thursday through Sunday, I felt fine. I felt as if a whole weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and my aunt Beth said that if I feel that way, I did the right thing. Dr. Hartman said not to make any major decisions for the next two weeks, since I was still in shock. I’ve tried to take her advice, and so far, I’ve been following it. It’s just difficult because I really want to act, I do – I just don’t know what to do, or think. My mind is in a muddled state.

I went home on Friday and  had a lovely weekend. I went to a school play with my mom and ate at Daddio’s on Saturday. Sunday, I went to visit Alex, and we watched Exit Through the Gift Shop and ordered Yen Ching for dinner. He’s been very supportive, as has my family, despite some initial trepidations, which is understandable.

But Monday, it hit me. I was washing dishes (my mom’s so glad to see me at home – she puts me to work), and I just thought, “What am I doing? What am I going to do with a damn degree in English?” It’s like that Avenue Q song, but not so funny when it’s happening to you.

I outlined my four main options now, which can be mixed and tailored as needed.

Option 1: Substitute teaching. It would give me more experience in the educational field in the event I go back for my post-bachelor degree. I think I was lacking in experience when I went into my student teaching, and this could help me. I could do it in Muncie Community Schools, since I’ve already had my background check. Since my lease is up in May, I could only do it from now until then, which isn’t much. I would probably have to do a little extra to substitute in Madison County, but I’d be able to live with my mom.  Then, the question still remains – What do I do when school is out between June and August?

Option 2: Grad school through BSU. They don’t have the exact options I’d want, but at least their deadlines for application haven’t gone whooshing by. I could get a masters in rhetoric/composition, and teach English 103 and 104. Not perfect, but I’d at least be teaching students who want to learn and are paying to be there, not students who don’t care about what I want to teach, which is what I’ll face if I’m in a public school system. Another con, though – money.

Option 3: Grad school through IU. If I could have my choice of masters degrees, I’d get one in library science. My friend David is currently enrolled in the library science program through IU, and he loves it. He told me about it when I saw him at our friends Jason and Julie’s wedding a few weeks ago, and I was sold. The problem is , again, coughing up the money for grad school, and also, their deadline for fall applicants has passed, so I’d have to wait until next spring. I’m okay with that, except, like Option 1, what  would I do with my time between May and next January?

Option 4: TESOL. I know that there are degree add-ons to be certified as a teacher of English as a second language, but there are some programs in which I could become  certified online – no teaching degree required – and then go teach in a foreign country. There  is the small issue of money for the class and for travel, but I would be getting teaching experience, a cultural experience (which I’m totally for), and my students would actually want to learn what I have to teach them. The major problem is obvious, though. I don’t know how long I’d be gone or what access I would have to a computer/Internet. Could I bear to leave Alex for so long?

I’m in a dilemma. I need to choose something. Yeah, Dr. Hartman said two weeks, and I’m obeying it. But I can’t stop thinking about what comes after.

Today I went to formally withdraw from my enrolled course as a student teacher. Soon, my student access to the gym, library, and Health Center will probably taken away from me. I was told by the Financial Aid office that I owe $900 because, since I’m not going to officially be a student, I need to repay some of my financial aid.

I sacrificed money this semester. My hard work should have paid off, but because of the whole situation, I can’t get any of my tuition refunded.

I sacrificed my job this semester. I can’t get it back because, again, I won’t be considered a student.

I sacrificed myself. I’m getting her back, but it’s not easy.

 

I just keep asking myself – What now?


P.S. Anyone have a job opening for a recently graduated English major who has worked at a public library/customer service/receptionist job before? Some teaching experience, just not certified.

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No, I’m not stopping the blog. Not that I’ve been posting much recently.

It has occurred to me that I haven’t been taking my student teaching seriously enough. Or well, maybe I have, but I really need to work on improving myself and my classroom instruction.

So, among some other changes in my life, I need to put the 101 Goals on hiatus. Well, some are still going to apply – i.e., complete student teaching and graduate. However, things like painting or growing plants… well, I can’t do them right now. I can’t really focus on anything, in all honesty. I suck.

So, I officially want to put the list on a break. I’m going to pick it up again as soon as this student teaching thing is over, or at least when I’m not anxiety-ridden and confused like a rabbit who has been plucked out from his cage and is freaking out when a bunch of kindergartners want to pet him.

I will then do math (I don’t feel like doing it now) to figure out how much time I have left to my “1001” days.

Yeah, so it’s going to be like, 1000+ days, but I want to make this a fair effort. Let’s face it, I won’t be doing much of anything besides schoolwork for the next three months…

Yes, I know. I was supposed to keep this thing updated. Well, that’s not going over well, is it? Don’t be surprised if I don’t update much, or at least, not until May, when I’ve graduated.

Things are a mixed bag during student teaching. I don’t want to get too into it, since it’s – well – a mixture of things, and I don’t want to speak too much about it since this blog is publicly accessible. I don’t know. There’s just a lot. For me personally, I need to work on my inner strength, my teacher presence (keeping my voice loud enough for everyone to hear), and my relation to the students. They come from a different class than I do, so things are definitely different at this high school from my hometown high school.

The challenge as a whole? Our school has been categorized as “failing” by the State, and things are progressively getting worse in the English department. It really is discouraging.

While we have our good days – I survived my first surprise university supervisor visit on Monday and was thrilled – there are also the bad, such as today. I think everyone is worn down, and we didn’t even have much time in school last week (holiday, snow day, two hour delay and pep rally).

And it’s only going to get harder from here. I take the two sophomore classes over on February 7th. I’ll be doing all five classes about a week or so later.

I just don’t know how I’m going to do this. I can’t back out now, there is nowhere to go but forward. I need to get through this, and I will – somehow.

I drove back to the apartment yesterday evening. It was the hardest trip I’ve ever had to make. Even though it only took an hour, I felt so torn apart having to go back to the stress of school. I love my mom. We’re close. I had the best break ever, and it hurt me to go. I think we both cried when it was time to say goodbye. I put on David Bowie and sobbed during the whole trip. I try to be strong. But I love that feeling that I have when I’m home, when I have someone who cares a damn about me, when I actually have the time and will to make a delicious dinner not for myself, but for someone else. When there’s that love. So coming back to an apartment where nothing outside my bedroom feels like mine (someone used my butter while I was gone – and I had a label on it, for crying out loud!) and I feel I can’t be myself isn’t exactly ideal.

I guess the good thing is that today is the beginning of the last semester I will ever have to take as an undergraduate (hopefully). I am student teaching, and am terrified. I doubt myself as a teacher. I think I’ll be okay, but it’s still pretty nerve-wracking. I’ll be starting my days at Central tomorrow. I just wish I didn’t feel so anxious.

All student teachers had orientation today. We spent most of the day (from about 8:30 am to 11:45 am) getting lectured about conceptual framework, timelines, expectations, portfolios, and about twenty minutes on blood-borne pathogens. Exciting, I know. I sat with Tim and Rachel, two people I know from other classes in my content area. It was good to be with some familiar faces, though it’s probably the last time I’ll see them – except maybe graduation.

After lunch, we met with our University Supervisors. Johanna and I have the same one since we’re at the same school. Josh was also there, I had him in my EDPSY class. A lot of people in my practicum, since they have local schools, also have the same one.
I might have to quit my job, after all, though. I don’t want to fail student teaching. I know my shifts will only be on the weekends, but I still need to put my teaching experience (and my sanity/health)  first. We’ll see. I’m going to give it a try. I don’t think my University Supervisor approves of me working, though. I don’t think he thinks I’m serious about what I’ve chosen to do as a profession. He’s wrong. I care, but I need to have some sort of income. I’m still basically on my own.

The only thing that actually bothered me  was that he began a new topic by saying, “Have a boyfriend? Girlfriend? Dump them.” Of course, he later clarified that by saying, make sure your partner realizes that this is who you are, and they approve of your profession – if they don’t accept you as a teacher now, will they ever? I’m glad he clarified that. I mean, I understand what he’s saying. Some partners are needy and will whine if you have to spend time making lesson plans, grading papers, or researching ways to improve instruction in the classroom. But then there are the ones who will keep you sane.

Let me tell you about my one. My love. Last night, before going to bed, I had the sick, fluttering feeling in my stomach that I’ve had for a while. I’m super anxious – I’m almost wondering if I truly need to go on medication to control it. But I texted Alex one simple phrase: “I’m scared about this semester.” I’m sad that he won’t be near me for yet another semester, but it might be for the best right now, though, considering all I’d want to do is to be with him, and then it’d end up distracting me, like my university supervisor said. But let me share with you about what Alex sent back to me – a two page text about how much he loves me and how I’m strong and how we’ll get through this together.

This afternoon, he sent me a text telling me he hopes that today has been going well and that he can’t wait to see me this weekend.

Though I’m still nervous, I’m glad that I don’t have to be alone, and that I have someone who loves and supports me as I go through this incredible shift in my role from student to teacher.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s another week, and oh, what a doozy!

I have recently been afflicted by a bout of fatigue. Tuesday night, when I was at work, I was so weak, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep working, or even bike home. I’ve been trying to get some more rest, too, but that’s not easy.

I taught yesterday at the charter school in front of my professor and a video camera. It was okay. Not great, but at least my professor said I had shown a lot of progress. I still need to get my “teacher voice,” though. Then today, I taught another lesson for my practicum. The students weren’t as involved as they were last week. I guess the sense of fatigue, monotony, and general disinterest is infecting not only me, but also everyone. In short, the kids are quiet and it sucks, specifically since it reflects poorly on me.

In addition, I caught a bit of opposition today for lending a student my pen. I understand my supervising teacher’s purpose in making sure students come prepared for class, but I’m tired of watching him argue and belittle the students every day when, inevitably, one of the students forgets to bring one of his materials. Students need to have responsibility, but they aren’t perfect, and I find it is more important for them to write their journal entries than to take that time and lecture to the student.

I was just exercising my right, as I have learned in my classes, to form my own teacher identity. The teacher was lecturing the student, and I didn’t think anything of it and just gave the student my pen, saying, “As long as I get it back.” And you know what? He wrote his entry. I watched him. When he was done, he gave the pen back to me. He was thankful for it. We had a feeling of mutual respect. That’s more than I can say for my supervising teacher. I am sure he probably felt miffed that I undermined his authority by doing what I did, but I’m my own person, and I do care about those students. I want them to succeed, but I think the teacher and I have different definitions of “success.”

Despite my annoyance, I will miss the high school. Friday is my last day. Monday, I will be at the middle school, and who knows what will happen…

On the bright side and on a completely different note, Friday I get to see my Alex! It’s been three weeks since I’ve seen him, and we’re going to go see Electric Six. The tickets were my gift to him for his birthday. It should be awesome, and I’m so excited that I’m counting the hours until I can leave this city!

You know what is sad?

When you wake up late Sunday morning, and when your boyfriend wants to sleep a bit longer, you put on your glasses, pick up a textbook, and start reading until he’s decided he wants to wake up.

I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be so immersed in school anymore. I saw a few of my friends this weekend, and I hadn’t seen them in two weeks. Which was the last time the boyfriend came to town. I saw a few friends on Friday night, I hadn’t seen in probably longer.

My life is mostly not my life anymore. I can’t just throw on jeans and a t-shirt and be out the door in the mornings. I actually have to wear blouses and slacks and shoes that aren’t comfortable and leave blisters on my toes. If I’m really unlucky, I might just have to style my hair in the morning instead of letting it air dry and be frizzy. I just… you know, I want my life back.

I don’t want to start crying every Sunday when my boy has to leave. I don’t want to cry when I realize how much work I have to do and how much longer I have until I have a break. My fall break is Friday. That day, I don’t have any classes. It should be a blessing. Instead, I am going to be at the high school where I will be student teaching from 7:45 to 3:05. So even on my “day off,” I am in class longer than I am on a normal Friday, and I have to work the next day.

I don’t get an actual break until Thanksgiving, and even then, I will probably be typing up a unit plan on my computer while my family watches football and my relatives get all the glory in the kitchen. I want to cook! I want to make a delicious meal!

All of this being said, these past two days have been really nice, because I got to see my boyfriend. On Friday night, we made curried pumpkin soup (DELICIOUS!), hung out with some of our friends in the Village, and ate ice cream while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Saturday, we watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and agonized on how long the movie feels compared to its run time. We made kielbasa and potatoes for dinner, and then played Arkham Horror with our friend, Matt. We got our butts handed to us by Shuddle M’ell, but it was still a lot of fun.

I’ll admit, most times when the boy comes to visit, we don’t know what to do. We spend a lot of time sitting around, watching stuff, cuddling, and talking. Sometimes he plays his DS while I knit, or something like that. But even something so simple as doing dishes together makes me happy. I miss him a lot. The twelve days between our visits always seems like an eternity. We make the best out of things, though, and I’m glad to have him. He keeps me sane, keeps me from being a complete mess – or a monster.

I had something really cool to write about here, but it might have to wait for another day. Due to my procrastination lack of syllabus-reading, I realized that my unit plan for practicum is due Friday. This Friday, as in five days from now. I’ve been busy going to shows, watching Glee on my computer, knitting, crocheting, browsing the internet, doing a lot of other stuff, that I forgot.

So, I started today needing to write eleven days’ worth of lesson plans. I already had two done as class assignments, and I did my assessment assignment on Thursday. I’ve been busting my butt, but I’m not done yet. I did three today, and that was with my distractions: sleeping until 11 am, grocery shopping, laundry, making chili mac and a walk to the gas station for chocolate-covered donuts.

Needless to say, I’m pretty proud of how well I’m cranking out these lessons that fit into my unit, which is all about poetry. The biggest challenge is finding good poetry for high school juniors to read. I intend to (hopefully) have this done by Thursday night, so I can be happy and look forward to seeing my boy this weekend!

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