Though all of my thoughts now are on the start of school (which is rapidly approaching I might add), I wanted to take the time to reflect back on where I’ve come with a few notes I had written down, so ultimately, I can be even more excited about where I’m about to go, what I’m about to do, and what I’m about to experience.
My student teaching experience was one of the best learning experiences I could have had. I say this not because I learned a lot about teaching, but because perhaps I learned more about myself as a teacher and a person. You see, my CT (cooperating teacher) and I did not see eye to eye on many things at all (if any). I valued her teaching style, but I also valued my own; however, she did not value my style at all, and it was always very clear that it was her classroom (despite her attempts to encourage me to branch out which she clearly didn’t really mean because I never had that freedom). I know this may seem harsh, but unfortunately it is the truth. And to be honest, I don’t know that many of my peers would have had the same problem because coming in because I already had a clear focus, a clear set of goals, etc. which many may not have quite had already (if that makes sense).
Basically, I learned quickly that some people (and I do want to emphasis some) can be intimidated when another is confident. I learned that being a mentor needs to be more than receiving “hours” and needs to include a desire to learn and let go…and if I ever have a student aide, student teacher, etc. I will make sure I’m being a mentor for the right reasons.
During my student teaching experience, I suddenly began to doubt myself and wonder if any of my ideas were “good” or not. I had my supervisor and adviser to lean on through my education program (thankfully!), but every day I found myself in a classroom that I hated (minus when the kids were there). I had no mentor, no one to listen to me, no one to help me. A few of my peers were there for me, too, and soon I learned to branch out of the room as just around the corner, I found a mentor (who always had a listening ear and chocolate which can be a powerful combination, ha!). I already knew that not all work experiences were perfect; after all, I have been in a few before myself. BUT I quickly realized if I worked at a school that made me feel this way every day, I would not be able to work there because I was truly not happy.
At first, I absolutely envied my colleague who had quite a different experience. She was immediately thrown into the classroom as a long-term substitute, a position that again, I’m not sure many “student teachers” besides a few select people could handle. I SO wanted to be in her shoes and found my creative outlet while helping her as much as I could because at least I could express and share ideas with someone who would LISTEN. In fact, I realized that throwing random ideas out there for others was a great way for me to test and see if my ideas were “ok” or not…and looking back, I realize that I was teaching vicariously through others in a sense.
However, the bigger picture here is that as I reflect back on that time and despite my many frustrations, disappointments, and doubts, I realized that I actually have a lot to thank my CT for…I realized I was a lot stronger than I ever thought. I realized that I really loved teaching. I realized that I made a difference. I realized that everyone has his/her own teaching style…and that’s ok! AND perhaps the best part about it all is that I realized I have SO much to look forward to because though it seemed like the time would NEVER come, I now have my own classroom and am at a school where diverse teaching ideas are valued and encouraged…and even though I’m the “new” teacher, I’m viewed as a colleague and one to share ideas with, just as I can now share ideas with others, too.
So all in all, I’m thankful for my experience because it has helped me realize that if I made a difference in someone else’s classroom, the potential for me to make a difference in my own classroom is very promising. And I can finally exercise my creative side and truly see what works and what doesn’t work in the English classroom.
And in the end, I’m so excited and looking forward to the year that is to come!