Student teaching has yet to begin for me. For some, they have already entered into the daily routines of their schools; I begin that adventure next Monday, and I am not that excited.
Maybe it's the fact that I am in my last semester at the tender age of 26 (gasp - I know! I look 20. I am aware.) and am so desperate to be o-u-t of school.
Maybe it's the idea of giving up so much of my time and energy for yet another semester to obtain a piece of paper. In the end, that's all it is. It is a piece of paper that says a lot about my accomplishments, but it is just paper.
Or maybe it's the fact that we just finished sitting through two days worth of presentations on how to not get fired and end up diseased and in jail for the rest of your life... 25 years minimum.
I could go on and on and on about the crap that teachers must face in the classroom, what they are morally, ethically, and legally responsible for, and how to react in a million different situations where the lawyer is telling you to do this thing to protect your butt and the school administration is telling you this other thing to protect themselves, because the second you have an issue, they're going to leave you up a creek, without a paddle, going the wrong way in the middle of a storm in order for them to protect their own behinds. *facepalm*
I know this isn't the case for the vast majority of teacher experiences. I know that. But by golly, they certainly make you feel like it in the days before you begin your student teaching.
Several people excitedly inquired yesterday as to how my first day back at school went. The course is Contemporary Issues.
I told them, "It was an extremely uplifting and encouraging experience. Except not really."
Why, you ask? Let's look at the presenting lineup for the two days, shall we? This is from 8:00am to 5:00pm, mind you - two entire work days of sitting in an auditorium about these things:
- Child Protective Services: Child Abuse and Neglect
- Bully Prevention
- Bloodborne Pathogens (If you don't know, look it up - the motto was "If it's wet and not yours, DON'T TOUCH IT!")
- Depression & Suicide
- Legal Issues in Schools I (Social media and interacting with students, via the lawyer)
- Legal Issues in Schools II (via the school board member)
- Basic First Aid
- Substance Abuse (Drugs & Alcohol and how it affects your students)
- Teaching English Language Learners (basically how culture and language affects your students and how best to encourage and help them in the classroom)
- Advice from the Front Line (by far the most positive as it had the most to do with teaching in the classroom; she also made us feel like we could actually interact with our students! *gasp!*)
Totally wasn't kidding.
What are the things that I have immediately taken away from this course?
- I could easily lose my job. And go to court. And possibly go to jail, but I face a way better chance of not going to jail if I have the OEA lawyers on my side.
- I could get a disease from my students. From ALL of my students, and from other teachers and parents and visitors, because we're supposed to always be super cautious about that stuff. Forget if a kid ran into the corner of the brick wall and his head is bleeding profusely; you better leave him there so you can run and get your latex gloves from your first aid kit in the locked cabinet at the other side of the room first. And don't you dare leave your students alone for a nanosecond because you'll probably get fired.
- I will encounter so many students that will deal with abuse, neglect, substance abuse or exposure to it, bullying, depression, and suicide. I can't even begin to make sarcastic remarks about this because it breaks my heart. I was one of those students. My friends were those students. My siblings encounter this stuff in their schools every day. My heart breaks for each and every one of these students, whether I encounter them or not. I hate it so much. We had 4 different sessions on this stuff and it was so discouraging.
- I also learned how to give "back throws and abdominal thrusts" (because it's not called the Heimlich maneuver anymore) in my classroom, but I sure as heck hope that doesn't cross the boundaries and I get fired for being that close to a student. Sigh.
- I learned some very positive things, though. I learned several key phrases to say to my students in the classroom for various reasons. I learned tangible ways to create a group space for a safe, positive learning environment. I was explicitly told (although we all know this but never hear it put this way) that learning requires vulnerability. Students are being asked to invite new ideas and information into their ways of thinking during every hour of the school day; if they're in secondary education (middle and high school), they're being asked to do that via a different person every hour. I learned explicit ways to help level the horizon and create the optimal learning environment for each student.
Okay, so I lied.
I'm not not excited about student teaching; I'm just not excited about the unknown.
Will I have a good mentor teacher? Will they like me? Will they give me too much too soon, or will they not allow me as much responsibility as I am supposed to have? What grade will I be in? How many student names will I try so desperately to learn and forget? How will the students react to me? Will I encounter one of those horribly tricky situations and get into trouble? What about lesson plans - how will those go? Will I bomb every single time? Will I turn red and break into hives or start sweating bullets? Will I somehow get my mentor teacher into trouble?
The questions are endless, I tell you. Endless. So is the anticipation and the worry; and with that comes the anxiety. And then I graduate in December. Am I going to sub or will I be offered a wonderful mid-year job? Am I going to teach at all? Will I get anything accomplished with my students ever?
I need a serious pick-me-up (Disney movie, anyone?). It's not even 7:00pm on Tuesday and it already feels like Friday.
But good gracious am I glad that it's not Friday yet. I'll take my few extra days to toughen up before my next big adventure begins, thanks!