T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

T3: What You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

I don’t dive into anything without research, so you can believe that I read numerous blogs and books before I started student teaching.  However, there is a lot that you cannot know without the experience itself.  Here are a few things that the student teaching experience taught me.

10 Things You Need To Know Before Student Teaching

1. Student teaching will be the hardest thing you have ever done.  I like to think that I have done some hard(ish) things in my life.  But I can assure you that student teaching was the most challenging of them all. Writing lesson plans, controlling thirty 10-year-olds, grading papers, trying to get enough sleep, and not to mention actually teaching consumed every second of my day.

2. You can’t quit.  Despite the difficulty, you have to keep the end goal in mind.  Every night, I would think, “Okay, only 117 more days until I graduate.  It will all be worth it when I have that diploma.”  With time, 117 days turned into 67 days, 37 days, 17 days, and eventually, 1 day.

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3. You won’t sleep.  Even if you manage to make it into bed, you won’t really sleep. At least, I didn’t.  I would lay in bed reviewing all of the lessons that I had taught, wondering what I could have done to make them better.  Then I would begin mentally preparing for any lessons that I had to teach the next day.  When I finally reached a stage of “sleep,”  I would dream about school.  Basically, I taught all night long.

4. You will love your students. Sure, they will drive you insane when, for the 18th time, they ask where they are supposed to turn in their reading test.  Yet, you will love them.  You will love walking into the classroom each morning and listening to their excited chatter about pandacorns and mermaids.  You will love it when they give you notes that identify you as “Mrs.” instead of “Miss” and make you feel like your mother.  You will love it when they claim that they have NEVER had so much fun in science.  You will love it when your underachieving student makes an 87 on a test.  You will love them, and they will become the reason that you write lesson plans, grade papers, and never get enough sleep.

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5. You have to schedule time for exercise.  I learned this lesson too late into the semester.  I think that my first 8 weeks would have been easier if I had allotted 30 minutes per day to just watch YouTube videos while doing a PIIT workout.  At the beginning of March, I set an alarm for 8:00 every night.  When that alarm went off, I stopped whatever I was doing to exercise.  The next 8 weeks were much less stressful.

6. It’s a very short time. As my mom told me at the beginning of the semester, “It is only 75 days (of actual teaching).  You can do anything for 75 days.  You can scoop manure for 75 days.”  (At the time, I told her that I would rather scoop manure.)

7. It gets easier. After the first few weeks of thinking “What am I doing?  Why did I think I could do this?  I am literally going to die from exhaustion.  The students aren’t learning anything”,  you fall into a rhythm. I will never forget facing a whiteboard to write a spelling word and thinking, “OMG!  I am actually teaching!  The students are actually listening!  This isn’t so bad.”

8. Organization is key.  I used approximately 7 different colors of pen, 6 pocket folders, 5 file folders, 4 binders, 3 calendars, 2 planners, and 1 overloaded Google Drive (I swear that I didn’t exaggerate for any of those) to prepare for each week.

9. Everyone makes mistakes.  Learn from them.  Most afternoons as I reflected on my day, I thought, “That was a dumb mistake,” but my dumb mistakes taught me to ALWAYS model the desired outcome, ALWAYS tell them where to put their finished work, and ALWAYS follow through on expectations.

10. Common Core math doesn’t make much sense.  It will make you feel like a chicken teaching fish how to climb a tree.

 

 

Change {And Why It Scares Me}

Change {And Why It Scares Me}

This afternoon I went on a walk to appreciate the beautiful colors of Autumn, and my mind drifted to the topic of change.

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I have never been one to like change.

I didn’t want to start first grade because I was afraid of staying at school after lunchtime.  Since my three closest friends transferred schools after fifth grade, middle school brought the fear of eating lunch without them.  When I moved up to high school, I was terrified of the upperclassmen.  The daunting world of college was more frightening than I thought I could handle.

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You see, I don’t like change because it is scary. I am fearful.  Change is terrifying.  I am frightened.

Despite my fears, I loved first grade–as a first grader, I learned to spell “long” words (like because and swimming).  In sixth grade, I became friends with two girls that stuck with me through the most awkward years of our lives.  Some of the upperclassmen that I played sports with in high school actually turned out to be friendly.  Furthermore, college has taught me more than I ever anticipated.

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I wish that I had learned the benefits of change by now, but change still haunts me.

When change happens, I have to face the unknown. I always like to know what will happen next, when it will happen, and how it will happen.  But when change occurs, those three facts are generally left up in the air.

And then there is the truth that change is painful.  Routine is comfortable, but change is unsettling.

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Yet, I know that change is necessary…Change is beneficial…Change brings progress.

Without change, we  might have pumpkins, but we would not have jack-o-lanters.  We might have trees, but we would not have the beautiful colors of Autumn.  We might have caterpillars, but no dazzling butterflies.  Pain might exist, but there would certainly be no knowledge or strength.

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Most importantly, change brings our salvation and sanctification.

In the past all of us lived like the world, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people.  But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.  –Ephesians 2:3-6

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When I was still living a life of self-pleasure and sin, God’s mercy and grace were great enough to rescue me.  He changed me and gave me a new life.

So, as hard as it is, I will embrace the change that brings godliness, beauty, and hope.

 

Questions for you:

Do you like change?  How do you deal with change?

What is the best thing that change has ever brought you?

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

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I had desk duty today at work.  On desk days, my sole job is to click a button to unlock the door if a parent needs to come inside.  It’s boring.  It’s relaxing.  It’s dull.  It’s great.  I usually get a fair amount of homework done in those otherwise empty hours.

For a few minutes this afternoon, we were short a worker, and a two-year-old boy sat on my lap as I manned the desk.  I dug through the pile of books in the office and chose When I Grow Up by Kay and Harry Mace to read to him as we waited for his mom.  The young boy could not have cared less about that book.  I, on the other hand, was engaged.

Christopher, the kindergarten-aged protagonist of the book, is often asked what he wants to be when he grows up.  He, like me, enjoys many things.  He could be a police man and patrol the streets on a motorcycle.  If he was a family doctor, he would use a stethoscope.  As a cowboy, he would get to ride a bucking bronco.  Or he could be a fireman.  Or a carpenter.  Or a circus trainer.  Engineer.  Fisherman.  Business man.

“Fiddlesticks!”  Christopher finally proclaims.  “I want to be everything that’s fun!”

In the end, Christopher’s aunt again asks him, “Do you know yet what you want to be when you grow up?”  Christopher makes the right decision.  “When I grow up, I will tell you.”  He says, “Right now I want to be a boy because then I can make believe I am anything I want.”

It seems that I struggle daily to determine what I want to do with the rest of my life.  Do I want to be a teacher?  Photographer?  Baker?  Nutritionist?  Entrepreneur?  Graphic designer? The possibilities are limitless.

For now, though, I am just going to be a college student because then I can learn to be anything I want.