I have been teaching at a self-directed outreach centre since February 2015 and I have learned a few things along the way. Most of these things are obvious to most people but I am a bit of a slow learner sometimes.
1. Parents can be your greatest allies and your greatest enemies. Learn as quickly as possible which ones are which and deal with them accordingly.
I called a parent to let them know that their son hadn’t been in lately and when I called him he said he had said that he left his last few assignments at the cottage. Her response? “I’m sorry but that is a crock of shit! He hasn’t been to the cottage in the last two weeks and I will be calling him to attend asap.” She has been a wonderful ally and a great motivator for this particular student.
I called another student’s home to let them know that their assignment was late but that it was ok (we are super flexible) and that if she needed any help she could give me a call or email. I also mentioned that we had an upcoming test and asked her to call me as to when she would like to write it. Super chill right? Apparently not. The momma called me back and ripped me a new one.
2. Admin Staff are your greatest friends. I befriended the admin and printer (?) staff at my practicum school and they were pivotal to my success in the printer room (where I spent most of my mornings). At the outreach center I have become friends with our Admin staff member with whom we only get to see 3 days out of the week. She mentioned to me that often new teachers would become friendly with the admin staff but then would drift away once they became closer friends with their fellow teachers. I am going to make an effort not to let that happen.
Looking all “teachery”
What an amazing practicum. To be brutally honest I was dreading the 9 weeks of teaching but it turns out that I was set up with an amazing mentor teacher with whom I bonded easily. She is this gem of a teacher who instantly takes students who are willing to learn under her wing. She didn’t give me too much work too early and she was also extremely helpful whenever I seemed to have a heavy workload. Unless I protested she would instantly start marking tests for me, which was a huge help for me. She allowed me to try new things with the students such as different test types (primarily getting used to scantron sheets), and learning faster marking methods. I learned the scantron machine is a liar and had to re-mark 70 tests by hand. I learned scantron sheets are actually amazingly easy to mark by hand if you use a transparency with the answers blotted out.
I came to enjoy the class normally known as the trouble-makers and found that even though I was hard on many of them they still greeted me in the hall and gave me big hugs when I left – more so than the classes that I was more lenient with.
I learned that teaching is a delicate art – knowing when to do certain things, how to phrase specific statements and when to give tough love – all in the name of helping students to become mature and resourceful adults.
I think the tough love was the hardest thing for me to learn. I so badly wanted to tell so many students that it was ok they forgot that there was a quiz today, they could write it tomorrow. But I learned that no matter how much time you give a student, they will still be as ready as if you didn’t give extra time. Many students don’t take advantage of knowing about tests/quizzes beforehand. Many walk in and discover the quiz despite me telling them a week ahead and reminding them before the weekend, and sending a text reminder on Sunday afternoon. I had to learn that there is nothing more I can do to help them but let them suffer the consequences of having to write a quiz without studying beforehand. Experience is the best teacher and I had to realize and hope that their uncomfortable experience with that quiz would teach them to be better prepared.
My mentor teacher was so wonderful. I had heard negative things from her students but I know that they just don’t value her tough love and that those students just want an easy ride. They will find that to be successful in future endeavors they will need to put in the same effort as to be successful in my mentor teacher’s class. Students who put the work in and succeeded also seemed to be proud of their work.
I am both excited and nervous about being a new teacher. I have heard that the first few years are an uphill struggle during which many fail and choose a new career. I am afraid of that happening due to the fact that this was my second career choice and I am financially unable to try another career path. I loved interacting with students and other teachers and I also loved watching the students perform or show off their knowledge and hard work. But being a student-teacher was hard hard work. I have never worked so hard in my life to get things marked, make lesson plans, create lectures, make new assignments, input marks, input attendance, etc. I just felt that I worked my buns off and sometimes even when I thought I was covering all my bases on lessons I would find huge gaping holes when teaching. I did learn one very important thing, however, and that is priority. I believe that by learning to prioritize things I was able to almost tread water. I prioritized getting lectures and lesson plans done and out of the way so that during the week I could focus on marking and getting student work back. And by realizing that all humans have different priorities I was better able to understand why some students would skip my class to get other assignments done. Informing students of priorities also helped to make the picture clearer for them if they were trying to make an important decision.
All in all, it was a 9-week whirlwind. At week 2 I felt like I had been there as a student-teacher for years and then at week 9 I was so exhausted and ready for a break that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself when I did have one.
Posted in General
Tagged AFX, APT, education, high school, practicum, preparedness, quiz, school, student, student-teacher, teach, teaching, test, tough love, work
I wrote my second last final exam of my degree. Technically I was under the impression that it was my last one but recently received news that I have one last math course requirement to complete. I Schmidt want to blame my student advisor because of a lack of attention to detail but I’ve already completed a degree so I should have been able to pay more attention.
Today I am meeting my mentor teacher. She will be loaning me her high school students for the next 9 weeks so I can practice being a teacher. I’m anxious and excited. I’ve heard good things about the school and relatively good things about teaching high school students.
This is my kitty, Hieroglyph (Hiero). Helping me study and catching a fly that got in through the balcony door.
*touches eye then stops* Bad! Don’t touch mucous membranes! So many people in my classes are sick. As terrible as it sounds, every time they cough or sneeze I remind myself not to touch my eyes our mouth. Or face in general. I’m a biology major and I have watch Contagion. Scary shit!