Taking Care of Myself During Internship

the screamI am one month into my internship. I am being challenged and rewarded in so many ways everyday. I have worked out my first evaluation with my coop and it has given me specific areas to work at, which I am thankful to have. My targets are better for it and I think my growth will be greater as well. I am also coming to the end of my first unit. I have been reflective throughout and will write blog posts on specific reflections, but for this blog post I wanted to be reflective on my feelings and overall health. Everything is so fast paced that it can be difficult to think everything through and prepare myself the way I wish I could.

First of all, people aren’t kidding when they say schools are full of germs and thus people who work in them often get sick. I have been fighting a flu of some sort since the beginning of the school year. It sucks the energy out of me and makes the dreaded energy drinks necessary when I need to plan, but feel the need to nap. Fortunately, I have been healthy enough not to have to miss any school. I really do not enjoy making sub plans or coming back to class and not knowing where my students are at. Hopefully, I am able to stay strong enough to keep this up.

There is another illness I have been facing and working to remain healthy against. And the liminal space I currently occupy as an intern has made this a challenge for me as well. My anxiety continues to be a daily struggle, but one I have been able to stay strong against. However, there are days when my thoughts get the better of me and I have to work to remind myself that being overly critical of myself is not helpful. I work hard to think constructively, because that is all I can do with my “failures” or “weaknesses.”

Overall, I am thankful that I have a strong support system and many ways to find help when I need advice on ways to improve my teaching. While, learning and teaching are the main focus of internship. Taking care of myself is also necessary if I want to be able to be successful. I can do little with a tired mind, so I am doing what I can when I can to be proactive in staying healthy.

Internship – Coming Back to Class After Being Away

This past week of internship was greatly influenced by the three school days I was away for the internship seminar. By Monday it had been five days since I had seen my students. I wasn’t sure what the substitute had been able to get through and I wasn’t sure how my class received the work I assigned over the period of time I was away. This resulted in me feeling a discomforting sense of uncertainty throughout the week.

On Monday, I felt the least prepared I have felt so far. My anxiety had spiked and my confidence was shaky. I began the lesson asking my students what they had done and what they were uncertain of. I went over the two readings they had done and gave them class time to work on the assignments after going over them as well.

In the following days, I introduced our final literary lens – the postcolonial lens. I gave students notes and had them read the poem “Sure You Can Ask Me A Personal Question” by Diane Burns. This process went alright, but I still wanted to introduce Treaty Education and I felt as if my class still wasn’t fully getting colonialism and the importance of postcolonialism/decolonization in our society. I had my students watch part of “We Were Children” to foster a human understanding of what colonialism meant to real people and feel the injustice in it, so that they could see how it shapes our current society. I was starting to feel better after these lessons, as I had gotten my students to make deep connections.

By the end of the week, I was in great need of a break. All of my uneasiness set of by the usual worries, but also the uncertainty of having been out of the classroom for three classes had worn me out. The weekend has been a necessary break to recuperate and time to plan (an activity that never ends). In the next week, I hope to feel more secure in my plans. As I wind my first unit down, I look forward to the opportunity to try to work in some of my reflections on what worked and what didn’t in my next unit.

Two Weeks into Internship

This Friday is the end of my second week of teaching, during my internship. I feel an odd mixture of comfortable and stressed. I have been lucky to find myself interning at a school that I immediately felt comfortable in and with a cooperating teacher that I feel comfortable interning with. I also feel uncertain sometimes and under-prepared to jump into teaching this unit. However, I think that this experience is the best, and possibly the only way, to learn how to create and carry out a solid unit plan.

I have started my internship teaching an ELA B30 class. I have 22 students, the small size is helpful to get my feet wet in a manageable way, and for the most part they are receptive to the work that I have been trying to do with them. I opened up the semester with a writing assignment. I had my students write me a letter inquiring into my class. Reading them was so rewarding and gave me insight into what they want out of their education. I would do this assignment again. I found it more telling than the questionnaire I had them fill out. The other activity I am happy to be working on is using critical lenses to read course texts. Right now my students are reading short stories and poems, but we will also be reading Hamlet through a variety of lenses. I only wish it wasn’t taking me so long. I am constantly finding that I cannot go through material as fast as I originally thought.

As a teacher, I have already learned so much. I have learned that there really is never enough time to cover everything I want to. I have learned to get creative when it comes to creating assignments that fulfill curriculum requirements. When you have texts to get through, as well as 13 different writing forms, you have to figure out efficient ways to get work done. I have learned to be more organized. I have learned and practiced adjusting my instructional strategies. Finally, I have learned that I love group work as a way to get fruitful discussion going.

I am frustrated because I have a lot of theories and ideas that I would love to incorporate into my classroom, but will not be able to. Moreover, there are times I find my planning background to be much weaker than my theory background. I know what I want, but I have less skills to reach my goals. I am working on that everyday, but I wish I could have had more time as a student to work on those skills. I had a good discussion with my cooperating teacher, when she said that it takes time to get a clear sense of your vision and how everything will come together to reach your end goal. I have so many things I want to do, but right now I need to work on organizing what I need from the resources I’m giving my class.

At the end of the day, this internship is definitely quite a challenge. It is a challenge that I am up to and willing to fight for. I only hope that I can pick everything up as fast as I am required to and that I can feel more confident in my abilities as time goes on.