This past week has been a pleasant shift for me. I am feeling more efficient, more organized, and more confident. These feelings mean that, even though I struggle with things and have lessons that don’t go great, I am putting my energy into growing and learning rather than feeling bad about myself. Getting to this point has depended on many things. I am the type of person that needs quite a bit of time to fully warm up to new things; I think I’m finally there. I have a great support team in my cooperating teachers and faculty adviser. They make me feel safe to try things, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to hear the advice they give so that I can improve. Lastly, I think I have gained a better understanding of the whole process of designing a unit, finding ways to help students reach the learning goals, and reflecting on the process.
I still have fears that I’m not moving quick enough or that I will let my students down. At the end of the day, I know I’m giving it my all. I have to believe that that’s coming through. I have to believe that the progress I feel I’m making, is coming through. I hope that this new found peace continues and that I can grow even more quickly in this second half of internship. I believe the stumbling and nervousness that I felt in the first part of internship were necessary to go through.
As I reflect and consider what’s ahead of me, I feel slightly panicked at the thought of all of the content I am running out of time to get through. My first unit went over the original time allotment and I worry that Hamlet will too. I just hope it’s not by too much. My brain is going crazy trying to think about where I will be able to fit in all of the things I need to teach my students. And I think it will be many tries before I am able to get everything done in good time. I think time is a huge lesson. How can I crunch everything together, make it cohesive, make it interesting, and make it beneficial for students to learn? I think this will be the question I ask myself throughout my career.
These past weeks I have been feeling like the my goals have been foggy. I’ve been trying to make my goals for the unit and each lesson explicit, but it was only at the end of this week that I truly understood where I was going astray. I’ve been putting too much on my plate, I’ve been trying to connect to many ideas, and as a result, I’ve been lacking clarity. My new goal is to strip my ideas down and keep it simple.
I will be focusing on one goal and one big idea at a time. My cooperating teacher gave me the advice of setting three main goals and sticking to them. I think this will help with revising my plans for teaching Hamlet. I hope that this results in better and more thorough teaching on my part, as well as better learning for the students. I have been sensing confusion among my students, at times.
The other way that I would like to practice keeping things simple is too not get hung up on reinventing the wheel. One of the challenges I’ve been facing is making everything from scratch. I have to make the materials that students will use to guide their learning, materials to assess, and to differentiate the materials so I am not leaving the same learners out all of the time. This has been somewhat tiring. I have realized that everything can’t be a masterpiece and maybe for where I am right now some of the worksheets can be very simple.
I look forward to practicing keeping things simple in the next week’s activities. I will be looking to see the difference it makes in my students learning, in my energy levels, and the clarity of my vision. I am always searching for tips, advice, and information that can help me grow. As a new teacher the words of other teachers is something I’m constantly searching out, so please leave a comment.
…But I’m learning a lot.
I am. But I’m also bombarded with uncertainty, insecurity, and nervousness throughout my learning journey. There is a lot of work that goes into everyday. I’m adjusting and preparing resources for daily lessons and trying to figure out Hamlet at the same time. The best part of this journey is that I’m willing to fight for it, because it’s all I’ve ever wanted out of a career. The people make me happy to be where I am. However, I still wake up every morning afraid I’m not good enough.
This week, the most important target I’ve been working on is being dynamic and giving energy in the classroom to help build engagement. My confidence and energy waned as I was allowing myself to be consumed by negative thoughts. The first class that I actively tried to be positive and bring energy, was an amazing experience and made me feel better in just 55 minutes.
In addition to my classroom experience, the communications outside of the classroom have made a huge difference for me as well. The google community for English majors has been the greatest support system I could have asked for. The best thing for people going through difficult time, is to know that you’re not alone. The google community does that, but is also a space to gather ideas to help with my learning. That is also, why I wanted to include my mental state and emotional experience in this blog reflection. I want other interns to know that I will not be silent, so that they know that if they’re getting down on themselves they’re not alone.
Finally, I have taken this quote (shared by a fellow intern) to heart. I am only in the first month of a lifelong journey. There will be many failures and successes to come. As I learn, I will make my teaching better. Right now, I can only be my best self. This hit home after reading one of my students journal responses. The prompt asked them to consider how they’re reading of a story changed from when they read it with the reader response lens and then when they read it with multiple lenses (gender, social class, and postcolonial). The student said that he had reflected more on his thinking than the ideas in the stories. He said that he was questioning his judgement and, more or less, becoming more critical of common sense ideas. Lastly, he said that because of this, he was enjoying English class for the first time. How could I be so negative, when this was happening for some of my students? I might not be a master teacher, but I care and I can be there and do my best. From this moment it will be deep breaths in and out, long nights planning, but satisfaction knowing that learning is going on (on both sides).
… We’re learning a lot. AND we’re afraid sometimes. That’s life. That’s okay.