Saturday, June 29, 2013

July Currently (It's almost July already!?)

Ok, here goes my second ever "Currently" courtesy of Farley's linky party!

Listening: to the whir of my ceiling fan. I just got back from a very productive (calorically speaking) trip to Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt. (Heaven in a cup, BTW), and now I'm enjoying some peace and quiet while blogging before I go to bed. 

Loving: that I don't have to work until 1PM tomorrow! I'm a lifeguard during the summer at a country club close to my parents house and I work basically full time, normally starting around 9ish in the morning. So, getting to sleep in on a Sunday before work will be a treat.

Thinking: about whether or not I want to read a few chapters in my book before I go to bed. I've been on a serious reading kick lately. During my college career I collected a ton of "pleasure" books (pleasure meaning they had nothing to do with child psychology or educational strategies) that I haven't had a chance to read, so I packed them all with me to hang out in NC for the summer. I'm currently reading "Paper Towns" by John Green. Already very good. 

Wanting: to be at KYC! I grew up going to church camp as a kid -- every summer for ten years I camped and worked as a teenager. Last year I went back for the first time in 5 years and worked for a couple of weeks. I loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones, but didn't have an opportunity to go back this Summer and I'm super sad about it. I loved being a counselor for the mini campers -- nothing quite like being responsible for a dorm room full of 20 seven year olds for a week!

Needing: to start shopping/organizing for my vacation! My mom and brother and I are going to Italy for ten days in less than three weeks. I have zero things prepared and a zillion things on my to-do list (not the least of which is continuing to fill out job applications in hopes of getting an interview BEFORE we leave...!)

Tips and Tricks: this one is a little tricky, no pun intended. I'm very new to the blogging world, so I don't necessarily have any advice to give on that front. So, I'll stick with this: never give your bank card to a fellow co-worker to run an errand for you. Even if you think he's a stand up guy. Even if you think he's not going to make any shady charges to your account. He will. Naivety got the best of me today. I'm a trusting person...what can I say. 

Alright, I guess that about does it! I'm loving reading all these "currently" posts from all my new blog friends!


Friday, June 28, 2013

A refugee from the land called student teaching

I had grandiose plans for this blog when I first created it. I was going to post on a schedule (bi-weekly, to be exact) about all the fabulous happenings in the land of student teaching, my cute teacher clothes, and present to you, my lovely readers (do I even have any readers….?) marvelous teaching strategies knowing full well you’d probably never use them. Well, obviously that hasn't happened — mainly because the land of student teaching was far less fabulous and much more stressful than I originally envisioned, filled with stacks of paperwork and presentations and a never ending pile of laundry. But here I am, a refugee from the aforementioned sleep deprived land with a renewed vision for blog posting (but admittedly I don’t have any “marvelous” strategies, so you can rest easy in knowing you didn’t actually miss anything on that front…) 

And now I should clarify that student teaching actually wasn’t that bad, it was just an intense learning experience. Not only did I have absolutely no idea what I was doing half of the time, I also had to write and piece together a rather large portfolio (which, in true Marshall University style, I wasn’t told about until the last minute), and then present it before a panel of professors and the dean of the COE. Throw in doing weekly reflections and preparing for visits from my university supervisors and I was swamped. Did I mention I was stressed?

My entire time in the teacher education program was spent believing that I wanted to teach high school. I gave no consideration to middle school, having already made up my mind that I was absolutely uninterested in going back to the drama-filled, early teenage years. My own were terrible enough and I reasoned that I was in no way capable of helping someone else navigate that onslaught of hormones! So, in January I started my first eight week placement at Spring Valley High School and I was very excited to be an almost real teacher. I even bought a cute lunchbox that very clearly said:  “I’m a fun, yet sophisticated teacher….” 

And then things turned ugly.

Every day I spent at Spring Valley I grew more and more discouraged. By the second week I was miserable. A lot of the stress came from the demands of my university supervisor and at the end of the day I just didn’t enjoy being in the classroom like I thought I would. I received hate notes and rude comments and quickly decided that I loathed tenth graders. Also, everything I did turned out to be a failure and I was extremely frustrated with myself. I cried almost every day (no, really...I did), and spent a lot of time questioning why in the name of Paula Deen I’d spent five years and twenty thousand dollars pursuing a career that in two weeks I’d already decided I hated. The real truth, I came to acknowledge, was that I had an attitude problem — a skewed view of what it meant to be a Christian teacher. 

I should probably stop for a minute and say that I’m thankful for the supportive and encouraging people that God placed in my life during that eight weeks (which by all accounts felt like an eternity) and I’d like to publicly apologize to all the shoulders I whined and cried on, while also publicly noting that I intensely hate The Scarlet Letter. (I will not apologize for that….) Seriously though, I was very blessed to have had a wonderful supervising teacher who encouraged me even when I totally failed at teaching a simple lesson, and who also kept me laughing in spite of the fact that all I wanted to do was whine. 

And then it came time for the dreaded middle school placement. And, this was me the night before my first day: 

I wasn’t sure I could handle another eight weeks of pure misery that was high school. So, I spent a lot of time praying for myself and for the people I’d be spending the next two months with — that God would change my attitude about this age group because ultimately I knew this placement wasn’t an option if I wanted to graduate. Once again, I felt truly blessed to have been placed with a fabulous supervising teacher (and really, this is a blessing because it seems like such a roulette game when it comes to assigning supervising teachers — they’re most definitely not all equal, but I digress…)

I won’t lie and say that by the end of the first day I was in love (I wasn’t anything except for exhausted), but by the end of the first week I wasn’t seeing the ugliness of this age group that I expected to encounter. I only saw precious pre-teens who desperately needed love and attention and a place to  “fit”. I prayed that God would change my heart and my attitude, and wouldn’t you know, he did (funny thing, prayer…) 

Not only did God change my attitude towards middle schoolers, but about my job as a teacher in general.  Again, I’m thankful for the teacher I had as my supervisor who exemplified everyday what it meant to be a Christian role model for her students. God used her to really show me that teaching is a ministry, and ministry isn’t about me. I’ve decided that teaching is not about test scores (well, it is...but it isn’t). It’s not about being comfortable, and it certainly isn’t stress free. It’s about serving. It’s about being Jesus’ love incarnate. This teacher came early and stayed late — she saw a need and she met it, whether it was visiting a sick student in the hospital or making sure that a student had dinner, clean clothes and a shower when his electricity was off because his mother couldn’t pay the bill. She took great time and care for each student individually, regardless of their situation. She made them feel important and showed them that they had worth. She loved. She ministered. 

It only took me about two days to feel completely ashamed of myself. Here I had just spent the last eight weeks complaining and whining about anything and everything because I was so stressed out instead of seizing the opportunity to really make a difference by simply loving my students and doing my very best to teach them to the best of my ability. 

Middle school was still stressful, and there was still paperwork and observations, I was still sleep deprived, and I still had a miniature mountain of laundry in the corner of my room...but I felt like I had a whole new purpose. I realized that it was because I prayed out of an honest heart for God to change my bad attitude, and he did because I allowed him to. I hate that I just couldn’t see my purpose when I was in my high school placement because I was too busy complaining about how much I didn’t enjoy it because it wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. I was too busy complaining to minister. Ouch. 

Maybe this seems like a really simple revelation … and on some levels it is. Ultimately when I decided to be a teacher I did so knowing that it I wanted to “make a difference”, but until student teaching I didn’t realize what “making a difference” looked like. Now I know what it looks like, and I know for sure that I want to spend the rest of my career being Jesus’ hands and feet. Making a difference. Ministering. Even when it’s stressful and even when it’s hard...because it's necessary, and it's worth it. 

In other news, the end of student teaching also meant graduation! I promise you that a happier graduate never existed. I also promise you that it was only by the grace of God that I actually made it across the stage...after five long years. 

For now I’m still an “almost teacher”, although I’ve applied for several middle school (and a few high school) jobs for the upcoming year. So, I hope that my next update will be filled with wonderful news of my own classroom and frantic lesson planning, so stay tuned! 

For now I'll leave you with some pictures from the last few months :)


I found this note from one of my students posted to my bag one morning -- so sweet!

I loved this so much -- with the help of my supervising teacher, all of my students (100+ of them!) wrote me sweet notes of encouragement and gave them to me on my last day.

Found Poems

9th period haikus

Matt and I -- graduating!