Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Blogger

My friend Jeanette Schill is graduating from the University of Mobile this Spring with her B.A. in Secondary Education-English. She posted this earlier today on Facebook, and with permission, I am sharing it with you simply because she is where we all will be very shortly (if we are lucky!). I know she was stressed quite often during her internship, but at the end of the day, she still feels like teaching is where she belongs. Good teachers aren't made, they are called. 
From Jeanette Schill

I'm a week away from finishing my student teaching.
Here are some things that I've learned along the way. Some I knew and believed; others have really just been driven home along the way.
  1. Certain students will always try your patience. You just have to learn to deal with it. It's probably just an aspect of their personality that they can't control.
  2. Be prepared to spend your own money.. perhaps lots of it.
  3. Your students may not always listen, but they SEE everything — actions speak louder than words.
  4. You have to be prepared for anything to happen during school. I’ve sewn shirts, written out study guides because a computer froze, and completely revamped a lesson 5 minutes beforehand.
  5. I learned that you can survive on very little food because you're not thinking about how hungry you are until you're finally still.
  6. Keep any copies that you make in a separate folder for students who lose theirs. If you see you only have one left, make some more copies. It's a lifesaver.
  7. Believe in your students even if they don’t believe in themselves.
  8. Let the students know that you are not infallible—be comfortable enough with yourself that you can admit when you do not know an answer and that you are willing to learn with your students.
  9. Classroom management-- Ok, so I got an entire course on it… It wasn’t enough, and I didn’t get to practice them early enough. All the plans assume that the students care about grades and success and getting in trouble, many don’t, so the strategies don’t work.
  10. I learned how strong teachers' bladders can be!
  11. I learned to compromise with my kids at times, and found that you must make sure that students have technology before you assign something that requires it, or make arrangements to provide them with time at school.
  12. I learned that students react differently to teachers who don't worry so much over things like what color their shoes are. Students not only did their work but got it in early.
  13. I knew this but I really learned how important planning is. The kids know when you haven't.
  14. I wish I had known how much it would hurt when a student you have grown to care about blatantly lies and stabs you in the back. I had to learn not to take things so personally.
  15. I found out how easy it is to frustrate a parent, especially a concerned one. You really have to work and word things carefully. The smallest little incident in class can come back to haunt you.
  16. I wish that someone had told me how complicated makeup assignments and absences can be when you have 120 students all on different assignments. You have to learn how to give that fatal zero, and devise a system that makes students more accountable for their own work.
  17. I wish that someone would devise a new curriculum that would help students develop vocabulary and force them to read. It's the biggest problem with their performance across the board, even in other classes.
  18. I wish I had known that counting to 3 actually still works as a means of disciplining 10th graders, and that how much they actually hate seating arrangements can work to your advantage. Raising your voice only works for a few minutes and you're back to square one.
  19. I learned how to adapt when technology crashed, which it often did, and how to be versatile when classes end up a day or so behind each other. I learned that you can't cover every single thing that you plan to cover.
  20. I learned that kids can't be 100 percent quiet, and that it really can't be expected. A buzzing classroom is an awake classroom!!
  21. I learned that you come up against tons of controversial and often ridiculous policies handed down from the central office that you just have to deal with.
  22. I learned to compromise with my kids at times, and found that you must make sure that students have technology before you assign something that requires it, or make arrangements to provide them with time at school
  23. I learned that you can't grade 120 papers the same way that you would grade 20. I had to learn to be less focused on minute details and more focused on the overall picture. It took me entirely too long to grade one paper.
  24. I found out that if you make an entire PowerPoint of warm-up activities ahead of time, you can just turn on the projector and go to work on something else.
  25. Forget the adage, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” Smiling and demonstrating a sense of humor will not compromise your authority. You may be the only adult who smiles or greets an individual student warmly today. You may never know the importance of those smiles or other expressions of caring.

And finally, I wish that someone could express how wonderful it feels at the end of the day when you remember that one student who looked at you with sincerity and a real longing for knowledge when you least expected it. I wish that someone could define that sparkle when kids actually connect with something you're saying or doing. Teaching is such a wonderful profession, no matter the problems that we encounter.

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