While I was supposed to start my student teaching experience January 6, finals for the first semester weren’t until last week, so my two mentor teachers and I all decided to hold off until January 27, when the new semester would start. In the meantime, I did what any normal grad student-who-realized-five-months-ago-that-classroom-teaching-isn’t-her-thing-because-she-really-doesn’t-actually-like-dealing-with-people-but-it’s-too-late-to-quit-now-according-to-friends-and-family would do: slept and read books.
The rest of my classmates were frantically creating the perfect lesson plans within the perfect unit plans, complete with differentiation, and interactive learning activities. I, on the other hand, made a pot of coffee and got to work on Sandman Vol. 9 (which was excellent), followed by Dante’s Divine Comedy (which is not so excellent, and I have not, in fact, finished it because it makes me want to die — ironically, enough).
Last week was a hectic rush to get everything together — daily agendas, lesson plans, a working idea of what to do. Oh yeah, and reading the texts I’m supposed to be able to teach children by the 27th. AND printing out those damn handouts. Honestly, you don’t even have to spend a full two months student teaching to be an avid supporter of the paperless revolution. I have nightmares about the copier breaking down or running out of ink.
By the 26th, I was in a slight panic. I had everything mostly together, but I had wanted to be at least a couple of weeks into planning and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with the seniors on Tuesday. Luckily, (kind of) Chicago got hit with another arctic blast! The schools very kindly decided to shut down for two days, which has given me more time to sleep, read, and now blog.
I know I should be planning, and I even tell myself to get out from underneath my electric blanket to DO something. Or, at least, read the novel the seniors are reading so I have some sort of idea of what we’re supposed to be learning. But, in the end, I can’t bring myself to care all that much.
I’ll do it, of course, as I always do. I’m not going to show up to the classroom with nothing planned, but I don’t really see the point of making perfect lesson plans for perfect units. The kids will shoot it all to hell in a few minutes, either because I didn’t accurately predict how much they know, or it’s just one of those days when the entire class is tired, or it’s one of those days when the entire class has too much energy, or the heat isn’t working and everyone’s shivering, or the heat is working too well and everyone’s sweating because they’re stuck in sweaters and flannel-lined jeans. In any case, I’ve learned from observing that there is no way to be perfect. Especially not when that perfection hinges on the emotions, focus, and work ethic of 30+ teenagers who are forced to spend over seven hours a day, five days a week, sitting at desks and learning things most of them won’t even remember in a few years.
But for all my complaining, I do like most of the kids. While I’ve come to realize that I just don’t have the patience for matching standards to lesson plans and trying to make everything engaging, student-centered, and relevant to current educational theories, I’m still going to make the most of this experience. If anything, being in charge of 30+ teenagers on a daily basis is going to really strengthen my authoritative skills.