Reflection #1

October 2, 2007 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Note: this is my first 30-hour reflection for my teaching internship. It’s about thirty hours overdue at this point – same as everyone else in the program – because we’ve all been too busy learning to write about it. 🙂 Hence, the apparently abandoned blog. Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts on the start of the year, to kind of catch the blog up so that I can move on from here. I’ve changed all the names and everything, of course.

This thirty-hour reflection is a bit overdue, and the only excuse I have is that I must be having fun, because time sure seems to be flying! In an attempt to rectify my tardiness, I’ll try to focus this reflection on the beginning of my year, and then catch up in the second reflection. 

When I started out at CHS, I felt like I had trouble getting my footing. I hadn’t been at the orientation meeting and didn’t know how much information I’d missed, and my natural worrywart tendencies were having a field day. Maybe my experience was utterly typical with its whirlwind of uncertainty: was I in the right place, doing the right thing, wearing the right clothes, meeting the right people? The cologne-heavy hallways weren’t the only thing at CHS filled with chaos and confusion, if ya know whadda mean. 

After a week or so I began to feel like I was getting my sea legs. I no longer felt quite so out of place or in the way, and I began to contribute to the class in small ways. Among other things, I worked with small groups, took attendance, recorded grades, helped in the computer labs, and even got some time at the front of the classroom. 

Meanwhile, of course, the worrywart machine was still chinking away at my confidence. Now it was anxious about my progress in comparison to my cohorts’. Both of them were working near full time in the schools, as substitutes and (although maybe not this year – Dan?) paraprofessionals. On MWFs when I was working on the college campus, they were completely taking the reins for their classes. After talking to a couple of different people, I no longer feel quite so concerned about this – the three of us didn’t start out from the same place, and we’re not going to be the same kind of teacher necessarily, and we’ll all progress at somewhat different paces. There’s no point in holding myself accountable for unavoidable perceived disadvantages – I just need to trust that neither I nor my mentor and supervisor will lead me astray. 

My mentor, DR, and I turned out to be what I’d classify as a really good fit. We have similar comfort levels when it comes to productive classroom chaos, and for the most part really compatible with our teaching styles. I’m really counting my blessings that I am getting to work with Dianne for the next several months. Not only is she a master teacher, but as the department head and someone involved in education at a wider level in the community, she has a lot to show me. And I certainly can’t complain about having four periods of accelerated English. I do know how unlikely it is that I will be able to teach accelerated classes in my rookie years, and I hope that I am learning the necessary classroom management and motivation skills for regular classes. I feel as though my work with her regular period, and occasional work with other teachers’ regular and modified classes, that I’m picking up those skills.  

Within a few days I began to get to know some of the students and to gauge the personality of each class. There are students who immediately caught my attention: Ramona with her unusual background and sense of style; Stuart with his air of a much older young man; Frank with his blustery, brilliant authority; Amber, hiding in the back hoping no one ever notices her or asks her a question; Damon with his stubbornly blank page; Gerry with his obnoxious jibes against other students; Misty, who sits near the front in the 10-R class but engages at an accelerated English level. Second period was the hardest, each student stoically resolved to neither smile, talk, or react. Fourth period brought in a handful of band kids straight out of marching practice, and with them a much higher decibel level. Fifth period – not only the 10-R class, but right after lunch.  

Sophomores, I realized, are in a funny stage of their life. In certain ways they are still so young. Everything they believe – and they believe it with vehement passion – they believe because their parents told them. And on the other hand, they were almost-but-not-quite adults, surprising in their occasional bursts of maturity and ingenuity. Months ago, when I learned I’d be in a high school rather than a junior high, I was disappointed. I’d wanted the experience of working with kids in transition. I’m not disappointed anymore – I’m exhilarated. Tenth grade is a transition year in so many ways, and I’m just soaking it up and trying every minute to figure out how best to guide them across the bridge. 

The last thing I think I’ll add to my “first thirty hour” reflection is that in the first weeks of school, the relationship between DR and the students seemed a little delicate. They didn’t quite know who she was or whether she (or I, for that matter) was trustworthy. They certainly didn’t seem to be loving class as much as I would have expected, given the “alumni” of the class who hung out during breaks, lunches, after school hours, and even during class from time to time. These older students were so dynamic, so confident, and so convivial with DR. I could tell that these students had loved her classes, had learned from them and grown, and become their teacher’s friend. How did this happen? Was it happening with this year’s class? And what mysterious magic occurred between tenth and twelfth grades to make these fragile, blindered seekers transform into carefree, self-assured adults?


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

I am striving to maintain anonymity on this blog so that I may more freely interact with my fellow edubloggers. If you know who I am, please help me protect my anonymity in your comments. I use pseudonyms or initials for everyone I write about to preserve their anonymity as well.

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