Monday, March 3, 2014

Things I Learned Thus Far In Student Teaching

Hey friends!

I hope y'all are having a great weekend!  Here in NJ we're prepping for Snowpacalypse March 2014  Snowfailpacalypse March 2014.  We got a pretty solid 2 inches.  Rock on.  School was cancelled today.  Not TCNJ though.  I'm being a big brat about having to go to class tonight.  I'm being a brat because Snow Prep at Casa de Kitley includes:  wine, vodka and cranberry, plenty of veggies to juice, and enough Nutella waffle fixins to last through the storm.  We also have BBQ Chicken Chili in the crockpot!  We started this Snow Day and Soup tradition and I don't hate it!


Anyway, while I prep for my last week in my current classroom, I've realized I learned a whole lot.  A lot about teaching, best practices, people, working with educational assistants, the way school works, and students.  I feel like I went in green.  Like really green.  Like hunter green.  Now I feel like I'm lime green.  Still very very green, but not so jaded and not as green?  Still, VUURRRYVURRRY GREEN.  Here are a list of things I've learned thus far.

  • When you don't know what you're doing, just ask.  Trust me it's so much easier to just ask your coop then try to figure it out on your own.  Whether it's a question about the lesson, a student, a therapy session (a student's not yours :)), principal, inner workings of schools, parents, anything.  Just ask.
  • Watching The Bachelor helps you bond with co-workers.  Trust me, pick a favorite girl and just chat.  It's a tension breaker, a common ground, and a relief.  It also makes you sound more human.  Side Note-wait until someone brings it up first.  You don't wanna seem like a crazyfangirl...luckily everyone at my school is super nice and awesome and naturally, they watch the show, so they're awesome people.
  • Don't be a robot.  I am so guilty of this.  I'm the type of person who needs to warm up to people. Sometimes this comes off as robotic.  Think of it as going to the pool and walking into the water using the steps.  Don't jump in like a crazy person because you will most likely end up stepping on toes or squishing someone, or splashing someone.  No, no, no, don't do that.  Walk in.  Take a step, then when you have warmed your ankles up, move down.  Warm up those calves.  Take another step.  Warm the upper legs (I can't say thighs because it's one of those words that freaks me out.  Like how some people can't say panties?).  Keep going until you are fully immersed.  Take your time.  You don't have to go by your college's guidelines.  
  • Do not wear heels.  I would like to personally smack all the Pinterest Fashionistas who pin "cute teacher outfits" or "would wear that to work" outfits featuring 4 inch heels.  No.  Wear your flats ladies.
  • You will leave ST a much better person than when you walked in. Sure everyday you will leave exhausted, but you will also leave a more patient, caring, warm, emotionally stable, genuine, loving, and generous human.  Your little kiddos will change your heart, as Wicked said, For Good.  The first time one of your students hugs you, you will reevaluate and realign your priorities.  
  • You'll know how to put together the countless acronyms, reading jargon, literacy circles, classroom management tricks, lesson plans, pretty much how to run your classroom with the efficiency of a general, grace of Jacqueline Kennedy, and the love of Mother Theresa.  Pretty much all the necessary stuff they don't teach you in school.
  • Empathy.  You bond so much with your kids that you develop a superhuman ability to care for another person.
  • The world doesn't revolve around you.  Your kids come first.  
  • Fashion takes a backseat to comfort.  I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SAY THIS.  You need to be able to move your tush at a moment's notice.
  • Colored denim saves your life.  Seriously.  I wouldn't have made it through my practicum while looking cute if it wasn't for colored denim.  These pants are cute, casual, comfortable, but still not blue jeans.  AKA a way to beat the dress code system.  Clearly I'm putting my college education to good use.  
  • Your reality is not reality.  Your childhood is not their childhood.  Every child comes from a different place and it is your job to take yourself out of the equation and stop comparing.
  • Teacher assessments are inane and ridiculous.  Especially in special education.  
  • Holding a teaher's manual for the first time (with actual human students not American Girl Dolls and various stuffed animals) will make you feel like your dreams are coming true.  
  • Have confidence in your self and your abilities.  No you are not going to be even a smidgen as good/qualified/able as your co-op, but you do have a skill set.  You have ability to be great.  Don't psych yourself out, don't doubt yourself, believe that you one day will possess the magic that your co-op does.  That one day your lessons will flow seamlessly, you will be as cool as a cucumber, and never have a ruffled feather (or at least develop the gravitas to hide your imperfections better than you do now).  
  • Don't take things too seriously or too personally.  
  • Be gracious.  Write thank you cards.  Use your manners.  These will get you far not only in ST but in life.  
  • Visit related services sessions and special area classes when you can.  I got to see OT, speech, music, art, and gym.  Sometimes as newbies we hear about OT/Speech/Art/Music/Gym but we don't exactly know what goes on there.  It's like Oz.  Take this opportunity.
  • Meet the principal.  This is important on a million levels.  First, they should know who is in the school and who is working with their students.  Also, you want the principal as a contact.  They know more principals and you want this network.
  • Smile.
  • Think Dori:
  • ENJOY YOURSELF.  Yes this is a stressful time, yes you're exhausted, but this is a magical time.  You're learning and you're this close to having all your dreams of being a teacher come true. 
Yay for student teaching!  Boo for one more week with my kiddos.  Yay for snow days.  Boo for only 2 days left until I give up sugar for Lent.  



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