Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I've got a crush on teach...ing.

Yes, luckily no crush on teachers. I can imagine that might be awkward. But if you want to hear a clip from the song "I've Got a Crush on Teacher" by sixties girl group The Fawns, there's one available here. It details the angst of a girl who's got a crush on her high school teacher who does not return her affections (and won't, if he knows what's good for him!). Such a sad story of unrequited teen love.

That said, the point of my title is that I am enjoying teaching as much as I hoped and more than I expected. Who knew teenagers were so hilarious, and so great? I'm embarrassed to admit that the majority of my conversations outside the classroom are now about things that happen inside of it, even when it's not totally socially appropriate (like when I'm out for a drink with my roommates). It's just amazing the number of funny, poignant and profound things that happen and are said in a day inside an high school classroom. Usually, even when out on the town with my roommates, I can make whoever I'm talking to laugh about something I or one of my students said or did in front of the class, and if not, I can always crack myself up with a couple of stories.

The kids I get to teach amaze me regularly by being so open and thoughtful and honest. I think being around them so much has made me start to interact with the world a little differently because of it. Also, who knew that each kid would be so likeable? Even kids who I know I wouldn't have liked as a high school student impress me with the energy and personality they bring to the table. I'm sure in the future I'll have students I can't stand (I've heard that every teacher does), but right now I'm just in awe of the students I've got. I can't wait until May when I can devote the time I now spend on MAC assignments to planning and being even more fully in the classroom - the time I have spent after school with students this semester has been invaluable in figuring out how to teach them better and getting to know them as people with lives outside of school.

I'm also feeling really good about the ways in which I've grown personally and professionally in the last couple of months. The first few times I had to teach I felt so nervous that I made myself too nauseous to eat breakfast and my hands shook the entire time I was in the front of the class. I didn't have much confidence in my ability to plan or lead a lesson, or even in my knowledge of history. Over the last few months I have surprised myself a lot (mostly in good ways, sometimes in embarrassing ones, where I find myself saying things I never would have believed if you had told me a couple of years ago, mostly in regards to justifying why a student should do an assignment or sit and watch a movie). Even when I have been teaching in areas where I thought my content knowledge was not that deep, I have either been able to read up enough or pull bits of history from parts of my memory that I didn't know existed. Although I wouldn't say that I know how to teach at this point, I am satisfied with the amount of progress I have made student teaching thus far and have confidence that I'm on my way to becoming the kind of teacher I want to be. The learning curve is steep, but man is it worthwhile to make your way up it!

Lastly, I wanted to share something that Jeff Stanzler wrote in response to one of my posts about education philosophy. I was feeling particularly discouraged by the requirements of the program at the time, and was wondering whether teaching was something I was really cut out for (sorry English folks, that one's ending with a preposition). Since then I've frequently thought back to what Jeff said about "finding your own subjectivity," or what matters and works best for you as a person in a classroom. It casts teaching in a light that is much more exciting than the one I'd been seeing it in:

"In a perfect world there would be more time for that, maybe less for this, or maybe enough for everything. I'd like to get there, but whatever happens, you can't get away from the challenge of making *your* perfect world, or at least trying to reach for it even if you don't yet know quite what it is, or where to find it.
Agency brings its own complications, right? You've got to figure out what the answers are, and then figure it out again, and once more.
...and the cool thing is, they're going to pay YOU to figure all that out! Not a bad deal, eh??"

So, even if I have a year of subbing in my future (I'm tied to Ann Arbor) and the jobs aren't that plentiful at the moment, I'm glad that I'm heading into this endeavor of making a microcosm of my perfect world - what a daunting and inspiring challenge.


Jeff Stanzler said...

It's wonderful to read this, Chloe. My sense is that good energy begats more good energy (I think that I just wrote begat...I apologize to thee). You get the idea, though.
What I mean is that the students can tell that you're loving what your doing, and that you care a lot about them, and that you're interested in them. On top of that you're smart and creative. My guess is that they realize that you really want to be there with them, and that fact does a remarkable job at melting away resistance.
Congratulations on what you've accomplished, Chloe.

Stephanie V said...

Hey Chloe,

I know that this program can really do a number on your perspective on teaching. It can be hard sometimes because we get conflicting messages. I often feel like I'm being told what my teaching philosophy should be, yet still being told that I should be able to come up with one on my own. Although it's hard to deal with sometimes, I guess we just have to have faith that this is for a purpose and that we as teachers will be better off because of this experience. It was encouraging to read your thoughts in this post and I hope everything is going well.