As I sit in the classroom on my last week of my first semester, I have come to a couple of realizations and a conclusion that I would like to hold on to.
I realized that I quit counting the days until this semester and this whole year long internship thing would be over. I am not sure when this happened, but I distinctly remember that for about the first month of being in the classroom I would come home and consciously count down the weeks until graduation. I think that I stopped doing this somewhere around the beginning of November. In the middle of November I quit being just a figure in the room, I believe that I began to develop a sense of purpose and realized that I did not have to be so stark and standardized with the students - that I was allowed to have a personality. This is what I needed. I need to be able to be a person in the classroom not just be there. Even though I was helpful before, I was just an assistant, not an individual. How could I encourage students to be themselves and be individuals when I was not expressing myself.
I realized that students whine about school but they love staying after. I realized that any time that a student is in a classroom of their own will in their own time is a good thing. Students might act a little crazier on their own time, but at least they are being constructive and being dedicated in a positive environment. I really enjoy working with students after school because it reminds me of how much I love it when things are less structured. By the time I had created a scheduled system with the students of snack time, homework time, writing time, they were really getting something out of our after school group. I understand how important it is for students to have constructive and safe free time at school. I also understand now, based on the students that always came, how important it is to provide the option of this time to those students who have less of a safe structure system at home.
I realized that I finally was able to get a system together for myself and still have a life. I do not spend every moment of my free time working on preparation for my classes or on my homework. I know that this program is supposed to be rigorous but it is not supposed to put its students into a state of rigormortis, six feet under a pile of papers (digital or conventional) and I think I have successfully challenged this and succeeded. I have time for my friends, I have time for myself, I have time for my students, and I have time for my work. And I never had a break down.
I realized that I am fifty percent finished with my first set of graduate school. It is incredible how quickly time is able to move by when you are having fun, when you are busy, when you have people are looking toward you, when you have people looking at you, and when you have people looking up to you. There is a serious amount of modelling and pressure and it just seems to make the job more fun.
I truly believe that I have a good understanding of what it means to be a teacher. If I were to summarize the experience down to a short sentence of what it means to be a teacher at this point I think I would say that it means to always have something ready, because you always have to be looking forward.
I would not change anything, because then I would not have my eyes forward.