So I’m 3/4 of the way through my first year teaching 7th graders at a middle school in suburban Oregon. It’s been difficult at times and at others quite delightful. Some students have come to say that they like me and others dread being in my classroom (sometimes it is mutual). Teaching is a struggle and a joy.
I never imagined myself as a teacher. I grew up the oldest of four children, always was the smarty pants in class, and was the biggest teacher pleaser of them all. But, when it came to doing things like babysitting or teaching a Sunday school class, well, who had the patience to deal with all the frustrations of interacting with immature students? In fact, I was getting paid to give flute lessons to a young lady when I was in college and I finally told her mom that she was wasting her money on the lessons because her daughter wasn’t practicing and didn’t seem interested in pursuing playing. I never saw progress from one week to the next, so essentially I quit.
Well, along came my life, 6 kids and a mortgage. I was able to stay home to be with the kids through their formative years (I even home schooled the eldest up until 6th grade. I must touch on that later), but as the youngest approached kindergarten age, my husband and I decided I needed to return to school and get some more skills to bring in a second salary.
I’m not sure how I got pulled into getting an MAT now, but, since I had had children of my own and matured a little, I came to realize how much I enjoyed making learning accessible to them. Watching the wonder on their little faces as they encountered a new thing in this amazing world was priceless. I believe that I hoped I could do the same for other’s children.
Now, elementary just wasn’t my game so I focused on secondary: middle and high school. My background from my bachelor’s was in Biology so I figured I would earn my certificate to teach science and basic math. Going back to school was awesome. I have always loved learning so this was my thing. At Pacific University the class sizes were small and the cohort worked together very well. Reading research papers, listening to lectures, writing lessons and collaborating with my fellow future teachers was a blast.
Then came the actual work in the actual classrooms. I wrote pie in the sky lessons with all of these cool activities. When it came to implementing them the response from students was mostly disappointing. My enthusiasm wasn’t enough to draw them in. Behavior problems abounded. Achievement was not what I had expected. That was the beginning of my inner reflection on whether I should have stuck with my younger self’s aversion to teaching.
I am an introvert. Time spent by myself is essential to my being able to function fully when I am with others. I think that introvert teachers have a much harder time with students who aren’t the best fit for our classrooms.
This year has been hard. I think there are several reasons for this. One, it is the first year at this school teaching science to 7th graders. Two, I have to teach two classes in Spanish, and three, I still haven’t figured out how to manage the classroom smoothly and efficiently.
Hopefully as I blog out my thoughts and musings here I can reflect more on my practice and find positive ways to improve myself and be the best teacher I am capable to being for my students.