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Reflecting on Student Teaching Intensives
My favorite part of my Student Teaching experience has been reaching my students who are scared to fail, afraid of being made fun of, or who are dealing with things far beyond their emotional capacity. I’ve learned so much in the past five weeks of intensives, more than I ever could have imagined. Last week was the end of my intensive period of my Student Teaching. I am really feeling sad this week as this seems to mark the beginning of the end. In reality, I have a month and a half left with my students, but my time with them seems to dwindle each day. It’s definitely making me appreciate the time I have left with them and appreciate how difficult it is going to be to say goodbye to students year after year.
During my five weeks of intensives, I facilitated a unit on The Giver that I created for my 8th-grade students. Overall, I think my most important takeaway from the unit as a whole is differentiation. I have learned what it truly means that each lesson must be tailored to the class. We talk a lot about differentiating instruction in our classes, but it’s not something I would say I really was able to fully understand until I was responsible for it. Even in my lessons previously, I haven’t really had the ability or reason to differentiate for students or classes. I lacked the important aspects of consistency and relationship. Teaching every day for five weeks made it necessary to grow my skills in this area and develop my understanding.
The Power of Failure
I feel like this semester more than any other, I have had the opportunity to fail and learn through failure. I have failed and learned from other teachers who have more experience and wisdom to share. It took me time to discover what my classes needed in order to succeed. I had to discover the amount of independence they each could handle, which took more time than anything else. I haven’t had any huge failures that will change my life or my students lives forever, but that is kind of the point. It’s safe to fail here, to need help, to listen to the advice of those who know more than I do and grow before it’s all on me. I’m grateful for the chance to try new things and realize that some things I always thought I would do may not work.
I am still learning the art of balancing my teaching and my family. Each week, I get better. Part of this has been showing my children what I do by explaining what I’m working on or bringing them to activities at the school where they can meet my colleagues and students. It has meant improving communication with my husband and relying on him to take on new responsibilities with the kids. As someone who loves organization and control in my work, it is sometimes hard to delegate and let others take the wheel. This experience has forced me to grow in this way.
I had to learn to not take their attitudes towards English personally. That was possibly the hardest part. English is a love of mine, and I have found strength in reading and writing throughout my life. I wish that I could impart that on every single one of my students. I do my best to do that every day, but I can’t make them feel something like that. We can’t force reading or writing to help them cope, and that is fine. For some of my students, English will be purely academic and for some, it will be something deeper. My intention will always be to help them see the possibility of power, knowledge, and comfort that lies in that deeper connection. Despite this, I know now that no matter how much I support, encourage, and teach, some students won’t fall in love with English.
Overall, my intensives experience was incredible. I feel unbelievably grateful for the on the job education I am receiving at my placement. I can’t imagine how hard it is going to be to leave them all.