Articulation. I never thought it would be hard to articulate something. Being somewhat adept at writing down thoughts or situations or stories, it’s a new challenge trying to articulate these thoughts — probably because they are unlike anything I’ve truly felt before and what’s more, probably because I am not quite sure how I feel.
Five weeks have come and gone. I was telling my sister that in one sense, when I think of the kids and the interactions I had in such a short time (and that I will likely never see them again), five weeks seemed to fly faster than I wanted or thought they would. But when I consider the work and the sleepless nights and being evaluated/observed and attempts to make sure every single lesson was creative and inspired and meaningful, five weeks dragged. “They” say student teaching is much more difficult than actually teaching… and I think the newness of it all coupled by the intense pressure to succeed made it a long and arduous process.
Then again, it was some of the best weeks of my life. My dear cousins Derek and Billy once made a rap song that referenced how long I have been in university and to be honest, amidst my laughter, I cringe thinking now that I am almost 25 and this coming September makes it year #7 in post-secondary. It has all been worth it though, to finally feel like I’ve accomplished something. Maybe that’s the new feeling I have — I have worked harder for this than anything, ever, and the reward of standing in front of a class, knowing I can do this (and do it well) makes it feel as though the last 6 years have flown by as well. It was a wildly successful and fulfilling practicum. Humbling, challenging, entertaining, and character building. I made a lifelong friendship with my mentor teacher while meeting kids that changed me in so many different ways.
What have I learned?
–every kid deserves a chance, especially the ones who’ve been given up on
-it is possible to have all 28 kids respond to me, it just takes a lot of patience, smiles, and positive feedback
-wake up every day as it is a new day, the day before can’t matter – especially if it was a bad one
–kids deserve much more credit, their intelligence at these ages is massively understated
-youth need responsibility – it shows them I trust them and it gives me a chance to see what they can do
-sometimes worldviews with staff/colleagues clash immensely, there’s little point getting emo about it – everyone is different
-they (kids) listen to everything, so much of their feedback to me is a direct result of a response to something I’ve said -therefore, I have way more control than I ever realized
–everyone wants to be noticed, sure makes a huge difference when you do
-high school drama should not be called high school drama —it’s insensitive for me not to care about it because it is the biggest thing in their worlds so to simplify it as drama makes me unfit for my job
-I’m so glad I enjoyed my own high school experience, it makes being back in it a lot easier to encourage and challenge these kids to dream and work hard and be their best selves
Among other things anyway. When I had my mentor meetings prior to starting, I was warned about a few key kids based on their older siblings or responsiveness (mainly, lack of) in class. I feel like I learned a lot when a couple of those same kids were the only ones to really make a point of telling me they didn’t want me to leave. One in particular, hugged me and said “Miss Stam, I think you’re the only teacher in this school who likes me”… and more of those comments happened all throughout my last day. Another sweetheart baked me some delicious snacks in his foods class only to come talk to me about his pro-skiing dreams and family during his 15 minute break.
The hardest part? Not the planning or the observations or the meeting kids or remembering all of them, all the time… it’s knowing that if I can feel this valued and this sad about leaving kids after five weeks, how will I survive a career of this? I haven’t laughed this hard or felt so worthy in my entire life. Do you know what that feels like? Now that I’ve tasted it, I can’t get enough of it. Like all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is make a difference, a positive one, in some small way… and teaching secondary school feels like the perfect way for me to do that. I have learned a deeper sense of humility, a high level of grace, a stronger transparency and honesty, and a weakened heart for all those kids whose shy smiles and bright eyes caught me every moment they finally got it and every moment that they tried.
I am blessed by the person God made me to be in preparing me for this career — I am in love with what I get to do, I am excited for the possibility of what this means. It makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something… such as a childhood dream of wanting to fly. I’m flying. And things look pretty cool from here.