(Mid-student teaching reflection)

I am okay.
I am learning.
I rise to the challenges presented to me.

These are the first thoughts that come to mind through a quick and general reflection of student teaching thus far. I began student teaching on the 9th of January and it is the 24th of February. I am tested every single day; that is, my confidence in my abilities, my authority, my care for people.
I am so afraid that in asserting my authority, students will lose the sense of care and compassion I have for them. I am being assessed everyday by the individuals at their desks and I don’t know what they say in hushed or bold tones when I’m not around. I don’t want to be disliked. I don’t want to be hated. These are literally my worst fears and I’m facing them daily. I feel my heart-rate begin skipping as I read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud and incorrectly pronounce 10 words, or pause at the wrong moments; so certain I am screwing up their comprehension by the second. Yet, I do it and I don’t die.

This is one of the greatest things I’ve learned so far and it was sweet, simple advice thrust upon me by my cooperating teacher:

“If _______ doesn’t happen are you going to die?” Ms. Mack asked me one day.
“No…” I said, with newfound clarity.

If a student blames you for their bad grade, are you doing to die?
If you can’t get your words out right during a class, are you going to die?
If you don’t get that paper graded, are you going to die?

No! I’m not going to die! How exciting is that? I get to keep living through terrifying upon embarrassing upon sad, frustrating experiences. I get to keep living. How can I complain when I’m given so many opportunities to grow and learn and affect people (ANYONE) in a positive way? I can’t complain, because I’m not going to die, I’m just going to get better.
It’s taken me so long to feel this confident about life’s continuous chucking of curve-ball challenges into my vicinity and I see the fear in students when faced with their own curve-balls. One of those challenges being school and/or learning taking place in a classroom.

Who knows, whether it’s fear of failure, fear of less time spent with friends, fear of a specific image or loss of an image, fear from other aspects of life acting as distractions in the classroom…students act on this fear everyday in response to the challenges presented to them in the classroom. Fear of a challenge, I understand completely. When a challenge backtracks me to the dreaded “fight or flight,” best believe I am considering how I may fly away from the entire situation. When I wasn’t sure if I could be a teacher, I texted my friend, the business major, to beg he take me aboard when he starts his own company. I even began thinking about my own app idea. I wanted plan b’s, c’s, d’s to z’s; I was terrified. Students don’t understand that sometimes you can’t just fly away. Life won’t permit it. But most importantly, those places where we’re truly tested are what shape us; in other words–

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Jalaluddin Rumi

And so, I wish students wouldn’t fight it so hard:
they fight High School with everything they have: wearing blank stares like armor. following directions seems synonymous with agony. My questions are received as DAGGERS; the sting sets in following locked eye contact…hehe, I’m exaggerating.

But, I mean it. We all have to do things we don’t want to do. How do I tell them it takes more energy and perseverance to resist the learning? How do I tell them to let go of qualms about education and simply open themselves? They are required to be in the classroom, so how do I convince them to make the most of it? Still have not figured this out.

And so now, it is the 28th, because I wrote this over a few days. I have just written up my first student and it doesn’t feel too good. The pieces aren’t exactly falling together and I fight little battles every day; however, at least I fight.
I am okay.
I am learning.
I rise to the challenges life presents me with.
I won’t die.

Peace and good vibes to all.