The Rest Of My Life

I sat down in the chair I had revisited time and time again this past semester. The light from my adviser’s office window was partially blinding me but I wanted to revel in the fact the sun was shining instead of change seats. It has been raining almost constantly for over a week and it felt as if the sky’s dirty, gray stain would never soften. Somewhere in the late hours of the previous night or surfacing this morning, the sky softened into the blue like that of bird’s eggs; a rich, acrylic blue that “looks unreal,” as I told my sister on our walk today. Today was the day I officially checked out of my college career and I felt the whole world–vibrant and alive; pulsing around me; stretching its arms and inviting me into this exhilarating new chapter of life.

I know how cheesy that sounds…maybe a little cliche. Regardless, it felt fantastical. I felt new.

When my adviser asked me “How was student teaching?” I laughed, as if I could answer this question with a neat little sentence, complete with a bow. My passionate nature drew me into overload, attacking the question from every angle; randomly switching to a new facet of the experience that reminded me of another facet and another until Anna centered me in a new question: “What are your strengths?”
After taking some time to reflect on and relay my strengths, she asked me “What are your weaknesses?” I told her assessment and classroom management were areas I wanted to particularly improve on.

It was then she told me she thought one of my weaknesses was “thinking too hard”; complicating things that don’t need complicating. I wanted to say “Welcome to my life.” That is a huge flaw of mine that I consistently battle with. Outside of teaching, I complicate life as well. I think this comes from a place that can’t accept life is simple. I don’t think I want life to be too simple. I consider myself to be complicated; composed from complex origins and many contradictory layers. Maybe this notion of mine, that “it can’t be that simple” cripples me. I do think too hard about entities that don’t need these labor-intensive brainstorms. Anna realizes this will cripple me in my teaching career and I’m grateful for her acknowledgement of this internal setback. However, I also enjoy this part about myself. My in-depth thinking-sprees are what propel my greatest art: whether that be my poetry or my drawings. I think it’s important to find value in all parts of yourself, even your flaws and simply realize you’re constantly in repair. I’m constantly seeking to be a better version of myself.

So, how was student teaching?
All in all, student teaching was a testament of my immense capabilities: in the midst of fear, feelings of inadequacy and continual lapses in confidence in myself and my abilities, I freaking nailed it. I experienced setbacks, I doubted my abilities, I told myself “I couldn’t do it” and yet, I did it. This personal achievement is so grand in my heart, I will take these gains with me for the rest of my life as reminders of my grit, my growth-mindset and my empowered heart. My heart is empowered through so much: Mostly God, my family and my boyfriend; the people whose faith in me never grows short.

What I learned:

I learned how hard it is to assess student learning
I learned the need to radiate confidence when I’m in the classroom setting
I learned how smart High School students are…in all types of ways, not just academic intelligence
I learned that I love to be over-prepared
I learned that students will take advantage of your compassion for them
I learned the need to balance asserting my authority in a class with portraying my compassion for each student
I learned that students misunderstand my expressions sometimes and to be careful with my facial reactions
I learned not to have more than one assignment to grade at once
I learned not to spoil my students by grading their assignments really quickly so they always expect that grading time frame
I learned to go through every part of a rubric with students before giving them the assignment, so they understand what they’re being assessed on
I learned that every student wants to be successful in the classroom but not every student will actually put in the effort to do so
I learned you can’t reach every student but you can try
I learned it’s okay to mess up
I learned that listening to my students was more important than talking to them
I learned that I know more than I thought
I learned I still have tons to learn

Those are the first lessons to come to mind 🙂

My adviser didn’t seem to want to talk as much as I did about my student teaching experience. It felt like she had a prior engagement and I was taking too much of her time. Maybe to her, wrapping up this ending with a neat bow was simple; a “Student teaching was good, I learned a lot” would have sufficed for her. To me, life will never be that simple, because I invest my heart and soul into my learning experiences and I don’t want that to change.

Walking home from her office, the stark contrast between sky and electric green coming off of the grass and leaves is almost blinding in its healthy glow, but I don’t want to shade my eyes from it. I’m walking into the rest of my life!

Peace and good vibes to all ❤