I have a personal life! A few short months ago I had forgotten that I had a professional life, and now I've gone the other way. I don't know why I go to extremes (insert Billy Joel song track here). The past few weeks have been pretty nuts, and the next few look like more of the same.
I don't know whether to write about the excitement of our personal/adoption life, or the ups and downs of student teaching. At any given moment I feel like I might burst into tears on either account. Yesterday was an amazing test for me and I'm not so sure I passed. It was an afternoon that I will never forget. Enough suspense?
Yesterday afternoon I taught three middle school classes a capella. It was terrible. It was the first time that I totally understood why some people quit student teaching. I am still getting over it, and even today I still tear up thinking about it. I want to teach them music. I didn't sign up to be a babysitter.
Up until now I have received a lot of positive feedback about my positive and encouraging demeanor as a teacher. I feel comfortable in front of a class and I seem like Amy when I watch it on video (it's painful anyway!) I flew solo for the first time on Tuesday afternoon with a 6th grade fine arts class. I was not prepared for this, as I did not remember being informed that I would be in charge of class that day. I felt pretty good about it! Not great, but OK. Later I received a comment from my cooperating teacher that the theater teacher, who was in the room as I taught, said that I was more soft-spoken then than they were, and that I might want to be more whatever. Granted, I am a sensitive person, but that made me feel bad. I am me, not someone else.
I know I need to be firm and consistent. I know I am not the students' friend, that I am their teacher. But I'm sorry, I am not an authoritative, stern person. Teaching that way seems ridiculous for me, because I would be pretending.
But pretend, I did. And it stunk. I had the worst time. I sent a kid to the office, after I would not let him go to the nurse. I gave out warnings, raised my voice, and did not keep my poker face on. The students did not know what hit them! For that part I am glad, because I know they expected me to let them do anything they want. Do they think I'm stupid? Like telling me they like my outfit, or telling other students that they love me is going to cause me to let them get away with terrible, disrispectful classroom behavior?
One student raised her voice to me because she did not want to sit on the front row like the classroom teacher wanted her to, and as we had discussed the previous day. I told her that she needed to follow directions and she threw her purse on the floor! I gave her a stupid warning. How could I not? How inappropriate was that behavior? Another student remained seated when I asked all the students to stand up, then looked at me with this defiant look. She had done the same thing the previous day when I asked her to sit in the front row with every other Part 2 singer in the room. What defiance! Others talked endlessly, but by that time I had already given out three stupid warning slips, one detention, and one freaking trip to the office. Are you kidding me?
So today I keep crying. It's heartwrenching. They have such potential, and so do I. Nobody got to live up to it during Nightmare on 8th (period) Street. I am so frustrated with myself for not commanding the students' respect without being the prison warden. (Tears starting back up again). I like those hateful kids. (I had written "love," but come on, do not let me get carried away here.)
I've just been dying to talk about this with someone, but the last thing I want to hear is an experienced teacher with a no-nonsense, strong personality giving me the "pep-talk" about how I have to be strong, blah blah blah like I don't know that. I know that. I know I'm not their friend, I know I have to be firm, I know I have to start out being more strict than I may end up being after earning the students' respect. I know they are middle schoolers and are supposed to stretch the limits a little bit, that they are learning to think for themselves, that it's not personal, etc., but that just doesn't make it all better right now. I am disappointed in myself and I am disappointed in them.
By the way, 6th grade choir, 6th period was great. I don't even remember if I handed out any wardenings - I mean warnings. I hate those things.
So tomorrow I am back to the Texas Music Educator's Conference in San Antonio. I went down this morning and came back to teach piano lessons. It was so nice not to have to teach today. I don't know how it would have gone after yesterday. I will be ready to go back on Tuesday, but in the meantime it will be nice to have a few days off among other educators who have been through this student/novice teacher thing. It's lovely to see and hear conscientious middle school choirs perform during breaks.
I don't even have time to think about our adoption interviews on Monday!