Be all that you can be. Find your future--as a teacher.

Musings of a second-year teacher.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Don't have high expectations, and you won't ever be let down.

I want to have high expectations.

Ever since I started school, I have adored playing the part of the teacher. I set up an entire school room in my basement and scoured Goodwills for old textbooks. I begged my siblings to sit still for more hours of "school" after they got home from "real school" and even had a treasure box to reward those especially good students!

As I've gotten older and come to realize the other considerations that play into a career choice, I've debated the teaching profession. The salary, (sometimes) lack of prestige, never-ending work, and persnickety parents were all factors that led me to reconsider. But, I couldn't envision myself truly waking up excited for any of the other jobs.

So, naturally, I have high expectations for the path I've chosen. I expect that I'll wake up every morning thrilled to be in the classroom. I expect that my students will always make me laugh, giggle, and be excited to learn. I expect that I'll have fun at school everyday, something that is impossible in any other job I could have chosen.

And I'm scared that I'm wrong. This semester I've been in the school about three days a week. I'm starting to get a good feel for what it's all about, and it's not quite living up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying it, but I'm just scared it won't be exactly as I've envisioned teaching.

Next semester, I'll student teach. I'm not going to lie. I'm petrified about student teaching. How will I ever be excited to teach every day if I'm starting out petrified? I'm scared the kids won't learn anything, I'll completely lose control of the classroom, my teacher will think I'm completely incompetent, I'll loose a student somewhere between homeroom and the cafeteria, or I'll simply burn out before I even graduate.

I'm excited, but the petrified feeling has pretty much taken over as I'm closely approaching student teaching. Why? I know I have the potential to do it, but somewhere along the way, I've lost my confidence.

I'm hoping that student teaching will be scary for a little bit, but end up reaffirming my desire to teach. I think of myself as an optimist, so I'd rather not go into this with low expectations. I want to go in with high expectations for myself, my class, my chosen profession.

The vulnerability scares me.

But it's a risk I'm willing to take.


Blogger Lani said...

Hi Meg,

I sense a certain tension here: "Don't have high expectations" and "I want to have high expectations" and "So naturally I have high expectations" and "I'm scared that I'm wrong", and "I'm petrified" and "I'm excited". I think I can honestly say I understand completely. I've been there--

I am wondering if reality may be somewhere in the middle in terms of expectations. There were a fair number of days when I did not have fun at school, my students did not make me laugh, and I wasn't thrilled to be in the classroom. That said, I have NEVER regretted the path I chose; and I cherish the memories from my classrooms. And a Christmas card from a former student, now a junior in a college of education, reminds me again that often I did make that difference and it still has an impact today. The time spent with youngsters learning and growing is a special time indeed. So perhaps a question for you might be, how are you at dealing with deferred high expectations? Knowing that sometimes it may be years for you to learn of how much you meant to a student?

I'd like to think that you will find your student teaching to be a wonderful experience for you! Now I'm sure you'll lose control at least once (everyone does), and you might lose a student for a moment (I've seen that happen with experienced teachers) but the kids will learn alot from you and all of it won't be from the lessons over which you labor.

Smile, appreciate the uniqueness of each child, enjoy yourself, plan carefully, be flexible, expect the unexpected. You've got good skills, you care! Teaching is complex and accomplished teaching comes with years of experience. Believe it or not, I was still nervous on the first day of my 35th year of teaching!

You are taking the risk and moving out of your comfort zone! Congratulations! With high, realistic expectations, where might you stand?

I can't wait to hear your reflections on YOUR experiences with your kids!


8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Meg,

I admire your willingness to express about what others can only hold inside . Your candor is inspiring. I think if your presence in the classroom is similar, many students will be impressed. You will find cynics, but do not let them rule you are the class. Like Lani, I am also a veteran of the classroom. Although the first years are the most difficult, teaching can truly be the best way to make a living for yourself, as your work enables others to find their way into their own life.

5:08 PM  

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