Once upon a time.

Once upon a time I used to have a life.

I don’t know where it went, but it’s gone.

Somewhere between my first day of university 3 years ago and now, I got really good at the game called university. I could write nice papers and do well on exams. I could remember things and spit them back out a few weeks later and then, as if some sort of magician, make them disappear from my mind all together. I could go to class, do my reading and get grades I was happy with.

Now it’s my fourth year, and the game has changed. All of my classes seem useful and relevant. Only thing is, the rules I learned to play by aren’t going to work. I need to actually LEARN things. I need to absorb a lot of information. And not just memorize it and forget it, I need to internalize it, be changed by it. This is a daunting task for the girl with the disappearing-act-memory.

It’s the third week of school, and I spend hours in the library (are you getting this? The THIRD week. I should get a medal.) These hours seem to amount to nothing when I think about how much I feel I still need to learn. I know learning isn’t like a race where there’s a finish line, but I do feel like there’s a lot I need to know in the next year before I am officially Miss Brennan.

It isn’t the amount of work that overwhelms me, it’s the substance. Present a literacy strategy (hmm, what exactly isย a literacy strategy?) Make a blog and sound scholarly (I better start reading The English Journal..) Plan a unit (wait, I’ve never done that before.. I don’t even remember the last time I had to do a lesson? Oh shoot, a unit? What does that even look like? Oh no, I can’t do that. I don’t know how. I really should have been a hairdresser…)

I want to be a good teacher. I want to be a great teacher. I love to learn and I love to see learning happening. I want to inspire, and empower, and build relationships. The classes I’m in now are giving me great ideas of how to begin this process called teaching. I’m really excited. I am also terrified. I question my capability on a day-to-day basis. I walk around with an uneasiness that I can’t quite shake. What if I’m not a good teacher? What if my lessons suck? What if I fail university (this is only when I’m being extremely dramatic and irrational) ? I am consumed by this process of becoming.

Once upon a time, I used to have a life.

Then I decided to go to university and become a teacher.

Need I say more?







10 thoughts on “Once upon a time.

  1. I’m coming to the other end of that year of actual teacher training, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. It all seems so overwhelming, but the foundations come together pretty easily once you’ve got your head around it, and then it’s just a process of iteration.

    I’m certainly not a great or even good teacher yet, but the path seems pretty clear now. I just about know enough to start to learn, if you know what I mean. This year has been about learning the language of teaching and discovering the resources that we’ll use when go out to teach. The real learning starts in front of the kids, but you’ll know how to do it.

  2. Just the fact you are reflecting to this depth now assures me you are already an amazing teacher ๐Ÿ™‚ The day one realizes “hoop jumping” is done is the start of true learning- you are so there ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’d like to say questioning your abilities as a teacher will change…but in my experience the questioning only gets deeper and harder…but I’ve come to realize these are the very things that make me a teacher AND a learner ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wow, KB…you clearly don’t need my encouragement on top of all this! If all these people haven’t convinced you how great you are and how shockingly unlikely it is that you will be anything but an AMAZING teacher, then I’m doomed. Does being in this weird blog community make you feel like you kind of have a little support group surrounding you? I kind of love it – always somebody out there in cyberspace to brush you off and make you feel shiny and new again.

    Obviously you have a lot of admirers and cheerleaders. Add my name to that list. University is stressful, no matter what program or faculty you’re involved in. You’ve come this far, and done amazing while you’re at it, and there is not a single shred of doubt in my mind that you will not come out the other end successfully – and not just successfully, but actually as a stronger, better person and teacher. If you ever come to question this, I know that I will be in the middle of a long line of people waiting to shake some sense into you.

  4. The only thing harder than student teaching is your 1st year. It gets better. You’ll be a better teacher in yr 2 than yr 1. Same for yr 3 vrs yr 2. If that ever stops being true you’ll know you’ve lost your way.

    For what it’s worth, I’m about 20 yrs in and every day I go to bed thinking I still have so much more to learn. That’s an attitude I want my students to catch.

    I wondered as I read your post if you’re learning the stuff you’re assigned in the way you want your students to do that? I mean, maybe there are ways to make the work more compelling for you personally while making the content more sticky. For example, when I read research I make one of these. It helps me remember and the slides are great for sharing. They also come in handy in so many ways and places I hadn;t thought of when I started doing this.

    If you were teaching the stuff you’re learning how would you ask students to show what they know? Maybe then ask your prof if you can do that? Then you’ll know if it’s a good idea to ask your students to do in the future. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Good for you, Kailee. Not for spending hours in the library– although that’s great– but for wanting to make those hours matter to *you*, to your own learning, and eventually, to your students.

    Since you mentioned the English Journal, I’m assuming you’re a prospective English teacher? You might be interested in the English Companion Ning, an online community of English teachers. Here’s a link to a recent discussion from a new teacher that you might want to check out: http://bit.ly/n8fTj3 I chose this because I posted a lot of great resources for the person seeking advice and I think they’d be helpful to you, too.

    You’re in exactly the right place. Keep it up!

  6. Kailee,
    I am a teacher who has taught for 35 years and about to retire at the end of this year. My boss always says ‘”If you don’t make mistakes, then you are not learning.” You always have to be prepared to take risks in teaching and be prepared to say to the students ” I don’t know the answer, how can we find out?”

    But knowing how to blog and use technology is a must with this generation of students. Too many teachers are still using out dated methods because they feel safe using them and they are not prepared to take that risk and make a mistake in front of their students who are more technologically advanced in many cases.

    Keep up the good work in your training, develop a great PLN to back you up and be prepared to take risks.

  7. “Once upon a time, I used to have a life.
    Then I decided to go to university and become a teacher.”

    And that might just be the best decision you’ve ever made. Being scared and nervous is what is going to make you a great teacher, because that means that you care. Teaching means learning and growing as an educator and a person, which means that you will try something new and completely bomb a lesson (or numerous lessons) but at least you tried. You shouldn’t be comfortable with what you’re doing, getting out of your comfort zone is what is going to make you great – ready to take on the teaching world. You need to find the best ways for your students to learn and grow, and that will require stepping out of your own comfort zone and trying new or different ways of teaching.

    “I want to be a good teacher. I want to be a great teacher. I love to learn and I love to see learning happening. I want to inspire, and empower, and build relationships.”
    -I have no doubt that you will!

  8. Hi Kailee,
    After almost forty years in education I still have a lot of the those feelings. Reason why, I care. Even though I’ve been a Curriculum Coordinator for five years now I am constantly rethinking lessons and ideas and looking for new ones. I always keep not only the kids in mind, but the teachers, the parents and the entire school community.
    I would never give back a day of my career. I think you will feel the same way. Your heart is in the right place and that’s the most important component of a good teacher.
    Best wishes,
    JoAnn Jacobs

  9. Kailee,

    What I hear in your reflection is someone who wants to be great at what they do. The teaching career is not for the “faint-hearted” but is one of incredible depth and reward.
    I was a mentor teacher to an amazing intern a couple of years ago and you might enjoy reading her reflections of her first, and now second year teaching, here: http://touchedbyarose.blogspot.com/
    In any case, take one little step after another and be gentle on yourself!
    Good luck to you!

  10. Hey Kailee.

    I think I have a similar brain because all too often I take the content in and then spew it out in the paper, midterm, final, etc. promptly forgetting most of it. That, however, is not what I want from my education. I want it all (well, actually just the good stuff) to stay with me because I certainly want my students to do more than just regurgitate information. I would like them to leave my classes having learned something that can be useful to them long term. As far as being a good teacher someday, I think it’s good that you’re nervous about being good enough. You realize students deserve great teachers!

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