Reflections on Becoming a Teacher – 1

Today my field supervisor came into the first grade classroom I am interning in to observe me officially for the first time.  It was during a time in which I was running a small reading group.  I had known she was coming and so I had written up a lesson plan for her.  She is a very nice lady, a former teacher and administrator but being observed in an official capacity did have me a little on edge.

That was until I started the reading group.  My field supervisor showed up when I was less than a minute into it.  I knew she was there and even acknowledged her with a hello and a smile, but my focus was on my students.

In this particular group there are six students.  It is a leveled group, meaning that they are are all reading at about the same instructional level.  They may have the same ability when it comes to reading but in other areas such as paying attention, following direction, staying on task, and speed at which they can complete certain simple writing tasks that go along with the reading, they vary greatly.  It is a challenge to keep them together, focused, and engaged.  It is rather like herding cats through a cornfield littered with fat mice to chase and expecting them to come out the other side as fluent at The Cat in the Hat himself with not a trace of mouse on their whiskers or breath.

After thirty minutes with this group, I usually feel like I could have done better, as if I spent more time redirecting, and correcting than teaching them how to read.  I have talked about this with my mentor teacher a couple times for I almost never feel fully settled after running one of these reading groups.  She has assured me that I am doing a great job and so I press on hoping it is me and that my comfort level will improve soon.

I was nervous and did not know what to expect after I dismissed the students and walked over to my supervisor.  I did not have much time to talk as I had one more reading group to lead – a small group of three students who are reading well above grade level and are currently on their fifth or sixth book chapter book of the year.  My supervisor decided to stay for another half hour and observe this group as well.

Once that group was done and all the students had headed out for recess, we debriefed.  My field supervisor told me that, had she not known my situation, she would not have picked me out as a student teacher.  Whoa.  I really could not ask for a better review than that.

So if I look like a teacher on the outside, why don’t I feel grounded and teacher-like on the inside?

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
This entry was posted in On Becoming a Teacher and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Reflections on Becoming a Teacher – 1

  1. For the same reason they call established professionals “in practice.” The art is always in progress. Great job on your interning! Sounds like it was a success.

    • shoes says:

      So very true – I had not thought of it that way but of course it is forever a practice. I just hope that someday in the not to far away future I will feel more practiced that I do now! I am glad my observation was a success, I just wish I could feel more successful in what I am doing.

      • You will, and your dear sons will greatly contribute to that sense of expertise one day. Starting out, the learning curve is so consuming it’s hard to see our worth. But as time goes on, especially with your experience as a mom and w/challenges, you will soon be seen as the “go-to-gal” for all things educational. And your creativity and diligence will make you a leader in the field. We all have to go through that initial underdog stage, but you will quickly emerge as an authority once the obligatory professional “hazing” period is over and you’ve done your minimal time. Hang in there and soak up everything you can while you’re the apprentice, since once you have authority, you’ll need all the experience you’re getting in the “now” phase. Having experience mopping the floors comes in real handy when you’re the one in authority, which may come sooner than you think.

  2. mimijk says:

    I agree with Southern Sea Muse…When I taught, I never thought of myself as a teacher; when I worked with adults as an executive coach I never thought of myself as a coach. You are engaged in learning – your kids are learning, you are learning from them and the process takes as long as your curiousity and delight. Congratulations!

    • shoes says:

      And being a life learner is one of the reasons I am so drawn to teaching. I just feel so out of my depth right now, that it is hard to be excited about a great review by my supervisor. I enjoy it and love knowing that we all, both the students and I, are growing each and everyday.

  3. Welcome to the profession. Those reviews can be stressful. However, at this point I figure I am teaching whether being observed or not. It’s not like I don’t care if they are not there. So, do your best and welcome feedback.
    It sounds to me like you are doing well. Remember they know you are new and want to work with you. You are working with a veteran teacher. It takes time. Congratulations on the review.

    • shoes says:

      Thank you. I have a hard time remembering not to compare myself to my mentor teacher (who has been teaching for 19 years!). I want to be GREAT at everything I do and this is a huge learning curve for me. Everything is new and there are so many behind the scene ins and outs that make the act of teaching either run smoothly or cause it to crash nose first into the ground. I am all about welcoming the feedback and I guess I should feel good about the review, but still I struggle with not feeling teacher-ish enough.

      • I doubt this will help but you are far from the only one who felt that way. Can you talk to your mentor about this?
        One thing to think about – did you feel ‘parentish’ the second your children were born or ‘marriedish’ the second you got married.. I know I didn’t

  4. Most days I feel like I am pretending to be an adult and I think I have most people convinced – phew! This real life stuff is hard! 🙂 Very exciting path you are on!

  5. ksbeth says:

    we all struggle with that a bit each day – are we doing our best for all of the children, could i have done more, done it differently, etc. the truth is if you go with your best you have done what you can and the children will benefit from it, though some days will be easier and better than others )

    • shoes says:

      Thank you for the advise. I do strive to be the best, to model and teach a love of learning in whatever I am doing. And as you said, some days are better than others.

  6. Hetterbell says:

    You’re probably bringing much more of yourself as a mother to your teaching than you realise. Well done for getting such a positive review! 🙂

  7. Sounds like you’re a natural! Good career move 🙂 The children are the real teachers, you’ll learn something from them everyday. Your first ‘paid’ day you will probably feel like a fraud… You’ve taught for free the whole duration of your course and then suddenly someone is paying you to do what you love:)

    • shoes says:

      Thank you! It is pretty amazing, even if I don’t quite feel like a teacher yet. I learn so much from my own children on a daily basis and I find that I also have so much to learn from the students in my class. I have to say, it will be nice to get a pay check after being a stay at home mom for 7 years and a full time student for over 1 year.

  8. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Rock on!

    I think that feeling is years in the coming, and complete even then with its moments of feeling like a con. It’s a good thing no one else (generally) can see the doubts inside. 🙂

    • shoes says:

      I really hope you are right in that it is a feeling that is years in the making. I have continual doubt about my chosen career path throughout the day. At the end of most days, however, I feel excitement about becoming a teacher. It is just so overwhelming and there is so much to learn, that I struggle with not being able to immediately and comfortable claim the title of teacher for myself.

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