Warning, this may sound like a complete and total whinefest, but I must express it in order to feel better. Yes, I should be doing my homework in this brief 30 minute break I have, but I need to read and when I need to read with this much on my mind – well – it wanders and the point of reading is futile.
Here we go…
I had the best field experience. I became my confident self once again. I was smart, I was creative, I thought of genius on the fly. I knew I could be a teacher in the very school I was “practicing”. I was dreading going back to class, but my field experience gave me the encouragement I needed to muster through the rest of this semester and the 3 or 4 more I will need to complete before I can once again call myself a professional. I cannot wait for this day!
So, I head to class this morning. I got to sleep in until 7 AM! This is the only bright spot in my day. I go to my first class and realize it really is such a waste of time. I could attend a seminar for one day and be finished with the entire semester long course-load. The professor is interesting and entertaining. I mean no disrespect to him. People who have never spent a day in a classroom may need to buy what he is selling, but ugh…it is so painful to sit through when all I really want to do is go out there and do!
My next class is the class I will have nightmares about for the rest of my life. I had to write an essay for this class about my field experience. I know I wrote an awesome essay, but I am not sure my professor will concur. I resolved with myself as I was stressing my Saturday away writing the stupid thing that I really don’t care if I don’t get an “A” on it or not (we will see if I can really stand by this when I get my paper back). If he discounts my learning experiences because I do not agree with him or I did not observe enough of the kind of lesson he wanted me to observe, well then what kind of teacher is he? I am not going to go into a school with an established system and shake things up for two weeks. It is a bit narcissistic to think we should do this. So, in class today I listened to other students share about their learning experiences. To be honest, what they were sharing was music to our professors ears. My classmates were able to teach lessons and really witness students reading.
I, on the other hand, watched students struggle with reading passages. I was very happy when another student raised her hand and flat out challenged our professor on something he believes in the uttermost core of his being. She mentioned that some students she observed were in the mainstream classrooms on an IEP (which I also observed) and it was written in their educational plans that these students have an audio of the text to listen to. This is a really big no, no in our professors eyes. I understand why he does not agree with this, but the problem I have is he sees no reason to make an exception EVER. He gave an answer, but to be honest I really began tuning him out because I didn’t agree with him. I think he said something along the lines that maybe students on IEP’s shouldn’t be in the mainstream classroom (which goes against anything we have learned in EVERY single one of our other classes!) or that they need to read different material. Regardless, his point was students should read books that challenge them for classroom reading/discussion/lessons and just right books independently. So, what do you do when you are in a classroom with remedial readers-high level readers. How does he propose we make a reading lesson for that?!?!?!?!
The bottom line is my experience was authentic. I could walk into a classroom like this for my very first job. Is his class really preparing me for how to deal with this? No. It is not, which is fine because I am resourceful and I could figure out how to handle this on my own by asking for input from other teachers who are experienced with these types of students. Input from teachers who teach in the exact same situation and environment far outweighs the input we would receive from a college professor 20 years removed from this type of scenario. It is one thing to know how students learn, but it is certainly another thing to witness it in authentic form. I may be selling my professor short. He may have been in a high-school classroom just last week. I know he is a great professor and he is full of all kinds of wonderful strategies, but unless he experienced what I saw and managed it with great success, I will consider his opinions with caution.
The problem I have with my classes (with the exception of 1, I have one I really like and that is really on target, but that is 1 out of 4) is the curriculum is designed for classrooms that do not exist in the real world. I am wasting my time preparing for something I will never see. I know this because I live in the real world. I have lived in the real world since I was 18 years old. I do not have on rose-colored glasses about my chosen profession. I see clearly where I am going and I am excited about my path ahead – not because someone told me to do this or to do that or to put this on your resume – but because I am a teacher. I was born to be a teacher. End of story.