So here's the thing - I kinda went into this whole teaching thing a bit blindly. Ok, well, that's not entirely true. I did a lot of research and did classroom observation and spent lots of hours in contemplation before actually making the plunge. But in terms of actual, tangible experience - I have close to none. I've always enjoyed the volunteer activities that I've done that involved working with kids - but usually those were little ones in the early elementary grades, never middle schoolers. And since I was a volunteer leader or tutor, I was rarely serving in a "teacherish" role. When you're the teacher, kids expect a lot more out of you. They are looking to you for guidance and support, and they know darn well when you are flailing.
From day one of beginning this adventure, I've been plagued with self-doubt about my abilities. I don't doubt my motives or my choice - I simply worry that I won't be a good teacher. I say this not to elicit "no! you will be!" comments, but to be honest about some of the things that are swimming through my head right now.
I've always been a rule follower and someone who is perhaps an overachiever and perfectionist, so I'm not concerned I won't be able to learn the content or that I won't know how to behave in a way that a teacher should. Instead, I'm simply worried I won't have that magical connection that excellent teachers seem to naturally have. I'm afraid I won't have that spark, no matter how hard I try.
I'm naturally a shy person and not one for confrontation. I'm more of the quiet leader type, as opposed to the take-charge personality. I'm kind of awkward socially sometimes, and it always takes me a while to become comfortable in a new situation. I hate going into a place or a situation where I don't know what to expect or what it will be like. I'm not naturally confident.
I've spent too much time worrying about how I stack up to the other soon-to-be teachers in my program, who all seem to have a plethora of experience on their sides. I feel like I'm jumping into the deep end without knowing how to swim.
However, if there's anything I've learned in the past few weeks of school, it's that nothing is going to prepare me for being a real life teacher, besides being a real life teacher. Sure, grad school is teaching me a lot, but nothing will compare to sheer experience. And that will be the same for everybody.
I mentioned earlier that one of my classes has us working with middle schoolers twice a week on reading. I was so intimidated on the first day, walking in there seeing young teenagers just staring at us. I don't know what to say to a middle schooler! I don't know how to teach!
But the thing is, even after only a few sessions with my small group, I already feel a million times more confident. Of course I will never go into actual details on this blog about the kids I work with or even much about school and/or my eventual teaching job - but suffice it to say, my very small experience so far has been such an eye-opener. I see now how much I truly do have to learn. I see how much more confidence and utter fearlessness I need to achieve. I see how much thicker my skin needs to become.
But here's the important part - I see now exactly why I'm doing this. I truly feel this is what I was meant to do. I know I'm doing the right thing. I suspected so before, but now I can truly feel it.
I won't be perfect and I will learn from my mistakes. Each minute spent with kids will make me that much better of a teacher. I will get there. Maybe not the first year, maybe not the second. But eventually, I will get there. And no matter what, I'm determined to be a GREAT teacher, magical spark or not!