I have had one of my laziest breaks in the history of school breaks. I have watched Harry Potter movie marathons that devolved into Harry Potter book rereading marathons. I spent a day immobilized due to stomach flu and was kind of happy about it since it gave me guilt-free sloth status. And then I got better and sloth-ed some more. I know it's bad when a shower feels novel because it's been four days since I last had one. I have not driven my car in nine days and I have not left the inside of my house for stretches of two-four days at a time. So yeah, I've taken a break.
School doesn't start until Monday, but I'm headed in to my classroom tomorrow. The main motivator (aside from the digital "stacks" of papers I need to respond to) is that tomorrow my student teacher is coming to meet me and see the room for the first time. She'll start right away on Monday as we come back from back, and she'll be here for her entire placement. This is my first student teacher, and right now my head is swimming. I don't know how to describe it. Nerves? Pressure? Discomfort? Pride? All of those and more, most likely.
I've heard about nightmare student teachers from other cooperating teachers, and I've heard about nightmare cooperating teachers from those who decided not to become teachers. It's a delicate relationship, and it'll take me time to figure out the balance of guidance and support and constructive criticism. It seems silly to doubt my ability to provide the weekly, monthly, semester-long feedback forms sent from Iowa State; I'm a writing teacher. My job is about feedback. It has always been the main focus of my research. Why does it feel different in this context? Because so much of teaching and teaching style is personal? So is writing! Because I don't want to hurt her future hopes or damage her success? But I'm okay with giving sometimes-negative feedback to 13-14-year old kids? Ouch. The thought spiral continues to lead me in this kind of direction, and that's a good thing. If I'm more thoughtful about how scrutiny affects this almost-adult student, then it's another reminder of how harsh school, with its grades and tests, can be to our young students.
It's easy in the chaos of every day teaching to let the emotions of some individuals slip through the cracks. I have over 130 students this year, and yes, sometimes it's hard to take every single one of them into consideration on every single day- that's the problem with ridiculous teacher loads and class sizes! But if I can worry about this one girl who's probably a perfectly capable soon-to-be-teacher, then I need to spend some time worrying about every single one of my other students in the few days before Monday, too.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.