That title is overly dramatic. I'm not being replaced. But there are aspects of being a cooperating teacher that I wasn't quite prepared for. Specifically: feeling useless. Even the word "useless" is dramatic here. I know I'm not useless and there's still plenty of work to be done. But it is strange to slowly give up control of your classes. It's strange to direct students to the student teacher when they come in with questions about an assignment. It's surreal to sit in the back of the room, watching a bizarro-world version of lessons I teach.
My student teacher is wonderful: enthusiastic, friendly, motivated. She's a quick learner and has already established a natural connection with the students. So why do I dread the transition to her (almost) full takeover?
I need attention and interaction. I'm embarrassed to admit to needing attention, but it's the truth. I like being an eccentric personality in my students' lives. I like engaging them in discussion over what we're reading and writing, and it's hard to watch someone else take over those primary roles. I'm still reading their writing and giving feedback, but I miss the amount of verbal communication that daily class discussions provide. I miss the way I let lessons take us somewhere new and different in each class and the way I allow myself to get carried away when a student takes discussion in a direction I'd never thought of. I like all of those unpredictable, unplanned parts of teaching, and they aren't happening now that I'm not in my facilitator role. I miss the hours and minutes with my 8th graders, knowing that I'll only have them back for a month before I never see some of them again. I miss teaching.
It's an interesting thought as our district starts to write a grant for Teacher Leadership Compensation (I'm on the committee to write it, so I'm sure I'll post about it later). Part of a Mentor Teacher's role is to leave the classroom and be a mentor to others. Could I do that? Would I want to leave my classroom on a regular basis knowing how this feels right now? If the opportunity were to arise, would I take it? I like to view myself as a leader, but I'm not sure I would sacrifice my classroom teacher role in order to be a leader. Maybe that's the problem with finding a unified force for teacher-leaders. We care too much to leave the classroom, and while we're full-time teachers it's pretty hard to be full-time advocates for our profession, too.
On the flip side, today I had the opportunity to team interview a potential replacement for our social studies position. I've mentioned before that this change impacts me on a personal level: the current social studies teacher is also one of my best friends. So while I want to find a dedicated, intelligent, dynamic coworker to fill his shoes, I also couldn't help myself from slipping into this sappy thought: Are you a person that could be my friend?
That's obviously not a requirement of the position. There are certainly many coworker that I adore working with that aren't really my friends, and that doesn't change how much I love and respect working with them. But the position across the hall has been sacred to me, this friend and colleague who was hired the year after I started. I've had a close ally through these years of teaching, someone who's known me on a personal and professional level, and I'm afraid of what it looks like around here without that. The candidate today was amazing, and certainly someone I'd love to work with on an intellectual and collaborative level. I'm excited to meet the other candidate later in the week, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to stop myself from thinking: Could we be friends? I hope that doesn't cloud my judgment too much when giving my input on the hiring.
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.