Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Today my supervisor came in again after a few weeks of absence (he told me he would stay away so I wouldn't be stressed by his visits). I was in the middle of a chaotic, noisy, not-so-great math lesson (although I think the kids did learn something) and near the end he pulled me out of the room while my co-op took over the station I was working with.

He thinks we've hit a wall. I agree, and I know my co-op agreed too. Yesterday, she seemed very frustrated with my messy math lesson (they're always messy, but this one was really awful) and asked me what else she could possibly do to help me. She has done a lot. She is a wonderful person, and I really am grateful for all the help she's given me over and over again this semester. But she can't really get me any further, and I can't even get myself over this one little issue.

It's called motivation. See, last semester I decided I didn't really want to teach in a classroom; I'd rather play a support role like being an aide or a building/district specialist or... a librarian. Which, coincidentally, is how I applied to grad school. I'm hoping for a degree in Information Science, maybe with a School Library Media concentration. I think what my supervisor calls "nontraditional" teaching is what I like best. Of course, that does nothing for my enjoyment and daily improvement in a real classroom, no matter how much I have told myself to just get through it and get my degree. And so I've stopped improving, and my biggest issue now is "situational awareness" - seeing the whole big classroom picture. I'm too detail-oriented (another reason I'd rather hover and pick at one or two kids - I'm great with one-on-one!). And since I've stopped improving, they are taking me out of the classroom.

"Oh no!" you say. "What about your grade? Will you fail? Will you graduate? Do you have plans?"

For once, I just might have plans. I'll be hearing back from my advisor soon (I took the afternoon off of teaching to meet with her and my supervisor on campus, after his observation) and she has two options in mind for me. One: I can undergo an "Intervention" working one-on-one with a faculty member to improve my classroom teaching and we'll try for another 6 credits (since I'm already over halfway through the 12-credit teaching I signed up for). This will mean staying an extra summer and fall to get things done, possibly even into next spring depending on when the intervention can be done. It also means I'd be a part-time student during that time, which supposedly won't hurt my financial aid since I'm so close to my degree, but I don't like the idea anyway. It would mean I would have to find another part-time job while I was in class. Ick.

The other idea is to call off student teaching and forget about an Elementary Education degree. I could still probably get my Spanish minor, but my major would be in "General Studies" (which is the term they use when you can't figure out what you want to do, but have enough credits for graduation anyway, or for when you do something like drop out of student teaching halfway - which is surprisingly common and I am not the first this semester to do so). I would have to take one or two more classes in the summer or fall for that, most likely, but I'd have a degree without facing a classroom again (which sounds heavenly right now, even as much as I love the kids), and I could still make it into grad school in the spring semester.

I am past caring about appearances at this point and since my supervisor and my advisor both know I'm not going to get motivated overnight (although they have praised my smarts and self-reflection skills up and down the block), I think the best option is to just get the weak-looking General Studies degree, and boost it with a good graduate school degree, which is the important one anyway. Hardly anyone actually follows up on their undergraduate degree with an exact matching one in grad school, and a Master's says a lot more than a bachelor's degree, or so I'm told. But I haven't heard back from my advisor yet. So for now, I guess I'll go clean my room. I've been so busy and stressed this semester it hasn't gotten done, and now I feel like a lot of weight has been lifted. Plus, even if they take my midterm grade and use that for this semester, a 6 credit C is a lot better than a 12-credit D and a re-take next semester. I am lucky to have smart people watching over me who spotted my problems and know where to go to fix them.


  1. Hermana-- te amo y espero que tu vida sea mejor en las promixas semanas.

    Hasta pronto!

    Hermanita (favorita!)

  2. ((hug))

    "The system" isn't geared to handle people that are smart in unusual ways - I know you'd have done well in the outdoor school, even if you are struggling against horrendous situations in the traditional classroom. I wouldn't last more than a week there either, because I'd have children with warmed tushies learning cooperation and respect (and parents up against a wall demanding they practice discipline in the home), and I'd have the administration up against a wall demanding sanity from the bottom up, not egghead policy from the top down. It's not about serving "the public" or about following "policy", it's about doing what is best for each child, and that is what keeps getting missed in the 'status quo' of public education.

    I applaud your courage and persistence in following your dream. You haven't failed, you've just learned some really valuable lessons that will be seeds for something better in the future.