This journey began with many bumps and bruises. More so, just on my on my ego, not physical bruises… ok maybe a few. But, as rocky as the journey has been it is starting to culminate in tackling new challenges. Even on the downward slope there are still bumps and bruises, but they are different. The difference is that we are now having to make more difficult decisions and work on more sensitive issues because we are no longer fresh and green pre-service teachers. We are now an integral part of the classroom communities we are involved in. The students see us in a much different light then they did in the beginning.
Looking back at day seven in my pre-internship teaching experience I see the growth I have experienced over the past 3 months. I received one of the greatest compliments from one of my students. He approached me and said “I’ve been talking about you with my older brother, who’s big into gaming, and I said I had this sub that loves gaming too and makes games…” Wait, what… a sub??? Yes, I was seen by this student as full fledged teacher. His view of me was equal to that of any other teacher in the school. Day one I was the “Intern”, day seven I’m now the “Sub”. I honestly couldn’t believe it. Have I grown that much? But I still have so much more to learn how can I be an actual teacher? I can be, because I am. Even as a pre-intern I am a teacher. Also even as a full-time teacher I will still have a lot to learn. I will still be going into a classroom every day with my thinking cap on, prepared to soak up whatever the students throw at me.
Students will throw a lot of things at me, but the greatest tool I have discovered, thanks to my cooperating teacher, that I can use to help in catching things is to build strong relationships with the students. However, on this particular day I found out that in strong relationships come very difficult decisions.
The scenario was fairly typical in most classrooms. A student was repeatedly being disruptive to other classmates. Pretty straightforward to manage you would think. I pulled the student aside to talk about what I was seeing and that a change in behaviour was necessary. I thought I handled it quite well. Except this student’s response to me was “I find this so funny” whilst shaking his head. The rest of the conversation was just a back and forth of perceived work from both of us, but ended with the same line “I find this so funny”. I held my head and kept my cool, but I couldn’t shake that line. I thought I had a good relationship with this student. He had always worked hard for me in past lessons. What was the issue now? Why was it funny?
Here I discovered the price of my progress. I did have a strong relationship with this student. But, because I had a strong relationship with him, this student did not expect me to react to his behaviour in the manner I did. In fact, I figured out that what he meant was “you’re just like every other teacher I’ve had…”. This student has had behaviour issues in the past. I’ve seen them and I’ve seen them dealt with by my cooperating teacher. In an instant I saw our relationship change to one that was less “Intern” and more teacher. And it’s hard. It’s hard knowing that I lost respect of a student I believe I share a common bond with. But, I also learned that as teachers we have to make these difficult decisions. Do we break down bonds now, in order to build them back up stronger later? In this instance I made that decision, unknowingly at the time, to do so. I made the choice that I want that student to be stronger in the long run. I want that student to understand respect for his colleagues and a sustained work ethic. I would rather he gain those skills and hate me, then love me and learn nothing. That is the very harsh reality of teaching. We have to make sacrifices and hard decisions each day, but all in the name of learning. Is the price of progress worth it? These moments are some of the hardest that we will deal with. I have gone through these moments personally as a youth. My answer because of this: Yes, you bet it is worth it. I am a better person as a whole because of the sacrifices my teachers made. It took me a long time to realize what they had done for me. But in the end I figured it out and so shall this student. In the end it’s about him and the rest of his classmates. It is about every student that enters our classroom door. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Thank you once again to Dreamatico for the headline image: http://dreamatico.com/magic/2/. This image is subject to Copyright and is used for educational purposes only.