on the bad days (of which today was one)

i’m just past day 16 of student teaching.

today, i hit my wall. i had a meltdown. i cried. it was not pretty. but i can look at it and see what happened. a lot of this post is based on a conversation with my clinical instructor (the teacher i work with), who was there for me completely when this happened.

this week, i took on a lot more responsibility. we didn’t really scaffold as much as we should have, because (and i am referencing here what my teacher said to me), i am confident in front of the class and “doing a fantastic job”. we both assumed that meant i was ready to accelerate and take on a lot of classroom tasks.

but this week, i wasn’t just teaching. i was teaching while sick. and today was my first day of feeling healthy again. and i think i was so clouded by my cold that i didn’t realize how overwhelmed i was, and how out of control i felt. not that i was spinning out of control, but that i had lost control of the class. that is how i felt, i mean. not necessarily that that was the case. and so we talked. a lot. and it was really, really wonderful.

the most important thing i took away from that long conversation was that this is a milestone. realizing that there are truly a dozen obstacles to being a good teacher, and that those obstacles keep teaching from being fun and easy. realizing that doing it all is exhausting and scary and you need to be an authority figure – that’s terrifying. hitting a wall and being able to admit it. and knowing how to reach out for help.

so the plan now is that my teacher will take more control. i will keep teaching social studies and math, and she will take the lead on morning meeting (the little morning ritual our school uses to bring the class together in a positive way before the day begins in earnest) and language arts.

here is our reasoning. morning meeting and i do not mesh yet. i was never trained on the system the school uses for classroom management, and so am way out of my element with morning meeting. it has a structure i am not familiar with, and do not know enough about the set-up to lead it smoothly and confidently. so we’ll work closely to plan these daily meetings, and i’ll observe her for the things i know throw me off.

language arts is an area i feel pretty good about. however, we’re about to introduce groupings – based on student assessments on reading and writing – and we agree that she should take the lead on getting that ball rolling before i step back in to lead. i can help out by leading some small groups, but she’ll guide the class towards a better understanding of the flow of the new language arts time.

anyhow. i went to dinner with my mom (and my best friend’s mom), and then came home and poured a big glass of red wine, blasted some music, and danced it out. i cleaned the kitchen, put away dishes, and did laundry. i graded some worksheets, i reviewed the upcoming math unit (place value), and reviewed tomorrow’s plan. and i feel better.

i know that i’ll cry again over something this semester. and there are SO many other pieces to the puzzle that led to my crying. but i am so lucky to have my CI – she is a great teacher of third graders and graduate students alike. she remembers what it was like as a student teacher, and we mesh nicely. i cannot thank her enough for what she is doing for me.

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