Trial By Fire, A Year Later

A year ago last Wednesday, I walked into a suburban high school social studies classroom and started my student teaching experience. Over the next couple of days, I watched a few lectures, gave two lectures, and helped students put together posters. It was a pretty easy few days of observation, and my mentor teacher and I worked out a slow transition in which I would take over the U.S. History classes completely and help out a little in Government. There was also a little bit of drama, and then…

A year ago today, my mentor teacher quit.

From the next day through the rest of the semester, I went through a stressful and wonderful experience of teaching and learning. I have always loved history and government and I have always loved teaching. I don’t think I would’ve made it through without that. But it wasn’t easy – I spent countless evenings planning lessons (much to my wife’s dismay) and dealt with multiple substitutes and administrators. I had a great group of colleagues who were able and willing to help me as the semester went by and I had a couple hundred students that (for the most part) rocked.

I also learned a lot. I learned how to revise and start over – often in the middle of lessons, and pretty much in the middle of every day. I learned how to deal with all of the stuff that students, parents, and administrators throw at you. I was also on TV announcements more in that semester than in four years of high school. These were things that I’ll be carrying with me (well, not that last thing) – I was constantly revising my work with refugees and I’m sure I’ll be working with different parties no matter what I do with my future.

Yesterday I was substituting in a world history class, watching students take notes out of textbooks, and it dawned on me that I might not end up teaching high school students ever again (unless a teacher somewhere gets really sick, really soon). But while it might suck if that’s not in the future, I know that I can go into whatever else knowing that I went through the most ridiculous student teaching ever, and came out all the better for it.


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