Hello, faithful followers!
Well, as it seems to happen with this funny thing called time, it appears 16 months have passed since I last wrote.
Apparently I tend to blog only when my life falls into a particular category, such as my New Zealand Life (see: every post up till today’s, plus my last blog). Which isn’t to say I was doing nothing in the year and a quarter in between. I was readjusting to U.S. life (i.e. remembering which lane to turn into while driving, getting made fun of for using words like “reckon” and “top up” and “eh,” and going through feijoa withdrawals). I worked for a few months as a tutor to two bright, eager-to-learn, and adorable elementary-aged girls. I resumed my job at the coffee stand, which I still love. I even joined an online-dating site (Those stories alone could constitute a blog. I settle for sending the cringeworthy profiles and pictures to friends privately on Facebook).
But perhaps most importantly, I decided to further my education by receiving my Master’s in Teaching in English, for grades 5-12.
It was a decision I’d spent a lot of time thinking about on walks around the Manawatu River. There’s something about being in another country that makes me philosophical. I think part of it is to do with knowing I have a limited amount of time there, and being sure I don’t waste it (I could watch Mad Men at home, but there’s only one place I could skydive over the largest lake in the Southern Hemisphere …). And another part was being conscious of the fact that part of my reason for returning to New Zealand was that I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so why not run away to another country in lieu of figuring it out?
So I returned to the States knowing education was something I wanted to pursue. I did some research and settled on WGU (Western Governors University). I started my first term in October.
Today was my first day of pre-clinical experience, which is a fancy way of saying I observe a teacher in the subject I want to teach. And already that experience has me wanting to blog again to help make sense of what I observed, and perhaps to be a small part in the public discourse on education (Needless-to-say, I’ll withhold identifying information and other specifics to protect the privacy of those involved.).
General Observations After Day One:
- I was shocked at the poor grammar and spelling I witnessed during student presentations. To be fair, I’ve learned plenty in this department since my high school days. But I also knew then to capitalize the main words in a title, proper nouns, etc. And how to spell “maybe.” I found myself determined to curb this behavior as a middle-school teacher, so that by high school this would no longer be an issue — or at least less of one.
- There was a huge range on the spectrum of student caring. I had to remind myself that teenagers are generally new to the realm of public speaking, but some ended sentences with “or whatever” or spoke directly to the screen. But on the other end of the spectrum, some wore suits and dresses, and thoroughly fleshed out the bullet points on the screen. But this leads to the rabbit-hole of a question, “How do you make students care?” Something to dwell on, to be sure.
- On a similar note, I found it tricky not to stereotype students after just a minute or two of observing them. My brain immediately wanted to classify them into “good” and “bad” students, and I really had to push myself away from that thinking. I could easily see how such an influence could sway a teacher’s treatment toward and grading of students. (I mean, how could an English geek like me not like the kid wearing the “Similes are like Metaphors” T-shirt?)
- My heart broke a little when a student began his presentation by announcing he was doing his on a movie “because I don’t read books.” To have given up on books so early in life seems to me a terrible thing. But then again, maybe it means he has plenty of time later in life to change his mind.
Despite these rather negative observations, I left today feeling hopeful, particularly after speaking to a handful of other teachers at the school. I hope to learn as much as I can from all of them. They all have something unique in their teaching styles that I hope to glean a little part of.