Since March 17, I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve probably gotten less sleep than I needed. My eating habits have been a C+ at best. But life’s actually been pretty great.
Since March 17 I’ve been student teaching chorus and general music at Avon Middle School. This is the final requirement for my teacher certification program and next week will be the fifth and final week. (ARC students are expected to have applicable experience and transferable skills behind them, unlike traditional students who would acquire them over a longer period of time spent student teaching.) I’m so happy to say that this has been one of the most eye-opening and educational experiences of my life. Not only has this reaffirmed my desire to be a teacher, but it has been the ultimate internship. Anyone in any field should be so lucky!
That’s really what student teaching is- an internship. Under the guidance of a veteran teacher, you learn about the field, educational practices, dealing with administrators and students and parents… everything your mentor would do during the course of a day you do too. And no day is like any other. Sometimes there’s student drama, sometimes kids just won’t respond to anything you do, sometimes you’ll completely deliver your lesson wrong, or sometimes the stars will align and everything go exactly as planned. You’ll meet colleagues in the department, school administrators, and other teachers. You’ll have heart-to-hearts with your mentor about what you’re doing well and what can be improved. Different skill sets you never though you’d need will come to bear, and other times you’ll have to just wing it and pretend you know exactly what you’re doing. (Plus I got my own desk! Which I promptly covered with healthy snacks, tea, and miscellaneous student papers.)
This really is the ultimate internship. It’s not like a new job where you could be dumped in the middle of a new environment and expected to learn everything on your own. Every day I’ve got people watching my back. The teachers are supportive because they’ve all been where I am now. My arts internship in 2009, while a good experience, didn’t give me a strong sense of belonging or value, and the institution didn’t hire me when I applied to work there a few years later. But my student teaching internship has more than made up for the sense of belonging and value I had been missing for years. Finally, four years out of college, I’m ready for the career I want to have. Maybe if I’d had this opportunity four years ago, I wouldn’t really have been ready. I’ve changed so much since then! But I’ve got it now, and I can’t wait to pay it forward to some new student teacher in 20 years when I’m a mentor!