It is pretty surreal sitting here at a computer and reflecting back on the final stage of my journey TO teacherhood. I suppose that I will now begin my journey OF teacherhood.
If I had to choose one word to describe my experience it would be challenging. I don't think that there has ever been a time where I paid so much money to work so hard other than my experience in Peru as a volunteer missionary but even though that was for two years I still paid significantly more for this experience which lasted 15 weeks.
There were a few times, especially in the beginning/middle that I contemplated whether it was worth it or if I could even do it. There was definitely a learning curve when it came to balancing being a teacher full-time, a husband and father, and completing my graduate research. Now, looking back I can confirm that, yes, it was definitely worth it and that I could not have done it without the support of my wife, the Penn State University supervisors, and my cohort.
In the beginning it was a struggle to build rapport with my cooperating teacher. I recognize that it is difficult to have a student teacher and to have a smooth transition into the classroom especially when you are so passionate about your work and you feel a great responsibility for your students. But by the end, I really do believe that we have a genuine friendship and a respect for one another as educators. It was a humbling experience, and one that I needed. I believe that my cooperating teacher recognized where I was at as a teacher and pushed me hard to be the best that I could be. I owe him a lot for accepting me as a student teacher and coaching me along the way.
I recognize that I still have a lot of room for improvement. Even at the end, I still struggle with classroom management, but that is sort of the beauty of the ephemeral student teaching experience: that you can move on and the mistakes you made will not follow you. I know that when I am hired to teach at a school that I will do many things completely differently especially when it comes to classroom management. I am really happy with the rapport that I was able to build with my students, especially the students who I recognized as being marginalized in the school and at home. Those students are one of the main reasons that teaching high school really appeals to me: to be able to be a role model and a mentor to students who are struggling with the myriad of struggles that beset young adults.
I took some time on Friday evening before I made my drive home to go to the back of the school and reflect on the experience that had just come to a conclusion. The sun was setting and I could hear the birds and frogs making their music. It was peaceful and I was filled with happiness and gratitude for having been able to overcome many challenges and ultimately become the quality of teacher that I am today with a knowledge that I have limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth. This is an exciting time in my life and I am very excited to see what the next chapter of my life will bring.