Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Broken Heart On Valentine's Day

I don't have good news. Things are going horribly awry. 
I may have mentioned before that I don't yet have my placement for my ten week student teaching assignment, which begins one week from today! Five weeks ago when my professor decided to pull me from the student teaching assignment I'd been placed in, she assured me that I'd have a placement when the time came. It hasn't happened.
Yesterday my professor (I'll call her Professor A, so I don't have to keep saying "My Professor!") came to observe me for the second time at my internship placement. She had told me ahead of time that she wanted to observe me doing a whole group lesson. Well, the only whole group activity they do in the preschool class is Calendar, so I told her I could do that. Our calendar time is very basic, with no songs, rhyming, sharing, or other "nonsense." You just take attendance, tell them the month, the day of the week, the date and the year, and then the kid in charge of weather comes and does the weather, and finally you read a story. For this particular calendar session, Mrs. Wing also gave me a little Valentine game to do, involving counting different colored hearts, I guess to draw Calendar out a little longer so Professor A would have more to observe. 
For the most part, Calendar went well for me! For the first time ever, Ani actually said, "I'm here!" during attendance! All of the kids are supposed to say, "I'm here," but Ani usually just raises his hand. He said it, and I took that to be a great sign! Calendar went well. The weather went fine. The story was great. The game was a little haphazard because Mrs. Wing had just given it to me fifteen minutes ahead of time, and some of the pieces included were different from what was in the description that I was given to read... but it still went well. Calendar ended, and Mrs. Wing came over to describe to the kids what their cut-and-pasting activities for the day would be. 
So. Professor A wanted a short conference with Mrs. Wing, and they left the room while I ran Mrs. Wing's cutting and pasting activity for her. I was actually feeling pretty good about things, especially when Robin told me in his slow motion way, "You did good, Miss Angel!" 
Then Mrs. Wing returned to the room. Right away I felt like something was weird, because of the way Mrs. Wing said, "I think your professor wants to talk to you in the other room." 
I went into the other room. Professor A was all friendly as she told me that she thought my calendar time went well. Then she went on to say that she thought I looked too much to Mrs. Wing for direction and that Mrs. Wing stepped in too much for behavior management and for helping with the Valentine game. She said, "It doesn't seem like you're ready to really lead the class! Remember, during the ten weeks, it goes very quickly. By the fifth week, you'll be responsible for all of the teacher's responsibilities!"

First of all, this is internship, so I never thought I was supposed to be completely taking over. On the calendar we were given in class, it said by the fifth week we were supposed to have "shadowed" the cooperating teacher, interacted with students as directed by the teacher, and worked on our individual projects. Not "take over the entire class!" I swear on my soul, I've been doing everything according to that calendar and the syllabus! I've done my best not to step on Mrs. Wing's toes, and to be more of a helpful sidekick than a takeover teacher!

Second of all, Mrs. Wing hasn't really seemed open to my "taking over." Even when I tried to handle small things, she often stepped in to do it her way. She's a very experienced teacher with her own way of doing things. I pointed this out to Professor A, and she even agreed, saying that she herself was like that as a teacher, and that it can be hard for teachers to accept someone else doing things differently. 

Third of all, I pointed out that when we had a sub for a week, I did feel able to take over and do more things with the class, because my help was more needed. I assured Professor A that I thought that, if I was given the chance, I could lead a class.

Anyways. That wasn't the worst of it. Professor A then went on to say that she had looked at the long list of schools that had denied me placements, and was alarmed. She said, "There must be something wrong with your application or your resume, or maybe your transcripts! Something is making these people dislike you right away! Maybe you should have gotten help from the writing center at school."

I told Professor A that writing has always been one of my strengths, and that I never thought to seek help from the writing center. This center is more for students at my school who can barely write at all. I think I can write on a college level. The A's I receive on every single term paper or essay I turn in should prove that! (I'm not bragging... its just that I have loved writing since childhood. And since I often do poorly on tests on subjects like science and history, I depend on those essays and term papers to bring my grades up! 

Professor A continued to say that there must be something wrong with my application, or possibly something in my transcripts that people weren't liking. (The transcripts could be part of it. I get a lot of As, but I am not a straight A student, especially in mathematics, history, science, and that type of thing. I have plenty of B's and C's mixed in. My grade point average is 3.4.) She then told me that it would take a special person to be my cooperating teacher for the ten weeks, and that they would really have to work to find someone who would take me. She added that I might even need to stay in student teaching for an additional week or two. And, as I was crying internally (not outloud... on the outside I was just sitting quietly with my heart in in my hands) Professor A went on that she knew about a teacher who retired recently and that 800 people applied for her job. She said my chances would be slim for even getting an interview, if I was being rejected just for student teaching! She said some people were better off working as aides, and that she thought I was on the level of an aide because I was doing about the same types of things that Mrs. Wing's classroom aide was doing. 

Ever since then, it has been torture for me to be in the classroom. I still adore the children, of course. I made little Valentines goody bags to bring to them today, and some of them gave me Valentines as well. I love when Ani talks to me. It makes me feel like he feels safe around me, and that's a big part of being a teacher. I love when Wren asks me to play with her, every single day. I love how Robin loves to have long conversations with me when he's supposed to be working, and how even Ibis, who rarely talks, will sometimes whisper to me that he watched basketball with his dad yesterday.I love how they are always so excited to show me their shirts when they take off their jackets... they always have such great, colorful shirts! I love how even the small little 3-year-old special ed kids, in the afternoon class, who are just learning to talk, can say my name now... and sometimes just say it over and over for no apparent reason. I love how they'll hold my hand in the hallway. I love how I can make them laugh when they're about to cry. Today in the afternoon gym class I was trying to teach two little kids named Noddy and Pitta how to play catch with the gym balls. They were supposed to be taking turns tossing me their balls, and I would throw the balls back to them. Suddenly I was being pummeled by ten gym balls, because all of the kids wanted to play catch! I somehow got them all lined up in a row, and got them to wait until I said their name before they threw their ball to me. They were all giggling like crazy! We spent the whole gym time this way. Usually the teachers spend gym time sitting against the wall and talking while they watch the kids. Usually I do to... its a nice, relaxing break in the day. But I have to admit I had fun playing catch with the kids today. Even though Kokako pegged me in the face, like, five times!
I do love the kids. But it is still hard to be there. Because I just want to be at home, in bed, bawling! I want so badly to be a teacher, and I've put four years into it, including having to spend lots of money and having to ask my parents for lots of favors (such as letting my dog and cat and I live with them since student teachers aren't supposed to have jobs so I'd have no way of paying rent!) I've come so far. SO FAR! Especially considering that I was once a kid who was told I would never go to college at all, and would have to be in a special home for disabled people. Frown! Its so hard to be teetering at the edge of success, and then have it snatched away!
Please, if you are a praying person, I could use your prayers! And if you are not a praying person, I could use your positive thoughts! 
Okay, now for a funny story to lighten the mood. Today the kids got to exchange Valentines. They had white lunch bags to collect their goodies in. A lot of them included candy with their Valentines. One kid even gave each friend a small heart-shaped box of chocolates! Mrs. Wing stapled the bags shut, and the children were told that they should not open the bags until they got home and had their parents' permission. Anyways. The kids also got brownies and chocolate milk at snack time as a special treat. By the time they lined up to go home, lots of them were pretty hyper! Pewee, in particular, was in rare form. He was actually spinning around and laughing at nothing! I asked Pewee if he'd eaten too much chocolate. He said, "no." I told him, it must have been his invisible twin brother Lewee who ate his brownie! Pewee laughed like a maniac. 
An hour later, there was a call from his mother. Apparently, on the bus ride, Pewee cracked open his bag and ate all but two pieces of his candy! He was sick to his stomach! 
Okay. That doesn't sound so funny. I don't mean to laugh at a kid who got sick to his stomach. But if you knew Pewee...  the cutest, funniest, three-year-old trouble maker I'd be laughing too! 
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Thanks for listening. 


  1. Keep you head up! I can tell from your writing that you are passionate about teaching and if you truly want to make it happen, you will. Have you reviewed your application/resume since your meeting? I don't have many suggestions in regards to improving it because we just write a list of three schools we are interested in and our school places us in one, we don't have an application process. I feel that if schools had an opportunity to meet you they may feel differently. Have you thought of visiting a school to conference with a teacher and ask them in person if you could work with them?

    1. Thanks for the positive words! Unfortunately my school does not allow students to have any part of initiating a student teaching placement. We are not allowed to call, talk to, or email anyone from any school. The placement officer does it all. It is very frustrating... I am sure I could write a compelling email asking for a meeting, and send it to lots of different schools, but I am not allowed! :(

  2. Coming over for a visit from WeTeach. I can tell you, as a person who did lateral entry into the school system, that while resumes may not look inviting, meeting principals and teachers face-to-face gives you a chance for them to SEE your passion...and passion counts more than anything in my opinion. If you're passionate, you'll do what it takes to not only get the job done, but excel. I will be praying. His timing is perfect, even when we don't see it. Hang in there!

    1. Thanks for the supportive words and thanks for your prayers! You're right about perfect timing... Today, on the last possible day, I got word that I was placed at a school in the same district as my first placement, only 20 minutes from my house! This when they had been telling me to expect to go at least an hour away at this point! :D

  3. I'm so glad you got a placement!!!

    And your professor's comments don't really fall in line with a professor's role, in my mind. If you got into the program, it's their job to help you make any improvements you need to get a placement - not to tear you down after a single observation. I hope your placement goes well!


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