Archive for November, 2007

Bittersweet Goodbye

I do apologize for my lack of entries over the last 4 months. This has been a very tough semester, and in many ways, I felt I was too emotionally involved to write about it objectively, if that makes sense. Now that the situation is past, I can share it more easily.

In August, I started my senior year at Radford University, and with that came Blocking. Blocking is the first part of the field experience for Elementary Ed majors, with the other part being Student Teaching. Blocking consists of a full-time load of courses, plus about 20 hours of work in an elementary classroom each week. All of this adds up to 18 credits of coursework, but when you add all the homework and work you do planning lessons, etc for your classroom, it really should be about 30 credits! I was nervous going into Blocking, but was confident that I could do it.

The year started off very well! I was placed in a 5th grade class with a stellar group of kids. The class had 21 students, and although 7 were gifted, and 7 were identified as “disadvantaged,” all the kids were so bright that I couldn’t pick out which were which. Everything seemed to be going well until the first meeting with my  supervisor  (a faculty member at Radford) and Cooperating Teacher (CT, the teacher of the 5th grade class I was in). My CT told me she had some concerns, and was not sure if I’d be ready to teach my Social Studies unit at the end of the semester. They told me a lot of things I needed to work on. Although I was very disappointed that things were not going better, I knew I could not let it get me down. I went home and really tried to take the concerns they expressed and work on them with all I had.

It was at this time that my supervisor took me to meet a teacher in a nearby county who uses a wheelchair. This woman is amazing! She is so much more limited than me in terms of physical abilities, but when it comes to her classroom, she has no disability! She was able to give me a lot of advice and wisdom about things I need to keep in mind and prepare for as a teacher with s disability. The visit was a great success, not only because of all the things I learned, but also because I walked away with a new confidence, knowing that if this lady can do it, I can definitely do it!

I went back to my elementary school and continued to work, trying to prove to my supervisor and my CT that I was ready to student teach in January. Unfortunately, things did not improve. I was trying, but it did not seem to be working. My CT and I just did not see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I didn’t feel like she was going to pass me on to Student Teaching. But I couldn’t give up and had to keep trying!

Several weeks passed. I got the opportunity to sub for my CT all day, and I definitely learned a lot! Things seemed to be going a little better. But then, a few weeks ago, my CT and I had a big misunderstanding that we couldn’t seem to work out. It became clear that it would be difficult for us to continue working together. And because neither she or my CT  felt I was ready to student teach next semester, my supervisor recommended that I take an incomplete in my Blocking course and start over at a new elementary school next semester.

So, Thursday November 15th was my last day at this particular elementary school. In a way I was glad to leave, but it was also hard. I was working in a classroom with 21 great kids that I love, and attending classes with 17 other wonderful interns that have become my friends. It is sad to leave all that behind. 😦

Next semester, I will Block again, at the same elementary school where the teacher I observed works. I am very excited to be able to work in closer contact with her because she will able to support me in a way other teachers can’t. I am also very appreciative of my supervisor, who had to pull a lot of strings for me to be able to Block again. Usually my department does not like to let people re-block, but they’re letting me because my supervisor told them she believes in me. 🙂

Through all of this, I have done a lot of crying and a lot of praying. I started off the semester confident that I would get through this and graduate in May. When others around me were struggling, I passed all my (4) licensure exams on the first try, and took this as a sort of confirmation that I was on the right path. I thought this semester would be no different. Instead, my confidence wavered and even disappeared several times, and is still not back to what it was. But I just have to trust that this whole situation was for the best and will make me a stronger teacher (and person). In the words of Mr. Darcy, “I will conquer this!”


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