I would like to start by thanking everyone who made my practicum a great learning experience about not only the profession of teaching, but of myself. My mentor teacher, supervisor, UVic staff and friends, my family, and each of my grade 10 and 12 students all set me up for success. Thank you all!! This success though, I don’t think I saw in myself.
Looking back over these last couple months I can now see and try to understand the stress I perceived that I was in. I guess it all started when I found out I had been accepted into the University of Victoria. I had never lived anywhere but my family home in Westbank, BC and am quite a home body. Moving away from my family and friends was terrifying, but I knew Victoria had amazing opportunities for me.
I like to believe I have always been a strong person. When stress comes my way I always try to look at the positive side of things. Often, though, this leaves me pretending to be ok. For a while life at UVic was going alright, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel and worked hard to get there. I believe it was going well because I know how to go to school. I have been going to class, and doing assignments and tests for the last 19 years.
The practicum, on the other hand, I have never done anything like. It was similar, but like having 6 hours of assignments everyday while also going to / delivering class for another 6 hours with more than 60 people expecting to learn something out of it. Weekends weren’t any better (although I could do most work from my bed!).
We have been told that after a few years teaching gets easier as you get better, but I didn’t want to float by for 5 years to find myself lost at the end of it. I realized the third monday into my practicum that this way of living was very unhealthy for me at this time. I went through the course of the week mulling over large scale questions such as “do I want to be here?” On that Friday morning I decided that I was not going to do this practicum half ass. I hated to see myself losing care for the students, and caring more about that last day.
I also had a tough time with having to grade students and dealing with classroom management. Most of the frustration has to do with the ways schools are run. I don’t believe in forced learning at specific times with specific people. Learning is something we as humans do all the time and find reward in. Even though we may rarely have to factor polymonials in “the real world,” knowing how to do it correctly is actually kind of fun. But, expecting all people in grade 11 to learn how to do it from one person they may or may not like with 29 other people with varying needs is unrealistic.
I would love to see a school offering education to people aged 5-18 where there is at least 1 teacher to every 10 students. These students would be required to be at school for 6 hours a day between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm, for 4 days a week. The students would learn broad concepts while choosing their own specific routes, and learning from whichever teacher (or outside source) they choose. Students and teachers would work together to make unit plans and lesson plans. This takes a load off of the teacher and gives students responsibility for their own learning. There would be group meetings every other afternoon where every student had an opportunity to share what they have recently learned. This school would preach community, personal responsibility, and love for learning.
Ok, ok…so I’m tired, I’m frustrated, and I’ve withdrawn from my practicum. What now? I want to hang out with my Nana whenever I want. I want to crochet everyday. I want to make some money so that I’m no longer a broke student. I want to spend time with my boyfriend, friends, sister, brother… And on top of all that I want to live life! As said before I have been going to school for 19 years straight!!!! I want to make some bad decisions in a different country, and I want to meet people who are so unlike myself that it makes me question existence. You’re probably thinking “Rachel, you can still do all of those things while in school and as a teacher,” and you are right. I need to get better at having a work life and a home life that are equally strong and balanced.
I am going to take the next few months to do these kinds of fun things, while also brick by brick building my own knowledge around education. I have accepted a summer job in which I will be planning and helping with youth programs at a horticulture centre. I am very excited to be teaching young people about the life growing around them and what they can do to help it out. This kind of alternative learning will hopefully get my passion of learning and teaching back on track. I am also planning on taking a couple courses in the fall that are pre-requisites to get into a masters of counselling psychology. I am hoping these classes will give me a different and deeper insight into teaching so that when I do my practicum again the the spring of 2017 I will have more strength to complete it. I am already very confident that my next practicum will go better than the one I had to withdraw from. I have learned from that experience and will continue learning throughout this year in order to make my next attempt a success. I hope to find a placement for this next practicum in an alternative school hopefully close to the one I described above, as I feel that is a place my resources can be best used.
Music is one of the things I lean on when I need a space to think and reflect. I can always find myself in the lyrics of Beck…
“The least I had to lose from
Is the most I seem to care
Anything should make you happy
Nothing could make you scared”