Friday, March 14, 2014

A Confession

I have a confession.

Somedays I think to myself, "All the jobs in the world and I want to be a teacher!" 

Then other days I think to myself, "All the jobs in the world and I want to be a ... teacher?"

So... I question my career choice sometimes. This typically occurs when one of my three field experiences this semester becomes quite frustrating, but every time these feelings arise, something happens that immediately puts everything into perspective for me. I know these moments are precious. These are the moments that drive me every day to pursue a career that promises little recognition nor money. I want to document one moment in particular that happened this week for my future self to look back on, as a reminder of why there are all these jobs in the world and I am choosing to be a teacher.

So my story begins. 

As mentioned earlier, I am currently doing three field experiences. Field experiences are what my college refers to as you going out to schools and working with the students. Last semester I did my first field experience which was basically me being a teacher's assistant, making copies, twiddling my thumbs, and telling the same little girl every day that no, I did not know her cousin's girlfriend's best friend that also happened to go to my school. 

But this semester. This semester is different. This semester I am actually teaching lessons. 

And that my friends, is a whole other ballgame. 

Now I am not sure if it was the fact that I am doing three different field experiences, with three different grades, three different subjects, at three different schools and stressed beyond measure OR the fact that I was sick this week with some sort of gosh awful cold that was of course given to me by one of the gremlins in the above mentioned schools, but my patience level was quite low.

So this incident happened at my 4th grade field experience. For this field experience, I work with nine 4th graders on Language Arts twice a week for 1 hour for 4 weeks. We are making treasure maps of the South West United States and using them to write action stories (they are currently working on their active writing skills.)

Out of my nine 4th graders I was blessed with 7 boys. 7 boys I tell you. 

One of these 7 boys, we will call him M-dude, decided to test my already low patience level this week. 

M-dude would not draw his map.
M-dude would not fill out his 4-Square worksheet.
M-dude would not use his 4-Square worksheet to write his action story (like I so perfectly planned out in my lesson plan.)

Here is what M-dude did do:

He went to the bathroom to wash his hands.
He came back from the bathroom, only to say 5 minutes later that he needed to go to the bathroom.

M-dude: Can I go to the bathroom?
Me: You just went to the bathroom?
M-dude: No I didn't.
Me: Yes you did. 
M-dude: I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, but I didn't go to the bathroom. 
Me: Alright, yes you may go to the bathroom *cue huffy sigh.*

Here is an extended list of everything else M-dude did:

- Sharpened his pencil for 5 minutes
- Asked to trade his pencil (that was now just a nubbin) for a longer pencil
- Get multiple drinks of water 
- Distract my other 8 students
- Wreck havoc 
- Everything else you can think of besides: drawing a map, filling in his 4-Square, writing his story

And I told M-Dude "Pop a squat and get to work!"  "Please sit down and focus."

Did it work? Nope.

So finally, I sat down on the floor next to M-Dude and we had a talk. 

And this is more or less what I told him.

"I know this isn't as important to you as it is to me and that's okay. I know that you know that you aren't getting a grade for doing this, but I am. I have to turn in everything you do for MY grade. I have tried to help you by making this as fun and easy as possible for you, but I need you to help me become a teacher. I need you to work hard. I don't even care that the first place on your map is a sewer, but I need you to write the best sewer story I have ever read in my entire life."

Then M-dude looked up from the ground, stared straight at me, and do you want to know what he said? Guess what this child says to me.

"I would never let you get a bad grade 'cause I would take the blame for it."

BOOM. There it is.

One of those moments where I remember why I want to be a teacher.

Can you imagine a world in which adults handled all confrontation simply by "taking the blame for one another." 

"Oh don't worry that our sales are low team mate, I'll tell the boss that I take the blame for that one!"

No, just no. 
That doesn't happen. Because we are adults. We are old and greedy and selfish because we have lived in this world long enough to know that if you don't look out for yourself you end up getting screwed over in the end.

But you see, kids don't think like that. They are so protected and innocent and vulnerable. They make this world a better place to live in. Why would I not pick a career where I would be surrounded by that every single day?

After that, M-Dude sat down and wrote his sewer paper. It was disgusting, grammatically incorrect, and barely legible, but he wrote his paper and I could not have been more proud.

So there's my story. I wanted to share that, just as much for myself as for you guys. This is for me to look back on when I am having one of those days where I think to myself, All the jobs in the world and I want to be a ... teacher?"

Yes. Yes I do.