Wednesday, April 17, 2013

exit interviews

I saw my professor from the first semester of my studies as a grad student this morning, and then it dawned on both of us that we were both there for the interviews.

Was I nervous?

Does someone flip or wreck a car on the Parkway west almost every morning? I'd have preferred being with  the class of 24 right at that moment (especially since that moment was about the middle of reading and they're reading The Dot this week) A wrecked car could have accurately described my emotional state at that moment. Especially if there was steam or smoke involved.

You'll be fine. Just be yourself; this is a time to celebrate everything you've done with your kids- I can't wait to see what you did!

Be yourself... in the same way that honestly is not always the best policy. Truly, there are times when being yourself and being honest are the worst ideas ever.

I ended up going last, which gave me time to think about how I would respond to any of the questions they might ask me. Except that I wasn't prepared for the one that they did ask me. More on that later. We had 7 minutes to prepare a presentation. And if I had a hard time judging what 5 minutes was like in the classroom, I had no idea what 7 minutes was supposed to feel like. Clearly, something I should probably nail down. My grammar was appropriate - no usage of the word "like" every 5th word, and no "me and my cooperating teacher" [come back to 1st grade, I've got 24 students who can tell you how it's done]. I talked about the contraction lesson, and how I carried it through the semester until it came up in the manual and I knew the kids enough to really differentiate the instruction. I talked about the growing of the lima beans, and how I brought in tulip bulbs for the students to see and relate to what they were reading in the book. And I did a quick mention of a review game that we played, because the first grade got overly competitive over a review game once, so I needed something else that engaged everyone as a means of review before a break.
Nerves. Were. Killing. Me.

Aside from impressing a biology teacher and a former 1st grade teacher, I can't remember why I didn't snag someone's completed test from the life cycles unit, but I do know the gradebook had me stymied on how to print the grades for the whole class, so I had to offer verbally what the students got.

My other question was "What did you find difficult about student teaching? Were there any difficulties that arose through this process?"

This sounded like one of those "This is what we're really asking" questions from a list I have somewhere. I wish saying something snarky like, "Read my blog" would have sufficed. Except that it would have been completely inappropriate, no matter how stress relieving to say. Life happens to people. I could have had a brain tumor, and I still would have been in that building giving it everything I had, and trying not to make excuses. How would I even formulate that response? In a nutshell:  my body was out to get me, my nickname was about to become "accident prone" and my personal life was falling to pieces? But I was going to be damned before I fell on my face and let my co-op down?

Honesty. Maybe not the best policy.

While I did this, I watched my mother teach and say goodbye to her father, which was a far harder row than I was working. I have nothing to comment on, about difficulties student teaching in the classroom. Because I know when it's my turn to have a full time job, the truth is going to be just as stranger than fiction in my personal life as it was this semester, and I've got to check it at the door. That's not teaching, that's life, no matter where you work.

So I talked about time management. Which is a problem for everyone. I could have talked about behaviour management, which is a problem for everyone. Anything I mentioned I'm certain could have been related to the other members of the cohort in some way; we've all been there.

Difficulties? Absolutely, there were difficulties. There were a myriad of unique circumstances that required special thought and attention. The important thing for me to remember is to handle the situation with grace and tact, and to seek assistance when things get choppy and move beyond my capacity to handle them alone.

So now I am exited. I have my cap and gown and hood. It's all over but the shouting.