Without proper supplies? Yes. Once.
Doodled during class? On numerous occasions.
Stressed out? Pretty much consistently.
This is how I spent my summer vacation.
While my 6th-8th grade students were sunbathing, eating sushi and whatever tweens do these days, I was voluntarily in summer school – for teachers. Actually, the EPI (Educator Preparatory Institute) is for folks like me whose college degrees are in fields other than education. With the experience freshly seared into my almost half-century brain, the clearest lesson was realizing how hard it is to be a student. So much of life takes place outside the classroom – yet so very much takes place within it as well.
And did I mention the walking field trip? I almost left the class because I didn’t WANT to participate. My idea of fun was not to go to a cancer survivors park with people I barely knew – especially when cancer recently took my sister’s life. The park had caught my attention weeks ago. I had planned to go alone but it became our field trip destination and we were to investigate the park and talk about its symbolism. After I saw where we were headed I contemplated an escape but later decided to work through it. As I stood off to the side (don’t we all do that occasionally in life and in learning?), I told myself I could handle the experience. I’d just avoid eye contact with my classmates. Later, as I stood at the end of a miniature replica of one of Jacksonville’s bridges, a classmate came by and walked with me – figuratively and literally – from one side to the other.
How many times have my students wanted to disengage? More than I know, probably. How many of them could point to make progress with the help of a friend? All of them, I hope.
And the other complimentary facets of the EPI? Deadlines, homework and being “graded.” I even called my mom hoping to raise some cashola for my “honor roll worthy” grades. Too late, she said. The bills were paid and nothing was left.
Wow. That’s how I felt after seven weeks of school. I did the work, met the deadlines (except once, there I go again) and built a little extra arm muscle toting around my laptop computer. No, it’s not an Apple and yes, I’m sure it affected my social status.
So what DID I learn?
It always took longer to get to class than I thought it would.
Life outside the classroom affects my ability in the classroom.
I enjoy working hard because I’m proud of the results – even if mom doesn’t pay me!
I don’t mind the extra effort when I know my teacher believes I can do it.
Hmmm. I’m thinking these lessons should help refine my classroom to be a better place this school year. I’m glad.
I’m also one huge step closer to earning my professional teaching certificate.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have 7 days of summer (without school) to soak in before pre-planning calls.