Well, a conversation with an intern teacher today reminded me of myself during my first year of teaching: tired, frustrated, scared, and truthfully…clueless.
I think back to those days and wonder how someone so seemingly well prepared could be so out of touch. I had three wonderful student teaching supervisors, 18 weeks of student teaching in kindergarten, first grade, and special education, and plenty of observation hours. Still, when I accepted that second grade teaching job, I was lost. Totally lost.
I remember a veteran teacher laughing at me because I had given a math pretest on the first day of school. I didn’t know any better. A pretest was mentioned. It seemed like the right thing to do…
I remember bringing boxes of work home, piles of papers…and just spreading them out on the floor of my living room on Beech Street. I was 21. Young, single, and wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into.
I bought coloring books to keep my students busy. Yes, I did. I know.
I wandered the long hallways of that school at night after all of the other teachers went home. I was too afraid to ask for help. I thought I was supposed to know what to do. I was looking for clues.
Then the best thing happened. I got the flu. It was a bad case, and I was out for over a week. I remember not even bothering to measure the cough syrup…I just took a swig and settled back into the depths of the couch, thankful for the reprieve of life and responsibility.
When I did return, some teachers told me they thought I had quit. I had not formed any friendships on that campus yet, and no one knew that I never quit. Oh, I was back all right. And, I owe all the thanks to the substitute teacher.
She left the plans she made while I was gone. I read them and started piecing the days together, realizing those stacks of coloring books on the shelf had to go. I started filling up the hours with lots of engaging activities and stories and art. Real art.
I found my way and I made it. So will this intern. She just needs to keep showing up. Day by day, she’ll find her way. Teachers always do.