Sunday, May 13, 2012

Things I Wish I Had Learned as a Student Teacher

I had a student teacher this year.  She was actually a year-long intern, but she graduated from college this past Saturday so her time in my classroom is over.  I've been thinking a lot about the things I should have told her.  Here are some of the things I wish I had learned when I was a student teacher (so very long ago) . . .
  • That seventh planet from the sun?  You know, that one?  DO NOT, under any circumstances, pronounce it as Ur-Anus (with a long a sound).  It is Ur-uh-nus (short a sound).  If you forget and pronounce it with a long a, don't worry--you will not make that mistake again because you do not ever want hilarity to ensue all day long while you are stuck indoors on a rainy day with a bunch of 3rd graders.
  • Not everyone will like you.  Get over it.  There is bound to be a parent, an administrator, or a co-worker that you will clash with. 
  • When you read "The Tenth Good Thing about Barney," get the tissues ready--someone may cry and it just could be you.  By the way, when they decide to collect some PUSSY willows to put on Barney's grave, just call them "willows."  Trust me--it's just better that way.
  • Learn to smile and nod, even if you don't agree, because sometimes its just easier.
  • "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" is a great book and has a wonderful lesson and an engaging story.  However, I don't get why William Steig decided to describe Sylvester as an ass instead of a donkey.  Did he secretly want novice teachers to read straight from the text and not change that word?  Do yourself a favor and just change "ass" to "donkey."  You don't want to have to explain to third graders that an ass is NOT a stupid person but is a donkey, because then you will have multiple issues of "Joey called me an ASS" and then Joey saying "But it's just a DONKEY!"
  • You run your classroom.  You are the CEO.  The 10 months of the school year can be great or miserable, depending on how you set the tone on the first day.
  • Another word to avoid is "gay."  No matter how many times you tell the kids that "gay" means merry and lively and that they can look it up in the dictionary to see for themselves, they will still giggle incessantly every time.
  • You will have to learn to stifle your laughter when one of the kids does something inappropriate but still funny--like Michael shaking his bottom singing "I'm sexy and I know it."
  • Keep all the funny and sweet notes you get from kids and parents in a large envelope in your classroom.  You will need those to read at the end of a crappy day.
  • If a kid comes to you and says "Mary said the S word!", don't have a heart attack.  She probably said Shut Up.  The same thing will happen with the B word (butt, not bitch) and the F word (fart, not f---).
  • Learn to laugh at yourself.  You will make mistakes, and plenty of them.  You want the kids to learn that its okay to make mistakes.
  • Some days you will feel like a terrible teacher.  It's okay.  Every teacher has those days.
  • Believe you can reach every child, but do not beat yourself up when you realize that you can't.
  • Understand that "dam" (as in They built a dam to create a reservoir of water) is a funny word for children and be prepared to keep teaching right on through the smirks and snorts.
  • And finally, realize that you won't become rich with money, but you will become rich in the ways that count the most.