Summer Vacation: Lessons Learned

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It’s summer break!  Technically I’m in the middle of summer quarter and have loads to get ready before I leave for study abroad in two weeks, but I’m still living in summer break land.  I am savoring this last chance to relax before my summer of academic madness and awesomeness: study abroad in Mexico for a month, come back home for three days, move across town, and start the first leg of my student teaching internship — all before September starts!

In the interest of self-growth and preservation, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned this year.  Not so much what specific techniques or academic knowledge I’ve learned, but what will really serve me in a bigger way.  Here are my top three lessons from this past school year:

1. Teacher burnout is very real.  This Spring I had some major life changes.  They were all for the better, but all of a sudden I just wanted to throw in the towel on teaching — and I hadn’t even started!  Teaching is high-demand and teaching well takes a lot of dedication.  sometimes I just didn’t feel like I had it in me.  I am excited to work with my cooperating teacher next year because in our screening interview she talked about the importance of balance in order to keep from burning yourself out on teaching.  I hope to pick up some valuable ideas and habits from her in that regard.  For more on warning signs of teacher burnout and tips to avoid it, see this Edutopia post

2. C’s get degrees (Joking). I would be very disappointed in myself if I got a C — I don’t honestly think I’ve ever had one.  But if I tried my hardest and learned a lot and still earned only a C in a class, that’s not the end of the world.  Until this year, I had a ridiculous string of 4.0’s.  I stopped even thinking about checking my grades because with my perfectionism, I always knew what they were.  But then it happened, the first A-… in P.E. nonetheless.  After giving myself about 90 seconds to freak out, I moved on.  I had learned a lot from that class about how to incorporate movement in to my future classroom, and wasn’t that what mattered?  I worked my rear off this Spring in the final course in the Math for Elementary Educators series and only got a B+.  I’m going to make it, guys.

 3. A “Teacher Buzz” is one of the most rewarding feelings ever.  Seriously.  I got the biggest rush off of my first team teaching a science lesson.  Things didn’t go according to plan — we were done with twenty minutes to spare but wanted to keep the students engaged in learning about space science.  Using what we had on hand (books full of pictures of space, a document camera, and a life’s worth of random knowledge), we had each table share their favorite picture on the document camera while I and my co-teachers talked about what was happening in the it.  While it may not seem like much, it was so exciting to see the students so excited and to keep the focus going in the classroom.  That is why I am becoming a teacher.

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