Monday, June 13, 2011


Student teaching is done. I know I sort of stopped posting here, but it's because I really had no time. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as I didn't pass.

I went into science teaching because I had this amazing passion for science, and wanted to share with the world how amazing this stuff was. I was placed in a middle school in a rural area, and found that for the most part, students really didn't care. They were not self motivated, and the main focus became classroom management.

I am terrible at classroom management. I knew I would be, which was why I chose to try middle school first, hoping that by throwing myself to the lions, I would somehow survive and be better off for it. That was a mistake.

I was inconsistent on discipline, I became overwhelmed and missed stuff, I froze up and forgot the details of everything I had planned, and tended to be hyperfocused, meaning I often was very bad at juggling 20 things at once. The kids realized they could throw me off, and lost respect for me completely, and I lost what little control I had over the classroom. It was just bad.

So, that's it. I'm a terrible teacher. My ability to teach is good, but my ability to manage middle schoolers isn't. It's really frustrating, as I feel that both the students and I lost some amazing opportunities to do science, but very early on I lost a lot of faith in them- I did a DNA extraction lab, which was fairly advanced for their grade level, but I thought it would be a good experience for them to do a bit of real science. Well, after informing the students that they were not to drink the chemicals as they were toxic, one of the students did, and threw up. I lost a lot of hope at that point, and just decided to stay with more safe activities, and basing everything around the standards.

Still, the problems kept on getting worse and worse, and I got observed on a Friday the 13th, with my worst class. The observer told me that it wasn't going to work out, and I was placed back into a supportive role in the classroom, and my student teaching career was ended. I will not be getting my teaching certificate this year.

So, that leaves me in a very frustrating position. I realize that I lack many of the skills a teacher needs, so I question whether or not I should pursue student teaching again next year. The possibility of sub teaching for a while has been brought up, but most of the districts now require all subs to have a teachers cert, due to the overpopulation of unemployed teachers. If I am able to get a job as a sub teacher, I would possibly consider doing student teaching again, assuming I was getting better at classroom management. However, if that isn't working out, I'm looking at some other options.

No matter what the case, I intend to finish my masters degree. I'm practically done with it, I need a handful of classes, and then I will have the degree. However, the real conundrum is what I do after that. If I can't teach, that severely limits the possibilities for employment. There are textbook publishers, corporate trainers, and various administrative positions, but the competition for such jobs is insane.

One possibility that has been coming up more often than not is pursuing another MEd, and possibly a PhD, in school psychology. I have my BA in Psych, and over four years of children's mental health experience. If I were to do the school psychologist route, it would mean more schooling, but one thing I have realized is that I love being a student. I'm very good at it, and I'm honestly happiest when I'm learning and working with complicated, theoretical things. And a possible implication there is that perhaps I need to find a niche, where I can simply be an expert on something complicated. Chances are the best way to go about that is pursuing even more education, and throwing myself even further into debt.

Still, I stand by something my mother, a neurospecialist, told me- She started out as a floor nurse in a hospital, and was miserable, mediocre, and just bad. It sounds a lot like my student teaching experience. Eventually, she got her masters, and is now a movement disorder specialist, and is incredibly happy with her work. She, knowing me fairly well, things I'm exactly the same way- I need to just have my little niche where I can get away with being a bit of an odd absent minded scientist type, because, in the end, I know my stuff.

In any case, my goal for the next few months is to get in touch with people involved in various areas I'm interested in, and possibly pursue some internships or job shadows. I also hope to find some work doing research, as most graduate programs like to see that.

So, it looks like I'm back on square 1 again. I've learned a lot about my weaknesses and strengths, which is good. Still, this has been a pretty major blow, and despite all attempts to stay positive about it, I can't help but feel a bit down about it all. That, and I just lost another grandparent. This year has been very bad for grandparents- I have lost three this year, at a rate of one per three months, almost like clockwork. The one that just went was a huge inspiration to me, a teacher turned college professor and war hero. I wanted to follow in his footsteps to some degree, although since he died I've realized that the reason he became a college professor wasn't because he was a teacher, it was because he was a genius at something. If I want to do that (which I do, I would love to teach at a college level, the idea of being able to get as abstract as I want and have consistently motivated and mentally capable students appeals to me greatly), I have to become great at something, so I suppose that is my next step, figure out what my passion is.

Thankfully, I have a head start on that- psychology. During my 4 years working in mental health, I got burned out. Rightfully so, the job was a mix of social worker and mental health worker, and was emotionally exhausting. Still, the problem was that it was a simple job- I was working in the trenches, and didn't really get to do any real counseling or psychoanalysis, the cool, interesting stuff. Having realized that, I want to get back to my dream of becoming a psychologist, one I had forgotten about after the burnout, and start my path towards fixing people's minds.

Anyway, that's where I am now. The world is open, and that's a very scary thought.