Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blast from the past

Every now and then, as you readers know, I like to pull out old journals and record my thoughts and reactions to them. Tonight is no different, and I've chosen to pull out journals from student teaching, in light of my recent (and let's face it) ongoing career sqabbles that have reared their ugly heads as of late. This entry is dated October 4th, 2004. My god has it been over five years since I completed student teaching already? Dear GOD!

I write:

It's amazing too how many different positions six year olds can find to sit. Just amazing. Is it wrong of me to be annoyed when I see five pairs of feet in the air?

To which my supervisor reading writes in response:

(Smiley face) No, Perfectly Natural! (Janneke, if you are reading this, I hope you are well and I miss your humor, insight, and encouragement...)

I continue to write:

I mean, what comes next? I never considered myself picky, but but a little consistency goes a long way. I am learning that it is important to be firm about my expectations and don't withdraw them under any circumstances.

Then, in a different color, on the same day, I write more:

Behavior management is still a weakness...I know my kids are testing me like the water in a pool now that their teacher is out of the room full time and I know that means I must stay consistent...trouble is, I don't. I have no reason why, but when it comes down to releasing a consequence, I ALWAYS hesitate. And never actually give one. I always justify it with some excuse, which usually gets put back on me. I think, "I didn't give a warning," or "My directions weren't clear enough." Ultimately, I don't want to face the consequences of giving consequences, if that makes any sense at all.

To which my supervising professor replies:

It does. (She gets me.)

I continue:

Which brings me to my next point: Self-criticism and doubt. This will ultimately be my downfall in this profession. It'll be the reason I decide to back out eventually. I find myself questioning, doubting, every decision I make in the classroom and planning lessons. Not good. Part of my stress this semester has been put on by me and me alone from hours of agonizing over plans and writing and rewriting them, only to completely re-do them when I put them into practice. I often have fears of "everything I do/know is wrong" and/or "people are thinking I'm a horrible person and why should I teach their children?

They're not pleasant thoughts, but they run through my mind every now and then and its all I can do to keep them from invading and taking over. Because they do, and I can't think of anyway to stop them. Better go prepare for tomorrow, and I don't have time to be creative.

Oh my goodness was I right on in the prediction. I found myself wrestling with a lot of these management issues and consequence issues this semester while teaching first graders after school. And my self-doubt has, if I may say so, grown worse. What does one do in a situation where no personal or professional growth has taken place in five years?

I suppose if I had supportive mentors during my first year teaching I could ask them about consequences without feeling judged like my job was on the line, which ultimately, it was. Why does all of this seem so painful, even now? Why can't I confide in anyone even now about such issues?

The only thing keeping me sane now is the fact that I have less responsibility teaching than I ever did, and I must say, I will remain an assistant for quite a while. I think I'm OK with that. Even if I were to switch fields, the self-doubt will still continue to plague me in ways that I can't imagine.

How does one deal with such a situation?

How have you readers faced your own doubts about life and the future?

Do you have similar situations in your own career paths that will eventually cause you to stall in professional growth?

Please discuss as much as you feel comfortable with.
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