Here I am at the end of my student teaching semester, and I can tell you with full confidence: I am a fundamentally different person than I was 4 months ago. I expected that my student teaching experience would change me--mold me into a better version of myself as a teacher and life-long learner--but I never fathomed that it would so drastically alter the evolution of my person.
Four months ago...
- I was not a happy person. Stress was ingrained into my soul. Every part of my life was somehow negatively touched by stress in a way that made me constantly on edge and agitated, regardless of the context.
- I was overworked. I didn't know how to say no, or value my own well being in the midst of everything that I felt need to be achieved. I assumed problems that were never mine to begin with, internalized and antagonized over them, and this undoubtedly contributed to #1 (see above...).
- I was academically fatigued. From August 2010 to August 2012, I had been taking college and graduate level classes for essentially 24 months straight. In that time period, I took almost 100 credits of college and graduate level classes. I completed the bulk of two university degrees in that time period. I was desperate for a life that no longer revolved around readings and papers of my own doing, and terrified that I had ruined my love for learning by so long immersing myself in a structured academic environment.
- I was questioning most everything about the choices that I had made in my life, leading up to my student teaching. I felt like I was on a precipice--that first day of student teaching was going to prove the last 3 years of my life either a gargantuan waste of time, or reinforce that teaching is what I am meant to do.
I have come to realize that many traits I once would have assumed to be fundamentally true about myself are, in fact, malleable and evolving. They are in my power to shape and control.
- I am a happy person. I have the ability to choose what I focus on and put my energies into. And if I choose a positive outlet to focus on, like running, teaching, my students, and my relationships, there are few things that can bring me down in life. Stress is of my own making because I decide how to respond to my circumstances.
- I am responsible for no one's problems and work but my own; I have choice and autonomy in what I do with my time. I learned how to say no. I developed a clear set of priorities. I let people in to my life who supported those priorities, and did not push me into things that were not in my best interest. I finally learned how to look out for me.
- I will never stop loving the process of learning. Having the chance to teach students about a subject that I love has taught me even more about the content. It quickly became clear that if you want someone to retain and value the material you are trying to teach, you need to know the subject even better than you expect them to. For this reason, I will never stop learning or engaging in the process of acquiring knowledge that interests me and I am passionate about. That is an entirely joyous realization!
- Teaching is what I am meant to do. I have made choices in my life that have lead me to this place, this moment, and this feeling; I do not regret a minute of it.
And I cannot wait.