You know, there are really some things that you can’t ever be fully prepared for. When I got married, I understood cognitively what people were telling me about how different and difficult it can be to get adjusted to, but it didn’t help after the wedding when I was confronted with the reality of the situation. Similar was my experience becoming a father, and parenthood continues to surprise and challenge me daily.
Teaching is exactly the same way. I’ve known for a while that being a teacher is hard – and that the whole idea that “Those who can’t, teach” is a load of crap – and I’ve known that it’s something I really want to do, but being a teacher is another deal entirely. There is just so much stuff to get a hold on, and I’m afraid that I’m not fully doing it. My co-op really is being nice about it – firm, to be sure, but very nice. I really feel like I’m failing miserably, and no amount of reassuring me that “You’re not supposed to have a handle on this yet” is going to make me fine with that. Maybe it’s a little of wanting things to come naturally, maybe a little that I’m a perfectionist, but probably the main reason is that I feel like I’m letting students down, and I don’t really buy that my inexperience rationalizes that.
Am I being too hard on myself? Almost certainly, but I imagine it’s a futile task to tell me that. What I have right now is sort of an irrational fear that I will simply fail at this whole teaching thing, despite being so passionate about it and so convinced that I have the abilities to help me work everything out. Part of it is that I fear that I will know what I should do and simply be unable to do it, which would be far worse than simply not knowing what to do – that can be learned.
So I’m trying to buckle down a little. I have research papers starting to come in and a large project to finish grading before those come in with force on Tuesday, and I also have to plan ahead for at least a week of instruction so I’m not spending a whole lot of time each night on planning that I could devote to grading those papers. It’s a good thing it’s a three day weekend, most definitely.
Additionally, I’m trying to structure my planning a little more strictly, even to the point of working out specific lesson objectives (which no one is requiring me to do at this point except for days I’m observed by my university supervisor) and spelling out my set inductions for each lesson. This does seem a little bit arduous, and certainly I griped enough about jumping through that hoop for my education courses, but I’ve decided to try the method and see if it works for me. Something needs to work, and I’m willing to take a stab at whatever seems to make sense.
Tomorrow is fortunately a half-day, so I don’t have as much to teach tomorrow, but I must take advantage of this time.
I do hope this fear is unfounded. But whatever it takes, I will not let this become a self-fulfilling prophecy.