Silent Reminders: My First Time Teaching

MaureenCummingsPostBy Maureen Cummings —  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to plan and execute my first lesson in an actual high school classroom.

I’ve done the planning before and I’ve developed various types of assessments, lesson plans, activities engaging schema or emphasizing differentiation- still I had never had the chance to go in front of students for the entirety of a class period, just teaching. I think I could discuss in detail how this hour and a half felt like the complex marriage of my passion for engaging with people and the application of the various educational theories that I’ve been studying for the past four semesters coming in to fruition, but that just doesn’t seem to fully define what a series of moments that morning was for me.

When I got in my car ready to head back to Marquette after this first time teaching I couldn’t decide whether to start driving, to call my mom, or to blast some well-deserved jams- instead I just sat there. For some reason in the silence of my 2003 Buick my mind went to a quote from a favorite TV show. In the series finale of The Office, in one of his only serious moments, Andy Bernard states, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

There I was acknowledging my own sort of good ole days before I’ve actually entered them.

Its been said that when you enter into the field of education- particularly teaching- unbeknownst to many, you enter into the longest and most passionate love affair of your life.

If based simply on my past experience in schools or dialogue from my education professors- I’m inclined to believe this.

Internally I think I’ve been drawn towards teaching since the first time I set up my pink and yellow bedroom to be a classroom filled with imaginary students and my stuffed animal macaroni penguin, but I didn’t verbalize this aspiration until middle school. With a college major declared by age thirteen, I’ve had years of knowing what I wanted to do with life, and countless hours spent praying about how I will grow to become who I want to be.

In the silence of my car that morning, as I replayed the scene of my lesson back in my head, I could see how the years of knowing where I wanted to take my career palled in comparison to comfort I had realizing- I loved it.

I always thought I would love it. I dreamed I would love it. I prayed I would love it.

I had to wait years for my moment to say with even the most minimal experience,

“I created it, planned for it, executed it, and I loved it.”

An hour and half spent teaching a drop- in lesson to a group of students who were most likely specifically instructed to act engaged by no means reflects what it looks like to be a teacher. I know this. I see the challenges educators face every day from many fronts whether it be with their students, administration, their school district’s funding- the list goes on and on.

Accepting those realities was something I did the day I signed myself up for the School of Education- like any college student in any major does. We accept the challenges first because we can see those, read about them, dissect them, interpret them, and decide if we are up for them.

It’s our passions we sign off on a whim. I chose to become an education major because I thought so many things about how teaching is the life purpose I want. I concocted a passion so believable that I wasn’t the only one falling for it.

How would I have known I was passionate about teaching- I had never done it?

I signed up for education with the knowledge that I love people and their stories. I’ve always been more inclined to solve the problems on someone’s heart than those that can be calculated on a computer. I knew my strengths almost by means of elimination based on my familiarity with my weaknesses. I loved literature while in school and saw its impact on my own quality of life. I loved writing and found a sick joy in the rhythms and rules of grammar and syntax. I wanted to share these passions with young people one day- so I decided on education.

I chose my major knowing I wanted to be a teacher, but not because I knew I would love the actual act of teaching.

As one who has always been a big believer in step-back- take-a-deep-breath-this- instant-may-be-bigger-than-me- moments, I realized I was having one that morning in the silence of my car- getting all excited for the good ole days ahead of me.

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