At the beginning of each new year it is custom to create a list of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. Last year my best friend and I drove across the country from South Florida to Los Angeles.
Of course there were dreams I was hoping to fulfill once in California. Dreams of renting an apartment with my best friend, getting a job in Hollywood behind a camera, and just accomplishing what I thought I wanted to achieve at that time.
After weeks of jumping from random places to stay, we fell flat on our faces. I ended up having to find a cheap room to rent off Craigslist, while my best friend had no choice other than to drive up north to Oregon. It’s been eight months since I arrived in California and I’ve worked three different minimum wage jobs, drove for a delivery app service, and found a few PA jobs in the area. For months, I was living under the motto of if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. My Jeep got the death wobble and I spent months going to different places to try and get it repaired. I tried to go the cheap way and ended up with a faulty repair. If I had driven one more mile of the highway the tire would have fallen off and it could have taken my life, as well as the people around me.
All of this was happening while I was living in a small room with no air conditioning, in a little house full of families who spoke almost no English at all. Now some may look at this entire experience as a failure. I mean I did have higher expectations, but I firmly believe everything happens for a reason.
These past months I’ve been pointed in a completely different direction of where I originally wanted to go. While jumping from job to job and experiencing Los Angeles, I found a passion. A passion in which I might have never found if I had not taken a leap of faith and made the 2,500 mile journey here.
So at the beginning of 2017, I have a new set of goals. As I get further and further into my transition it is becoming more apparent that the transgender community is experiencing a lot of hate and ignorance. I want to make a difference. I want to change and educate the way society views transgender individuals. You might be asking how? It’s quite simple. I came out to California wanting to work in film because I love being behind the camera. But Hollywood films really don’t spark any interest in me. I’d rather create films that have a purpose and can do some good in this world.
I honestly have no idea where I’m going to begin and how I am going to execute this dream, but that is what this year is for. So cheers to 2017 and turning dreams into reality.
My friends that are not education majors believe that my final semester in college is basically five months of free time.
After all, I am never on campus, and I do not have exams. Obviously my semester of student teaching is a breeze, right? WRONG.
Student teaching is basically three months of you paying college tuition to hold a full-time job that you do not get paid for, and even if you did get paid for it, the paycheck would be dismal.
To most people, it sounds like your basic unpaid internship- a natural right of passage for every college student. However, student teaching is beyond that.
Then somehow in an hour and half, you find a way to look like an adult, disguise seven snacks as your lunch, and prepare your body for the day ahead the only way you know how-caffeine. But unlike college courses taken on campus, you step into school and have to be on it.
Good morning! Are you going to have a great day today? Walking feet, please! There is no grace period of waking up; there is no sitting in the back hoping not to be noticed.
As a student teacher, you are sitting in the front row, constantly raising your hand. And then there is the fact that you are in this weird student/teacher purgatory area, where you are still a student, but you want to be treated like a teacher, even though your students think differently.
There have been several momentous attempts to convince my students that they only need to be concerned with the “teacher” half of my title. It is hard to do when 22 fifth graders think they are the same age as you because you are not married with kids. Most likely, my five foot three stature makes me seem a little less intimidating.
Despite America’s great attempts to educate our youth equally, I have only seen those attempts fail, even though I root for them with all my soul. However, I am going to transform those attempts into realities that allow students to be prepared for the world they will one day shape.
But as demoralizing as student teaching and education can be at times, 22 fifth graders have also taught me more than any college class ever has. Monday through Friday, free of any charge, you can see student teachers perform high energy and engaging routines for eight hours a day [plus or minus the 5 hours we spend before or after school] for an audience that is more interesting in “dabbing” than the Depression.
So the next time you think education majors have it easy with their Pinterest crafts and story time, remember that we are working at least 60 hour weeks trying to be a teacher, while still having the assignments of a college student, only to be paid in eye rolls, tears, middle fingers, and the occasional “OMG! I get it now! It was hard, but I get it now,” which makes it all worth it.
STANDARDIZED TESTING, the huge buzzword right now in education, the most controversial topic regarding education in the government. Our whole education system is currently centered on a high stakes network of tests whose original purpose was to evaluate student success. As an educator, it’s what our whole year is based around.
Everything rides on the scores that your students receive: school accreditation, student advancement, and (the scariest of all) your career. Incidentally, the stress that a teacher may feel can sometimes pale in comparison to what students experience.
Test anxiety is a very real problem and the push from standardized testing is only making it worse. However, I don’t really want to write a piece about why standardized tests are bad, nor do I want to write an article about how badly my students need to pass. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if my students pass their SOLs….
I don’t care if my students pass the SOLs because the tests aren’t everything. My favorite example is, “Oh another day went by and I still didn’t use Algebra.” However, there are other skills I can teach my students that they will use every day and something that they absolutely need to know: How to be a good human being.
Yes, surprisingly the first things you take away from school aren’t the ABCs, how to multiply decimals, or the life cycle of a butterfly. I believe the most important things that students take away from the classroom are their perceptions about how to treat other people and how their actions can influence others. I feel that I have the obligation as a future educator to provide my students with the ability to function in society. If I can send a group of students on into the world knowing one thing about how to treat others, then I’ve been successful.
The best way I feel like I can provide this is to show my students and to model for them the behaviors of good people. I’ve heard so many horror stories from people about teachers who made them feel worthless or upset all the time.
I had a student in my student teaching placement that just had such a hard time being nice to others. He was snarky and rude and made other students upset. One day I had just had enough and I pulled him into the hallway. As I was about to become the mean teacher, I stopped and thought to myself, “How could I fix this problem?” I realized that making this student feel shameful for not knowing how to act toward others would make me the one who should feel shameful.
Yelling at him for not understanding wouldn’t solve this problem and the only thing I would be teaching him would be to make others feel bad for not understanding.
So instead I asked him why he treated others the way that he did and coached him on different ways that he could handle his frustration or anger.
He was slower to snap at others, and generally more kind to other students. The day I left that classroom was so difficult because I had grown to love my students so much (I’m tearing up as I write this). That little boy cried the day that I left. I know he didn’t cry because I had taught him how to identify nouns or because he would miss how I taught him to add two digits.
I knew that I had made a difference to him because I had shown him the way that he should treat others, with compassion and fairness. So that’s why I don’t care if my kids pass the SOLs, because I’d rather have a whole classroom full of kids who know how to be kind.