You are not alone.
This is a concept I think we often forget as university students.
We work on our projects, going solo, or perhaps in a group, trying to come up with new and exciting ideas. We scour the internet, looking for some little morsel of awesomeness to integrate into our lessons or projects that will wow our professors and our classmates. We spend hours trying to re-invent the wheel and create unique lesson plans and strategies. We do this all alone.
The problem here, is that once we get out into the classroom the game changes a bit.
First, we’re not likely going to have the time to put in hours of research, inquiry and innovation into every single lesson that we teach. That’s just not realistic. Second, we’re not going to be alone in our teaching endeavors. In the schools we teach in, we will be surrounded by fellow teachers, trying, just like us, to make great lessons, to teach students new things, and get them interested in learning. Unlike us, however, many of these teachers will have many years of experience at planning lessons and teaching students, and they have a lot to teach us new teachers!
During my pre-internship experience I often forgot this. I forgot that I was in a building filled with teachers who could offer advice on how to help the students make connections with what I was teaching, how to manage “difficult” students, get students engaged, and manage a positive work-life balance. These people have done this for years, but I was stuck in my ways of university life and forgot that I can reach out for help. I forgot that a team of people can often do better than just one person on their own.
Asking for help is not something that I’m very good at. I like to think that I’m a very self-sufficient and independent person and can do things for myself. The thing is, when it comes to teaching, I mean really teaching, and not just making up “pretend” lessons for my university classes, I am in no way an expert and I still need help from those who have more experience. Luckily I have a great PLN, and I mean great. I have made a lot of friendships through my connections on Twitter and #saskedchat, but also through social groups that get together to talk about teaching, technology, and anything and everything else! I know that I will have these amazing people to turn to whenever I need, and they’ll be there to lend a hand.
There are some great articles out there that help to illustrate just how important it is for new teachers to learn from more experienced teachers. Though this one is based in the United States, I think it paints a good picture of how important it is to learn from other teachers. And this video (and the others in the series) talk about the benefits of collaborative teaching groups that reflect and plan together to ensure that students can get the most out of their learning. There are so many others out there too!
This lesson on reaching out and not going the course alone is one that I really have to take to heart in the fall when I enter into my internship. I need to remember that I’m not alone, and to branch out outside of my classroom. I need to talk to other teachers and learn their little tips and tools for success. I need to help out with school activities and get involved int he school community. I need to really chat with my co-operating teacher about teaching, about lessons, about unit plans, about everything! My internship will be my chance to really explore what teaching can be, and to learn from everyone that I can.
The prospect of going into internship is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I’m excited to get to test out my teaching abilities for more than just a lesson or two a day for 3 weeks, and at the same time I’m terrified about planning multiple units, and the prospect of teaching multiple classes a day including a three week stretch of teaching everything! I do have some level of reassurance though in knowing that I’ll have a whole team of teachers to support me. I just have to remember that I’m not alone, that it’s ok to ask for help, that it’s ok that not every lesson is amazing, and it’s ok to stumble along the way, because my teaching team will be there for me along the way.