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A Lesson In The Benefits of The Unexpected

March 8, 2010

When I started writing this blog, I stated that one of the things one quickly learns about teaching is that they must expect the unexpected.  I have seen this assertion reinforced in various ways throughout the last few weeks, threatening to test me and push me to my limits in every way possible.  I’ve had students underperform on tests, snow days, crazy twists in carefully planned lessons and technology break down, leaving me winging classes without a lesson plan.  Thankfully, my chaotic life paired with my unnerving ability to roll with the punches has served me well in all of these situations, proving to me again and again that I have all the tools I need to succeed in this career.  Thank goodness!  However, simply put, it has not been easy.

 I just realized that all the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph were negative.  Allow me to make this clear, not everything that is unexpected is unpleasant.  For instance, I had no idea how impressed I’d be with my students.  Every time we discuss something, they reveal a level of thought and a store of knowledge that blows me away.  BLS is a great school full of exceptional students.  I am so very lucky to have the opportunity to work with such skillful students and teachers, and for that I thank my lucky stars!

The latest curveball that came my way was really big, and it happened this week.  As I’ve alluded to before, my cooperating teacher has been very ill since I began my student teaching.  He is struggling with intolerable back pain, and actually went in for surgery on Wednesday.  I’m glad he’s getting the medical help he needs to come back healthier and stronger, but in the meantime I’ve found myself without a cooperating teacher.  My Northeastern supervisors, who have my best interest and education on the forefront of their minds, were very uncomfortable with me taking over my third class without any direct supervision.  Since this was scheduled for this week, I began to get nervous, too.  I had horrible visions of having to start my practicum over again, therefore getting my license late and not being able to teach next year.  Luckily, these fears were unfounded and everything has worked out for the best.

The reason that everything has worked out is unexpected, and has the possibility of proving to be a valuable lesson for those interested in pursuing teaching as a career.  As in most things, a lot of your success in education relies on who you know in addition to what you know.  At the beginning of my practicum, I was assigned the task of observing other teachers in action.  Both of the teachers I observed were fabulous, and one of them approached his craft in a way that inspired and intrigued me immensely.  We had a chance to chat briefly at that time, and every time I saw him in the halls after that I took the opportunity to chat and joke with him.  Little did I know, this alliance would prove to save my butt this week.

When I discovered that I was dangerously close to disaster, through no fault of anyone, rather through a series of events beyond anyone’s control, I had to think quickly.  After a discussion with the department head, I went to this teacher (my new favorite person!) to ask for a huge favor.  This is how it all happened:

Me – “Ummm, hi Mr. ____, I was wondering if maybe possibly and if you don’t want to I completely understand but it would mean the world to me and I’m begging you…will you act as my cooperating teacher while my current teacher is out, and perhaps let me take over one of your classes?” (excuse the run-on sentence)

Mr. ____ – “Of course, you nitwit!”


(his name has been omitted because I’m not sure of the laws to which I’m bound)

For now, I am incredibly relieved.  I have dodged yet another curveball, and with flying colors.  Thanks to the generosity of Mr. ____, and to my own propensity for getting to know new people, I have been saved!  What’s more, I’m starting to realize how incredibly lucky I am.  I get to see two fantastic and effective teachers at work, therefore having the opportunity to pick and choose from among their arsenals of teaching methods.  I know this will make me a better teacher, and I’m just glad that everything turned out all right.

 So, the moral of this blog is: roll with the punches, expect the best and prepare for the worst, be ready for anything, and get to know everyone.  Okay, so that’s four morals, but take it from me, teaching is too complicated for just one!

 Oh, Ginnette asked me to post a picture of Luna.  Here we are, cuddling together!

Emily and Luna

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ginnette permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:22 pm

    Thank you for posting! Your Luna is absolutely the cat’s meow! (and u r too!)

  2. Bill permalink
    March 9, 2010 11:56 am

    You future teachers should realize that none of the challenges you are facing are unique to your experiences. Some teachers go through their entire careers struggling with some of the same issues you “student teachers” you are dealing with.

    I think you might all benefit from reading this piece on research and developments in teacher education that recently appeared in the New York Times. Enjoy.

  3. Jolene permalink
    March 11, 2010 4:47 pm

    You were fortunate to “land on your feet.” Sometimes circumstances beyond anyone’s control turn out to be opportunities that would not have been available if things had worked out as planned. I would recommend reading the article posted by Bill. It has some concrete suggestions that can be incorporated into your teaching skill set immediately and some thoughts about teacher preparation programs and what it takes to be an excellent teacher that are interesting and thought provoking.

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