This is exciting news, guys! As of this past Monday, I am no longer a teacher in my own classroom, but have instead taken on the role of “support intern” in the classroom of two of other interns. My students have officially begun sports camp, which will fill their last two weeks of summer camp, and I can tell that my experiences in these two weeks will also be vastly different than what I’ve become used to.
The first big difference is that my students now are entering the third grade, not the fifth grade. They are smaller, push boundaries less often, and seem easier to engage in activities or even writing. They also tend to speak and write less confidently in English, as many of the students in this program are English Language Learners (ELLs). It is also a different team of teachers to be working with — my colleagues in this classroom have different teaching styles and chemistry to adapt to, for example. The other thing that sets these two weeks apart from the rest is the lack of structure I find the ends of my days have. I no longer need to plan lessons or organize my student’s works/worksheets for the next day, so the two hours set aside for tasks like this are harder to fill.
I think that over the course of my four weeks as an uncertified classroom teacher, I really came into my own. I built up a level of confidence in myself and a manner in which I can interact and connect with kids that I didn’t have before. These skills translate well in a new classroom. My third-grade students seem to have respect for me and my instructions while also understanding that I am not the authority figure in the room or the main teacher in the room. This seems like a key to success with students who have troubling relationships with teachers or parents, because it makes them feel like they have a trustworthy ally in the classroom. Not to make it seem like teachers shouldn’t ultimately be regarded as allies, but some students don’t have many positive experiences with teachers to build from, and so taking on this mid-level role makes me feel like they really believe I want them to succeed, not just to follow directions blindly or get in trouble for misbehavior.
I’m hoping that my last week and a half here are as rewarding as the first four and a half were, and that I can build relationships with these students as they continue to struggle with their English, their behavior, and their desire to learn. They are curious and very intelligent, and it is becoming clear to me that the earlier educators can raise their confidence in themselves and help them channel that desire to learn, the better and brighter their futures can be.