Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sometimes It's Just Tough


A couple of weeks ago I was asked to take on supervision duties for another student teacher. All I knew was that for some reason, she was not able to complete the program last year and needed only one semester of teaching time along with a complete Work Sample, to receive her MAT.
Guess I knew from the git-go that this association would be a short one. The anticipation, the body language, the lack of curiosity...all the signs were there. Yesterday, after only a couple of weeks, she made the decision not to pursue a career in teaching.
"Do we want to same everyone?" was a question posed by the director of the program I work with. We all knew the answer.
The conversation that led to this one particular student teacher not going on was surprisingly easy. Once the decision was made, the aura of relief was palatable. More than anything, this candidate had difficulty with how all consuming teaching can be. She didn't want to bring it home with her; I guess she thought it was like any job. Hardly.
So, all in all, it was a good day. When someone has a tremendous burden lifted, the change in personality is immediate.
It made me wonder, though, how many unhappy people in the profession would feel a similar sense of relief if they were allowed to make that same, tough decision. We talk all the time about easing some folks out of the profession. I remember one colleague of mine and I used to secretly consider placing want-ads and job classifieds into the mailbox of someone who was supremely ineffective as a teacher. Just to let him know it was OK to move on. Arrogant? Presumptuous? Mean-spirited? Yes, I suppose. But I'd counter with caring, supportive, enabling, as well.
This latest experience is all the more fascinating because the student teacher that is no more was young, just starting out. I have another this year who is much older; in fact, almost as old as me. He has the mental toughness and ability to be self-critical that it takes. He gets that teachers, like their students are remarkably resilient. He'll learn, in time, how truly complicated teaching and educational reform really is. Don't think so? Take a look at this:

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