Being a teacher is hard. Really hard.
I just started my practicum for BYU last Monday. A practicum is very similar to student teaching; you're out in a public school teaching (not as much as when you student teach) little kids and figuring out the best way to be a teacher. You get exposure to what it's really like to be a teacher. And it's tough.
This past week has been one of the worst, most difficult weeks of my entire almost 4 years of college. I have had a lot going on this week, and to top it all off, practicum started. It just has stressed me out so much. I'm usually pretty calm and composed, but somehow this past week, I couldn't keep my cool like normal. I had a breakdown on Thursday night. I just felt like I couldn't go another day. I really wish that I could say that I'm ok and that everything is going great. But honestly, I can't. My life is crazy right now.
I never realized what it would take to become a teacher. Before I even started my program at BYU, I honestly thought it wouldn't be too bad, that being a teacher was going to be close to a walk in the park. I mean, I'm smarter than K-3 graders, right? Therefore, I should be able to teach them, no problem! Wrong. So wrong.
I have been out in a public school for 3 days. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. And I can say with absolutely positivity: TEACHING IS HARD. So hard! There is so much that goes into it. I mean, it's not rocket science that we're learning. It's not physics or engineering or anything that requires us to figure out some equation that no one has ever figured out before. No, it's nothing like that. It's all about lesson plans, planning the curriculum, adapting your teaching to fit the needs of 28 students, teaching so that you're engaging the students, working and collaborating with a team of other teachers, finding the time to fit everything you need to teach into the day, adapting to interruptions during class time, and the list goes on and on. I have learned so much in the 3 days that I've been out there at my elementary school. Teaching takes a huge toll on you; it takes a lot of effort.
Here's the kicker: not only have I been learning so much this week about teaching in an elementary school in my practicum, but I still have my own schoolwork to keep up on! I still have 6 classes and no mercy. It's relentless. I think the other 13 girls in all of my classes would agree. Paper after paper, reading after reading, a midterm, and so much stress, ON TOP of starting the practicum. It's not fun.
It makes me sad because I have been looking so forward to the day that I would start my practicum and I'd be able to really teach! Now, because I am so stressed and have so much on my plate, I'm almost dreading the next 6 weeks of practicum. Not because I hate teaching, but because I am so wiped out.
I was talking to my friend, Diana, at church today. She teaches math at a junior high, and she's in her 2nd year of teaching. It was so great to talk to her because she just put everything so bluntly. Guess what she said: "Don't pretend and try to put on a front that everything's ok and that you're fine because honestly, you aren't. Everything is not fine. You are stressed out, and it's not fun. The point you're at in teaching is really hard, and it's not fun." Seriously, that is exactly how I feel. Everything is not fine. I'm really struggling.
But Diana also said something else: "Eventually, you'll get to a point where you suddenly realize that all of this work and effort is worth it. One day, you'll be standing up at the front of the room, teaching, and you'll think to yourself, 'Oh my gosh, I'm doing it. I'm teaching. I'm a teacher! I'm good at this!' And it'll be worth it."
I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. What I'm doing right now is really hard. It's not fun. But I know that it's gonna be worth it. Diana said that I should start a journal of good things that happen when I teach. Good things that I did, good things I noticed, and fun times I have with my students. I think that would be a smart idea, especially on those hard days where I feel like nothing I did was right.
I've had so many great experiences in these 3 days I've been at Orchard Hills Elementary in Santaquin, UT. I love my little 3rd graders. They are so cute and so smart! I love helping them learn and teaching them to look at the world in a different way. I loved teaching little Delilah about how to multiply 12 X 3 in an easy way. I loved when Haizley came up to me and wondered if I was going on their field trip with them the next day, and when I said no, she said she wished I could come. I loved when Gabby came up to me and told me I looked really pretty. I loved helping Addison with her math problem. I had so many good little experiences. I need to remember those when my life gets crazy and hectic and stressful.
This teaching thing is hard. But I know it's gonna be worth it. Hard work pays off. Our weaknesses can become strengths. Heavenly Father is always there, and He knows how we feel and how to help us. It's going to be ok.