Yesterday was my last day of teaching practicum. We danced the weekend song for a last time. After that I had an activity with my students, titled “Celebrating being the best persons we can be.” We discussed why is important to aim being the best persons we can be (we can change our community, our country and the world by being the best persons we can be!) and how we can become the best persons we can be (be brave, be kind, be yourself…). After that I gave them ceramic medals (they made them weeks ago) that celebrated what they do best, according to themselves, so they could learn to recognize the best in everyone. Here are some pictures of the medals they modeled (I painted them and tied the ribbons):
We had “best sleeper” medals, “best dancer” medals, “best scientific” medals, “best artist” medals, “best student” medals, “best loving my mom” medals, “best gymnast” medal, “best at playing” medals… They were the best in many different things! Here are some pictures of them with the medals:
Finally, after I gave all the medals, including one medal of “best English teacher” to my mentor teacher, I gave a gift to my mentor teacher. I modeled a ceramic plate for him, with his name, inspired in the colors and forms of a world map, because that is what he did: opening a new world, a new horizon, for me. I was very thankful for and I wanted the students to know the meaning of that gift. Here is a picture of that ceramic plate (I also made a similar plate for my supervisor professor and for the dean of the Faculty of Education, who was in my final evaluation as student teacher):
This was my last class of my teaching practicum. I will be going on Monday to the school, but classes ended yesterday.
I admit that at the beginning of the teaching practicum I had fears about if I would be able to do this. Being able to teach for me is not only a matter of passing classes and mastering the subject’s material. Being able to teach is also being able to give the best of yourself, giving who you are, what you do, how you grow, what you project… in a concrete way that serves your community. That is not easy at all. As a matter of fact, I had been trying to do that since long years ago, first as philosopher, and after as a theologian. I failed both times. I had all my past failures very clear in my mind. I had very clear in my mind that my learning style is quite exceptional, that I am an intellectual woman (daring to think by your own and with your own cognitive style is always a risky business, but that is especially true if you are a woman), that my reality vision is also quite exceptional (I will write about that tomorrow)… Those are some of the biggest obstacles I faced in my past in order to accomplish learning how to serve my community.
I expected to have many troubles during the teaching practicum. The first trouble I expected were the students themselves: learning how to manage them and adapting to their level of knowledge (in the pre-practicum I needed to adapt A LOT and when I was a religion teacher I had many problems with class management). A second trouble I expected was problems with giving a class following a lesson plan (during the pre-practicum I was totally unable to do that). Another trouble I was expecting was losing things like tests or students’ stuff (I lost a test and some students’ stuff while I was a religion teacher). Other trouble I expected was problems with obeying my mentor teacher (I am not a naturally obedient person). Besides those “expected troubles”, many other things could go unexpectedly wrong, like not get along with my fellow student teachers, not get along with other teachers, methodological discrepancies or simply not being liked by my students. I had been so used of not being able to serve others that I was simply expecting that something, anything, would go wring this time too, and I wouldn’t be able to pass the teaching practicum after I passed all the necessary classes.
Another thing I expected during the teaching practicum was the need of relying in my reasonable accommodation in order to be able to do things as everyone else, as I had done through all my teaching courses.
Well, everything ended way better than I thought. I really did not have any trouble at all. I really enjoyed it and I will miss my students. I did not need to “obey” my mentor teacher: he always gave me creative freedom. Most surprisingly, I did not need to rely on my reasonable accommodations for functioning like anyone else: I had fewer attention problems while giving classes, and everyone use technology, some even more than me, so it was not an exception made only for me. There were no tests, so there was no anxiety neither.
Being able to finally discover a way to serve my community is an immense joy. After so many years discovering what I am not able to do, I had been finally granted the opportunity to discover something that I am able to do creatively and professionally, something in what I can work and give the best I can give, something in what I am not perfect (for example: my pronunciation was corrected by my own students sometimes) but in what I can learn to become better through the years, as I get more experience.
No matter how good I had been told I did this teaching practicum. I am prepared to the possibility of not finding job for August. Things are very hard in Puerto Rico right now, there are a lot of people that have more experience and talent than me. I will start the master’s degree in August and if I don’t find a job in the next two years, I will move to USA. In order of priority, my favorite places to move are Texas, Florida and California, states that are in the south. I do not get along with the snow and temperature changes!
I am very grateful of everything I have learned. I did not only learn to be a good teacher: I also learned to be a better person, to teach human beings, not only students. For me that is very important.
I expect to complete the process of my teaching certification as ESL teacher in July, once I have my teaching certification tests results (they should have arrived already, but they haven’t) and after I come back from a travel to Miami, Mexico and Central America. I also expect to keep serving my community and practicing my teaching skills with some kind of voluntary work while I get a job as ESL teacher.
I am very grateful to God for the opportunity and the blessing of receiving a teaching vocation. As a “memory” of what I lived during these last months, I got the PBL project of my students: ItsHardToBeASentence
Let’s keep growing!