“My time is over: it is no longer my task to set things to right, nor to help folk to do so. And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up now. Grown indeed very high; among the great you are, and I have no longer any fear for any of you.”
I feel as if I’m leaping into thin air. My graduation ceremony at Concordia College was nearly two weeks ago. I’ve said “see ya later” more times than I can count to friends who are scattering around the country and beyond. The reality of student loans looms ever closer to my bank account. And for those of you who are less aware of my post-college plans, I will be hopping on a plane to the United Kingdom for a year of learning and service through the Young Adults in Global Mission program with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America come August.
But more immediately: student teaching is nearly done.
It’s hard to put my emotions and thoughts into words. Twelve weeks in this elementary school in Fargo, North Dakota is the best way I could have possibly ended my college experience. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, of course! You’re the education major. Why wouldn’t student teaching be the mountaintop achievement of your college career?” And that would be an obvious question, all two of you who are probably reading this post. 😉
That is, except for the fact that I have been questioning how much I really want to go into teaching ever since I declared Elementary Education as my major at the end of my freshman year. I love learning, exploring, asking questions, hunting down answers, then asking more questions. I also love young people and their curiosity that reminds me of my own. Combining the two seemed like a natural road. However, after education methods courses and comparing these to other science, religion, and French classes I enjoyed more…I wasn’t so sure any more. Then, take into account my inability to stay organized and stick to a schedule. Writing lesson plans felt more like writing technical lab reports again, rather than some of those “meaning of life” papers I enjoyed a lot more. Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into? Am I really cut out for teaching?
Apparently, I am! At least a lot more than I thought. 🙂
We have explored long division, levers and pulleys, the American Revolution, morality in young adult literature, fractions, pioneer life on the prairie, outdoor survival, befriending the greater community…the list goes on. And as I’ve been watching these fifth graders learn and grow, I’ve been watching myself do the same. We talk about how the natural world works, ask questions together, do community service projects, empathize with fictional characters and each other, and create art. Teaching is the kind of job that requires me to keep learning, and I LOVE that.
I owe so much to my lead teacher and the amazing nineteen fifth graders for all I’ve learned during these weeks. After such a great experience, it’s hard not to cling here, but I do have to leap again. I head back to my mom’s house in a few days and then I’m off to the beautiful bluff country of southeastern Minnesota for another summer at Good Earth Village. It’s reassuring that I’m not the only one leaping – aside from my other college graduate friends, my fifth graders are heading off to middle school! Can you believe that? At the end of August when I’m be boarding a plane to Europe, these nineteen kids will be walking through the doors of a new school…and will probably be asking questions similar to mine:
“Where should I sit?”
“Who do I talk to?”
“Am I going to get teased for being different?”
“Oh shoot, I’m lost/missing something important/wearing the wrong clothes/not understanding the local lingo…NOW WHAT?!”
Apparently, growing up as a college grad isn’t that much different than growing up as an elementary school grad. I haven’t gotten my specific job placement for my service in the UK yet, and I don’t even know how much my improved teaching skills will directly apply to it either. I also have no idea where I’ll be living (or with whom), I don’t know how much I’ll fit in or stand out in a new setting, where I’ll sit at lunch, and gosh, will anyone even want to be my friend?!
My eleven year old self is my not-so-new, most empathetic best friend. Isn’t it reassuring to know we’re not alone?
Let’s raise our milk cartons – to leaping! 🙂