So, I’ve survived my first week of student teaching…it may have (fortunately) only been four days (no school Monday because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day), but I made it through relatively unscathed.
However, my use of the term “relatively” is extremely, well, relative in this case.
I’m unscathed in the way that I am in possession and good usage of all of my limbs and I’m in a pretty decent mental state. Besides that, this first week was full of adventures (as I like to lovingly refer to them).
Tuesday, my first day, my cooperating teacher’s eyes lit up when the piano tuner showed up in the middle of her intermediate concert choir’s rehearsal, which is one of the groups I will be primarily working with. Her eyes lit up because she had to go show the piano tuner where all the pianos were throughout the choir wing that needed tuning. She turned to me and said, “Well, here’s your chance, Mr. Hughes”. I think my cooperating teacher’s a great lady, but I swear there was some sort of good-natured sadistic pleasure in this situation where I had to take over the rest of the group’s rehearsal on my own. Unfortunately for me, my piano skills are, at best, at the level of a monkey typing Shakespeare; add that to the surprise of taking over in the middle of the rehearsal and let’s just say the results were less than spectacular. Nevertheless, I made it through without 1) yelling profusely or 2) breaking down into the fetal position, both of which speak towards a hopeful future as an educator, I’m sure.
Day 2 consisted of warming up the aforementioned concert choir and the freshman men’s choir; this in and of itself went relatively well. My adventure that day was temporarily getting lost in the school because, like a dope, I hadn’t really been anywhere in the school besides the performing arts wing, and entering from the opposite side of the school from the staff parking lot (ooh la la) completely threw off my sense of direction within the school. So, like a stubborn male and embarrassed student teacher, I wandered the halls until I figured out where I was, instead of asking for directions from a faculty member (I feel this is more about being embarrassed to admit I didn’t know where I was than being a stubborn man).
Day 3’s adventure was the most extra-curricular, in that it had nothing to do with being in the classroom. I pulled into the parking lot after driving through the treacherous weather and looked at the clock- 7:40. Nuts; class starts at 7:50. I turn the car off, open my door, push the manual lock down, get out and shut the door. In the microseconds that passed as I let the door go behind me and hearing it shut completely, I realized that my keys were neither in my hands nor in my pockets because they were still in the car. I walked inside and immediately asked my cooperating teacher if she knew a good locksmith, to which she quizzically responded “Why?”, to which I responded with my wonderful story about quickly getting out of the car and being a dope. Luckily, the school has a police officer on premises who has a tool to get into cars if folks have locked their keys inside of them. The officer was quite personable and managed to get into my car and retrieve my keys. This great news was immediately deflated by the officer telling me it was the fastest he had ever gotten into a car, telling me it took him “literally, two seconds”. Why bother locking my car at all?
Anyway, today was a bit shorter because of a two-hour delay due to yesterday’s horrible weather, which was nice and, more importantly, uneventful.
And, of course, all of this nutty stuff would happen in just the first week, which means there’s more to come. Next week will definitely be more involved personally, as my cooperating teacher wants me to fully take ownership of the two groups that I’ve been warming up with this week. I’m excited and daunted by the whole thing. Excited because there’s so much more you can do with a piece of music that you can take off the page than you can with vocal warm-ups and stretches. I’m terribly daunted because I’m still getting my listening ears into proper working order in the classroom. I know that statement may not make much sense, but what I mean is that I’m still working on being a critical listener in terms of choral sound. I was listening to the concert choir (a mixed group of men and women) just today and I know there things that were wrong that I could hear, but, for the life of me, my brain couldn’t pick everything apart to start breaking it down to work on it. In my mind, it was like a giant wall of sound hitting me in the face, and all I can see is the wall and not the bricks. Hopefully, this will be something that gets easier in the coming weeks; as daunting as it seems, it’s also quite an excellent challenge.
So, in terms of guidance, I’ve entitled this post “endurance” because of my desperate need for it in this student teaching semester; it’s also in reference to a Bible verse that I’ve found helpful to reflect on in times of difficulty (sorry to get all theological on you here; please feel free to stop reading here if you’d like):
“Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
– Romans 5: 3-5
Here’s to endurance, character and hope.