This is a long post without pictures. I'm just warning you ahead of time. It's also sentimental. That is also a warning. :)
I know the school year isn't over yet, but I wanted to thank some people who deserve thanking. Afterall, if you have to do one thing as an intern it is to reflect! This year has been a ROLLERCOASTER! I was so naive and running on sheer, out-of-my-mind excitement in the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing and over half the ideas I had in the summer didn't work at all (case and point - having little trash cans for each group, which got knocked over or stepped in or kicked all around the floor), BUT I can finally say that I like the way things are running now. Of course there are 200 things I can improve on, but I even like writer's workshop now and THAT really is saying something. My students have come so far this year, and it's been incredible to be a part of.
The internship is a great opportunity because you get thrown right into it and pray you can swim, but I love that. I wanted a chance to learn and "experiement" without having anyone else in the room to see when I totally failed - I think I can see most of that for myself. :) The only downside of not student teaching is that I didn't get to see someone else to get ideas for how to fix my failures, so I had to be a little more proactive in finding out how other people do things.
LUCKILY the internship provides us with LOTS of help and opportunities to learn. I had an incredible experience. Here is why:
1. I am working with really stellar first grade teachers who are always willing to share their ideas. That has made SUCH a difference for me this year.
2. Ashley and Heather are my fellow hard-working interns who understand my pain and frustrations as well as give me some of my best resources, not to mention the numerous talks we've had this year about every aspect of our lives...
3. Even my carpool of "retired interns", Stephanie and Carlene, provide stress relief and answer questions and put up with me getting to the carpool 2 or 3 minutes late almost every day :D.
4. At school I am lucky enough to have a principal who really backs us up and cares about how we are doing.
5. I have a great facilitator, Katie, who checks in with us every morning just to see what she can do for us. On top of that, she knows all of my students personally, which helps when I need advice on how to handle certain situations or when I just need someone to appreciate a cute moment. All of that work doesn't even include the countless observations and useful feedback throughout the year. And of course there were just times when she's dropped everything what she was doing to bring me back from the brink of mental breakdown! One day in particular, I just lost it. I hated everything about how my class was running and felt discouraged. She was so incredibly helpful. She spent the entire day helping do things to make my life easier. On a separate occasion, she drove all the way to West Jordan to get supplies to help my centers run more smoothly. Like I said, I have been very lucky in this internship.
6. My family. My parents always support me in everything I do. My mom lives in Virginia, but has come to visit my class two times already and is coming again next week. She also gives me cute decorating ideas and listens to me talk about school all the time (Lissa does this too). I couldn't have taught this year without moral support from Russ. At the beginning of the year he had to limit me to 10 minutes a day because I just kept talking and rehashing and retelling stories about school, :) but he's adjusted his schedule to my hours, he's come into my class, he knows my students, he has given me countless back scratches at the end of a long day, the list goes on and on.
7. Last, but not least, I have Amber as my CFA. She is really awesome. I knew we would get along when she came to my class and we realized I had known her parents at the Jerusalem Center. But honestly, Amber invited me over to her house before school where we spent literally HOURS planning every second of my first week of school, giving me 90% of the books in my classroom library, and COUNTLESS other ideas and resources. How incredible and above-and-beyond is that? So much of what I do comes from her great ideas. She even came in and taught my class a few times, and I loved watching her. She took the normal routine things I do each day and stretched them into greater learning opportunities for the students. She also came to observe me. Every time she did, I never felt nervous because she knew just what to say to make me feel like a great teacher but want to be better at the same time. She's very supportive. I honestly feel a little jealous that new interns, cohorts, and student teachers get to work with her next year.
I'm sorry if there is anyone that I left out. I'm not a master teacher, not even close, but people took a chance on me and helped me achieve my life-long dream of teaching, even if it turns out that it is only for this year. Walking into the classroom - MY classroom, was an indescribable feeling. I remember one day in the summer I just walked around the school by myself and let it all soak in. It really was a dream come true. When I leave next month I will walk away knowing that I tried my hardest and that my students learned things they never knew before. I try to remember when I lose my patience that every child in that room is celestial. I am the only one who isn't. That is a pretty humbling thought. Right now I'm feeling lucky to be Mrs. Lee the intern - ask me tomorrow at about 11:00 and I may not feel so great about it, but that's just how it goes sometimes, huh? :D