Parenting and mentoring a student teacher has a lot in common. It’s a lot more work than you would expect. And sometimes it is REALLY, REALLY hard.
I am mentoring my second student teacher this semester. She is a delightful 22 year old who clearly loves kids and finds such joy in the little things. I did not bring her much joy today though. I am trying so hard to step back and let her learn through experience. Today it made her cry.
She has been teaching science on her own for the past two weeks and doing a really good job. She has well planned lessons, great rapport with the kids, and other than a few expected blips, all has gone well. Today was chaos. It was a perfect storm of some wired 5th graders, one kiddo who was particularly ramped up, the last day of rotations so kids were at varying degrees of work completion, and who knows what was in the air. It is so hard for me not to step in. I know that I can tone them down, get them refocused, and settle the class. But in my heart, I knew that my student teacher needed to feel the chaos. And that felt really awkward. I kept asking myself over and over if I was doing the right thing in stepping back. I don’t like watching someone struggle.
And it finally occurred to me that the real reason I needed to let her struggle was for her to understand and know that she will survive. We all botch a lesson, have a bad day, or lose control of a class and just want to cry. But we all survive. It’s not the end of the world. Just like I teach my students, it is in the struggle that we learn the most. I hope that is the case because it was so hard to watch today. Please tell me that she will be a better prepared teacher in the end.