To be angry is to react and to be brave is to stand and fight; therefore, your reaction has always been to run. ~Gregory, Romeo and Juliet (modern translation).
I’m teaching Romeo and Juliet right now- a play I personally can’t stand (sorry, Mrs. Scott!). I’ve never taught it before, or taught this age group (freshmen).
I am struggling. Royally.
I’ve taught three times so far in my teaching placement. Three breakdowns in class.
The last time, I floundered so miserably, I wasn’t sure if I could do this job. Or if I even wanted to anymore.
I’m still there, if I’m being honest with you. Not only do I know if I truly want to do this anymore… I’m really not sure if I can.
My confidence when it comes to teaching has never been this low. I’ve always felt like this is what I was good at. Until this placement. Now I’m second guessing and over thinking and am utterly confused about what to teach, how to teach it, and if I’m doing anything right at all. I sure as hell don’t feel like I am.
I love teaching. I am passionate about education and helping students learn. Every placement up until this one I felt more prepared to be a teacher- and a good one, at that.
But after this week, I can’t help but wonder if I can do this. If I should do this. If I can’t handle student teaching, can I handle my own classroom?
I’ve taught 7th grade and 12th grade in previous placements. In 7th, I did a mini-unit on plot and characterization as a review (with a centers lesson plan I adored). We read Rikki Tikki Tavi and I laughed at my students’ antics. Then, I taught The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book I’d never read (and barely heard of). I read along with them and wrote my lessons as we went, since the classes were different and the book was a dense non-fiction text that was hard for even me to read. I taught about citing evidence in the text and did an advertising project with my students that was both really fun and left them thinking about the persuasive techniques they see everyday.
In 12th, I taught Macbeth, which I love–but if I’m being honest, I still struggle reading Shakespeare (I just don’t like it, honestly). My teacher helped me fill in gaps where I needed them, helped me with discussion and covering my bases. She let me try new things and activities and really liked them enough that she used them in other classes. I left with a lot of confidence, thinking if a veteran teacher could learn from me, I could conquer whatever class I was in next. I was wrong.
Both times I’ve done really fantastic lessons and left feeling like I taught my students well.
Both placements I felt like I knew what I was doing. Even when I messed up, or forgot something, or things didn’t go exactly as planned… I felt like I could get back up again. I still loved it, and was ready to try again the next time.
This time I’m not as sure.
I don’t feel confident in teaching anyone anything right now.
I’m a runner-awayer (yes that’s made up, roll with it). When shit hits the fan, I run. When conflict happens, I cower in the corner and escape as fast as I can. I am a perfectionist–so when my plans go up in flames, my first instinct is to just give up on them.
So when I screwed up royally Friday, I emailed my supervisor telling her I wanted to give up.
I started trying to see if I could graduate without student teaching (still looking into that, if I’m being honest in this moment).
I decided I couldn’t do it. And I was right– when I stopped believing I could do it was when I fell flat on my face.
Funny how that works, right?
I’ve never been a confident person.
One friend recently told me I don’t give myself enough credit. (Thanks Lauren).
My favorite teacher from high school wrote in my yearbook that I underestimated myself and my abilities. If only you could see yourself through the eyes of those that love you, she wrote. (God bless Sam Davenport).
I know this about myself. I constantly overthink, the what ifs eat my brain every second of every day, and I don’t feel capable of success. Ever.
I know this is something I have always struggled with. But I don’t know how to fix it.
I want to feel like I can do this. I’ve wanted it my whole life. I was the kid that wrote worksheets for her cousin as a kid and instructed her how to do them (sorry Cassidy!). School was a safe haven growing up- I loved it. I always have.
I have been a writer most of my life too–and lo and behold, the first time I felt confident about it was from a teacher (again, thank you Davenport). All it took was one comment telling me I was a good writer to make me believe it (and somehow still believe it, all these years later– one memory I’ll have forever). Teachers have that kind of power- to either lift up students’ confidence and spirits, or to break them down, causing a wall to be put up. Both have happened to me,
If I could give a student the confidence about something that she instilled in me about writing, this would all be worth it.
But how can I give anyone confidence in anything if I don’t have confidence myself?
Teaching was the one. thing. I felt confident in about myself. My looks? Ehh. Grades? Not always. Relationships? hahaha.
But teaching. Teaching has always been MY THING. From the first time I was in a classroom, I felt like I could do this thing.
I’m not brave enough to stand and fight right now. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get me back to that place-where I felt at ease teaching, confident that my kids were learning and understanding what I was teaching. I’m afraid the minute I get back in front of my students tomorrow, my instinct is going to be to run.
I have had plenty of conversations this weekend with people that believe in me–friends, family, mentors. They all think I can own this, I can do it, that I will make it.
But I just can’t believe it for myself.
The past few weeks, I’ve said this prayer to myself: Jesus, I know you believe in me. Help me to believe in me too.
I want to believe in me. I just don’t know how right now.
And I’m scared it’s going to make me quit and run.
Tomorrow, I’m supposed to keep teaching R&J… but I’m so lost on where to even start teaching that I’m struggling with the how. I don’t believe I can do this.
Someone, help me find my confidence again. My teacher confidence is a confidence I’ve always had… until now.