Friday, January 8, 2010

I Have Baggage

I have baggage. Internship baggage. And with this baggage comes some extreme anxiety and nervousness when approaching anything related to interning.

I start my fourth internship on Tuesday. And while it's completely different from my previous three, it still has the label of "Internship." And it still scares me to death.

My previous internships all took place in elementary school classrooms. My first one was in a first-grade classroom where I went one day a week for 15 weeks. My second one was in a fourth-grade classroom where I went two days a week for 17 weeks. My third one was in another fourth-grade classroom where I went five days a week and became a full-time teacher.

My first internship was smooth sailing and actually quite fun. I worked under a great teacher who really taught me a lot. I realized in this internship that teaching wasn't as easy as it looked but it was fun and I enjoyed it. And I was super excited to start my next internship in a grade level I was more interested in.

My second internship was horrible. The teacher I worked under was kooky and so burnt out from teaching. She told me one day, and I quote, "Are you sure you really want to be a teacher? Because if I had to do it all over again, I would never have become a teacher." Oh, how I enjoyed her pep talks!

Anyway, this was the first time I ever questioned whether I was on the right path. This teaching business was no joke. It was tough and hard and I wasn't the best at it. I could make lesson plans that would rock your socks off. But executing them? I struggled. And it didn't help when my supervising professor and teacher offered no support for me. While I could rock my education classes and had so much fun in them, I felt so lost in my internships. I was a fish out of water in the elementary schools as an intern.

My third internship actually managed to be even worse than the previous one. For this internship, I basically became a teacher. I worked in the classroom all day for five days a week. By my 4th or 5th week, I had to be fully teaching every subject. I also had two different teachers I worked under. In the morning, I started with Lady Teacher where I taught reading and writing. In the afternoon, I moved to another classroom with my students to Guy Teacher where I taught math, science, and social studies.

Honestly, I thought I was doing good. Lady Teacher and Guy Teacher never had anything bad to say about the job I was doing. I knew I wasn't perfect and I was making a lot of rookie mistakes but wasn't that what the internship was about? To prepare us for full-on teaching? I felt even more like a fish out of water as I never really connected with my teachers and felt that my supervising professor (who was the same one who "supervised" me in my second internship) was rooting for me to fail. I had a review about 6 or 7 weeks into teaching where I found out I wasn't doing as well as they hoped, but that "many of their interns start out this way." They didn't seem concerned so I wasn't too concerned.

Only they told my professor that I was doing an awful job. We had a sit-down meeting one afternoon, shortly after they gave me my review, and I bawled throughout the entire thing. I'm embarrassed to admit it now but I felt so dumbfounded by this information, since they had told me that this was normal! During the meeting, my teachers didn't have that much to say and no real advice was given to help me improve. So I had to go at it alone, find out what I was doing wrong, and how I could fix it.

October 29th is the day that will live in infamy for me for a long, long while. It was the day I was told by my professor that there was no way I would pass my internship. ME! Who had flown through school, passing classes and acing classes like it was no big deal, was going to fail an internship. And not just any internship - my final internship. The last requirement I needed to graduate college.

I don't have good memories of my internships. As much as I would like to blame my supervising teachers (although I do admit they are partly to blame), the ultimate responsibility falls to me. For some reason, I wasn't good enough. It seems like such a simple thing - teaching. It doesn't occur to you that you could be bad at it. And I am. It's been really hard to admit that I was bad at teaching and even harder to write this blog post. I'm a fairly capable human being and school has been something I've always excelled at. So to fail an internship felt like the ultimate bomb to my self-esteem and emotions.

But I've moved on. I've discovered I don't want to be a teacher. I don't want to wake up every day with fear and trepidation of what the day will bring. I don't want to arrive at my job with nervous anxiety of how I'm going to teach this subject or that subject.

I'm a journalism student. Writing is where my heart lies. Writing is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Writing is my escape and my serenity. And I have fallen so head over heels in love with my passion.

So next week, I will start my fourth internship. This time, it won't be in an elementary-school. This time, it will be a media internship. And I am going to take all that baggage that's been holding me back and place it in the hands of my Heavenly Father. He can shoulder my burdens and give me a fresh attitude to arrive at this internship as a new woman. And I'm thinking He's pretty good at that.
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