I CAN statements. plural noun. Objectives or goals put in student friendly terms, so that kids can understand the purpose of a lesson. Also descriptors for what language learners at each level should be able to do. Overall, words that should empower and equip for growth.
Tomorrow, it begins. The kids swarm off the busses and head to their shining classrooms, and my first day of “real” student teaching begins. After doing workshops and meetings and classroom prep last week, I’m nervous and excited and ready for my ESL munchkins to arrive. I know the next few weeks might be a whirlwind. But as I’m writing lesson plans and reviewing the WIDA I CAN statements, these are the objectives I hope I’ll take to heart. These are the lessons I hope I’ll master while student teaching.
I CAN take initiative. I have no idea what I’m doing right now. So I need to step up and do something about that. People will not get mad when I ask questions. They will not feel put out when I ask for help. They will not be bothered when I start conversations. They will not think I’m overstepping my bounds when I speak up. I am worth people’s time.
I CAN embrace imperfection. “Get messy! Make mistakes!” will be my mantra. Ms. Frizzle will be my mentor. Creativity and risk-taking will abound in my teaching. Mistakes will happen, and I will not shy away from them in shame. They are a sign that I am learning and growing. I will try, and fail, and try again. My students will, too.
I CAN be firm but kind. Each child deserves love and attention, and each of them is going through life with challenges that I do not see fully. These kiddos need boundaries, and they need to learn to put on their school face and act appropriately. But they also need a teacher who greets them every morning with a smile, a smile that never changes regardless of their behavior on the previous day. They need a teacher who listens to their ideas and who tells them that they are awesome.
I CAN keep my priorities straight. I will not let state-mandated assessments steal passion from what matters most: my kids and their learning, and my teaching practice and its growth. I will invest my energy into what matters, and into what I’ll carry with me from this experience.
I CAN be honest. I can admit when I am fried, when I am frustrated, when I don’t know and don’t understand. Vulnerable conversations with my people about how I’m really doing will keep me going. I have supports that steady me when I’m wobbling, and I will lean into them hard.
I CAN take care of myself. Tea will be continually on hand for sanity (and caffeine). Bedtimes will be enforced, because I am at heart an 8-year-old who will try to read (or lesson plan) under the covers by flashlight. Fresh produce will be in the fridge and meal plans will be created, even when time and money seem too tight to make real food. Workouts might happen. They should happen. They will happen?
I CAN have a life. This world is far bigger than my corner of the ESL room and the notebook that holds my lesson plans. I will remember that. I will maintain and grow things that are valuable to me, things like writing and relationships, things that are not centered in the classroom. My blog will not die. My friends and family and boyfriend will not go unloved or unseen or unheard from.
I CAN do this thing.
Thanks to all who have passed down their wisdom, through Facebook feeds and chats in Target aisles and conversations on living room couches. Your input is priceless, and I’m glad to know that I’m not alone as I step into this new role. To my fellow student teachers, here we go…