Why the ridiculous title?

17 08 2009

As I am about to sleep and get ready for my first day at my former home church’s Vacation Bible School, where I will be “blessed” with leading this song about 10 times this week and having the song needlessly stuck in my head ten minutes into the first day, I thought it was appropriate to explain why I picked a slightly ridiculous title for the blog.

Want the short explanation? It was the only analogy I could think of that referred to both teaching and baseball.

Ever since I started to do any sort of ministry work at Paramus Catholic, I’ve known there was just something I was meant to do. I’ve done both evangelistic and service work in my last eight years at PC and Fordham. I’ve worked with little kids up to grown adults. I’ve done everything that you can almost conceive of in terms of ministry work… at least within the last eight years while earning both high school and college degrees.

However, one thing that people have constantly pushed me towards was teaching. Not necessarily physically pushing me that route, but mostly verbally. I have also been put in situations where I had to teach, whether it was something small like leading a prayer in front of 50 other teenagers while I was at Camp Timberledge to something slightly bigger like co-teaching Peace Games classes the last two years or serving as a counselor for two years at Timberledge or head male counselor for Star Lake. For some strange reason, I believe I have done mostly well in all those roles, even when I was frustrated, clueless, tired, or downright confused.

Fast-forwarding to my NYC Teaching Fellows summer training experience. I felt the last eight years have prepared me for that moment when I am standing in front of my classroom (be it, CTT or self-contained), about to give my introductory speech on my first-day ever, and inside my mind, I continuously recite the same question, “what am I supposed to do with these kids?” I have been told from my classmates at PC to my fellow Cohort 18 members that I am a “natural teacher” and I “will be a great teacher someday”. At this present moment, I still don’t see what they see.

I know I present information well and I do my best to be excited about the material given and/or prepared by me while giving each kid the respect they deserve. I know I love to be in front of kids and I view teaching like acting, only with a smaller and more intimate stage where you are on from 8 am to 3 pm every weekday. I also know that specification and clarification of material are both weak points of my teaching. Organization of material can also be a weak point as well.

I’ve been told about how hard and challenging the first year of teaching can be to a rookie coming in. I have read books about first-year Teaching Fellows’ experiences from Ms. Moffet’s First Year to The Great Expectations School (which I am in the middle of now). I have talked with many former Fellows and taken many notes. I did my best with everything that was handled to me from coursework to summer school teaching. From working on lesson plans to differentiating the material to the students in my summer school placement, I believe I pushed myself as much as I could within the exhausting 7 weeks of training and I did seem some results in forms of great grades and small steps taken by the students in my summer placement class.

However, after my training finished, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of not knowing at all what to do and what to expect when September 9th comes along. I came into the Fellows program thinking that no time in coursework or abbreviated teaching time would give me even more than a semblance of a clue of what to do as a NYC special educator. The 7 weeks did nothing to change that mindset. I will address this issue in a future blog post, though I don’t believe my thoughts after training are solitary.

I am left here on August 17th with many informative lessons, terms, and anagrams still stuck in my head with a meeting planned with my CTT teacher within two weeks and feeling like a complete rookie. Despite those thoughts of being confused and non-prepared, I do believe there is a strong teacher within this 21-year-old mind and heart. I just need to hammer out what kind of teacher I will be with my students among many other questions I can’t even fathom right now throughout the next few years. I consider myself to be a (wait for it… wait for it…) “diamond in the rough” type.

This leads me to the baseball aspect of the title. Unfortunately, I have no amazing, mind-blowing explanation behind the “diamond” except it reminds me of a baseball diamond and I refused to have my blog title be of a catch-phrase that has been around for centuries. I do enjoy going to minor and major league baseball games, especially considering my New York Yankees, as this self-created last-game-at-Yankee-Stadium photo album will attest to. Maybe the title alludes to a “rough teacher” being on a “baseball diamond”? I have no idea, but to me, it sounds and reads good and that’s all that matters at this point.

Tomorrow, or in a few hours, I will be a part of my church’s sixth Vacation Bible School venture. I myself was a part of the last five ventures, serving as the song leader and the first face the kids see every day two years ago and this year. Being able to get kids excited about the One who got me to this point in the first place is an amazing thing to be a part of. Will my second attempt at being a kids’ worship leader for five days help aid my future over-180-days first year experience? Only time will tell, stay tune.

Blessings.

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2 responses

17 08 2009
cdean

I’m sure you already know that the others in your Fellows program feel about as lost as you do. But it goes even further! I have a friend in Houston about to start with Teach For America, and she’s in the same position. However, I have no doubt that both of you will be incredible teachers. Experience is the best teacher – you’re going to be a teaching stud in no time. 🙂

19 08 2009
Kim

I can tell you, from experience, that you won’t be prepared for your first day. But it will come naturally to you, once you get past that first ten minutes. It seems a lot more overwhelming than it is. You will do SO great. My thoughts are with you and I will be thinking as many good thoughts towards you on your first day! Good luck!

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