From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #10

by Amanda Mast - Curie Metro High School

My first week of student teaching, I was talking to someone back home about my first experiences. I believe my exact quote was “I am 100% sure I do not want to be a teacher.” After one week of seeing the stress and behind the scenes teacher work, I made this bold statement. I would have never guessed I would be so wrong. 

This week, I had an epiphany. I am loving the teaching and planning involved. It has been difficult and at times seemed way too stressful to even be considered a job, but the support I have received from back home has kept me going. This week, someone from my hometown sent me a viral video from Ellen of an amazing teacher who has a big heart focused on teaching children. The person who sent it to me simply said that she could see me be this kind of teacher. After watching that video, I realized that was what I wanted to be. All of my heart has been put into these students, and I love talking to them about life just as much as I love teaching them. The video brought me to tears because I was honored that someone would see that in me and because I realized that I am supposed to be a teacher. After the stress and uncertainty of college, realizing that I love what I am doing was the most wonderful feeling. I wish more than anything I could show everyone pictures of my students and tell you my stories about all of them. 

Much of this is thanks to the support I have all around me. From students back at Central, professors, people from my hometown, the teachers I work with now, my roommates, the other student teachers in my program and the school, my parents . . . I could go on forever, no joke. I really want to thank all of you who read my blog and message me right away to say you are thinking about me and that you are proud of me. The fact that I have such a strong support system has gotten me through so many of the hard situations, allowing me to see the beauty of the rest of my experience. Thank you. 

Chicago Symphony Center
I had the most fantastic week in the city as well! Chicago Semester students went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra featuring Yo-Yo Ma. One of my roommates and I arrived very early, so we had time to explore the orchestra hall. There were so many fun staircases and nooks to find with small, beautiful details. It was fun to get dressed up on a Thursday night, but the true greatness of the night was listening to Yo-Yo Ma play. I don’t know if I will ever see someone who loved music as much as he did again. With my opera binoculars – I borrowed them from a Chicago Semester staff member—I could see so much passion and emotion on his face. This was my favorite art event by far.  The atmosphere, the friends, and the music - It was magical.

With my roommate,
Emily, at the
Chicago Symphony

Another fun, unique thing we did this weekend was go to turtle racing at Big Joe's. Honestly, if someone was to suggest that you could go to a turtle race, wouldn’t you? There was a new race every fifteen minutes.  Turtles would start in the center circle, and after being released, they would move, at their own pace, toward the outside of the circle. Some turtles were really quick and would speed out, but some would stay in the center, taking their own time and taking in their cheering friends. Everyone was yelling and cheering for these turtles who didn’t seem to care. The atmosphere was so light and fun; it was the perfect way to kill stress and end the week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #8

by Amanda Mast - Curie High School
Funny quote of the week: “You didn’t choose Curie; Curie chose you”
After attempting to explain that I didn’t choose to come to Curie specifically, but I chose to teach in Chicago, one girl made this sassy remark.  They struggle with the concept of me coming to Chicago to student teach, but I am actually from Iowa.  It confuses them that I don’t make money even though I am working so hard.  On the other hand though, it is really nice to know that they are curious and they want to know everything about me (yes, I am asked a lot of questions every day).

Stairs to Pink Line train
Because we were finishing up our edTPA for our education seminar, I was only in class two days last week.  I’ve had my first sub and experienced the students being confused, but other than that I really have nothing new to report.  I do realize, though, that I hate missing school and getting the students back on track is so difficult.  Taking sick days may not be worth it. 
I didn’t do a whole lot of sight-seeing this week, so I’m going to take some time to write about Pilsen.  Pilsen is a neighborhood with a heavy Hispanic influence. The residents are very proud of their background and culture, and they show it with their murals in Pilsen and a strong sense of community. Pilsen is a unique neighborhood because it has several small restaurants and small shops you can only find in Pilsen. The Jumping Bean has been a favorite coffee shop for my roommates and me. I’m told it has the best Mexican hot chocolate, and I would believe it!   Favorite restaurant: La Cebollita but the main reason might be because it’s only a block away. In Pilsen, everyone has been very welcoming. It has been a lovely living environment full of colors, excitement, and community!
The art at Café Jumping Bean

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Student Teaching - Week #7

by Amanda Mast - Curie Metro High School

Last Monday, I was talking to someone back home about my teaching experience. They asked me if I was becoming “calloused.” 
At first I said “yeah sure. I guess some of the things they say to me don’t affect me as much anymore.” It seemed to make sense. I don’t come home upset about the things students say anymore; they actually make me laugh.  Does that make me calloused?

I made my greatest bounds relationship wise this week.  Students I am failing were telling me that they enjoyed my teaching and promised they would try harder to do well.  Students who seemed unimpressed were smiling and excited.  It felt natural and great to be teaching.  After the week passed, I thought back to the calloused conversation, and realized if anything I’ve become the opposite.  My heart is so soft towards these kids. Now that I know some of their struggles and home-lives, I care for them so much. If saying one disrespectful comment to me gets them through the day, I will handle it.  More than anything, I want to help them.  I want to change their lives even if they don’t realize I’m doing it. 

This week we used technology, read “The Cat in the Hat,” and read another Greek myth. The amount I am getting them to read and enjoy is so much more than when I started.  As a teacher, I am growing in efficiency and confidence, and the students can tell.  This week has been so devoted to teaching, and I love it even more than I thought I would. 

One Came Home
Lifeline Theater
As for my Chicago living experience, I did not do much this week because I was devoted to planning and sleeping- everyone in the house was getting a little sick, and I have never wanted to avoid sickness so badly. On Thursday, we went to Lifeline Theater to the play “One Came Home.” It was a small stage with few props and a lot of imagination (ex. using a ladder as a horse).  Seeing this small play just showed how much the city appreciates arts no matter how small.  My roommates and I also attempted to go to the Lagunitas Brewery, but that place is like a small city in itself!  We ended up never finding the entrance until the tour had already started.  I guess that will be an adventure for another weekend!