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Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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Bursting Bubbles
Friday, October 16, 2009

Psychologically, something has happened in terms of the way I feel about being on prac. And up until today, I was having trouble making sense of it. But I think it makes sense now thanks to some clarifying discussion with a friend.

As an ex-Con-Ed student, prac was always something I did from May to June. I mean, there were many ways you could have gone about getting your prac done but it made the most sense for me to do it after the university school year. And because of this, prac has always felt like... an extra-curricular of sorts. Right? Because I'd go to Queen's, be a student for 8 monthes, and then after the year was done, I'd turn my attention to prac - in a lot of ways, it was just the first part of my summer job (minus the pay). Now, I'm seeing it a little differently.

Now, prac is actually part of my school year. Instead of being something I did "after school," prac IS school (in more ways than one). And leaving aside how much this has made me miss being at Queen's, the experience of being in schools has taken on a radically different meaning. As my friend Pearl succinctly said, in years past, prac was something I did as a step towards completing my program whereas now, while it's still something I'm doing as a step towards completing a program, it's far more of a step towards the real world.

I never realized how true this was until now - that in years past, I was a student, first and foremost, and prac was something I did in preparation for the future. And for some reason, that made it seem like something I was doing because I was choosing to be responsible (i.e. preparing for my future), not because it was something I NEEDED to do in order to cater to the present (which at the time, was simply being a student). Now that teaching is something I NEED to do, because it takes on immediate significance, it's morphed; in my mind at least, it has.

I was never very good at taking a huge amount of pride in something I HAD to do. Some people have disagreed with me on this before. They tell me that even if you HAVE to do something, you can still take pride in doing it well. While I understand why people feel this way, I don't know that I necessarily do. I always felt that if you have to do something, there is an implicit understanding that it meant you had to do it well. I've only ever felt a truly positive reaction from doing something by choice.

What this has all amounted to is me realizing that I might lose my love for teaching once it becomes a necessary component of my life. Now, that doesn't mean I won't be able to be a good teacher. After all, as I said above, I feel that even a necessary component of my life is worth doing well. But that means that I'm being a good teacher on a principle (that if you're going to be a teacher, you have an obligation to be a good one) not on an innate love for the profession itself. That in itself opens up a whole new problem. In some ways, I had always counted on teaching as being a driving force behind why I do what I do. In other words, it gave meaning to my life. What if I find out that teaching can't do that for me? And I end up in some Zach Braff-like state of Garden-State-esq existence? Like he says, at the end of the film,

So what do we do? What do we do?

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Jonathan posted at 6:36 PM - Comments (1)

1 Comments:

I have something to say, and yet I don't know if I can articulate it right now. I'm going to try--this seems time-sensitive--but perhaps I'll need to come back later.

1) You choose your attitude. If you choose to say that you are only doing a good job because this is an obligation, then you will not feel any pride in it. If you choose to say that you are doing a good job because this is something you have decided is worth trying hard at, then you will feel pride in it. So far, you have chosen the first. Try the second. I for one know that the second is true.

2) I know that some people find it hard to up and change their attitude without some new fact or perspective to trigger it, so I'll give you a second point. Yes, your principles insist that you do a good job now. But you have chosen to follow those principles. Not everyone does. The very fact that you will do a good job even when you will be able to get away with doing a slack job means that you are still choosing to do what is right. You might feel impelled, but that is because you have chosen to do what is right more often than not (no one always chooses what's right), such that it has become a powerful influence on your decisions. This is still a choice, Jon. It always is.

3) Further, you are also becoming a teacher because you intend to do a good job and you think you stand a shot at it. You did not have to be a teacher. You could have done something else. Instead, you chose a profession you thought was valuable and in which you thought you would be valuable. Take your drive from that.

4) But don't rely on being proud of yourself. In the end, no one measures up to their own expectations, if those expectations are any good at all. You need to put your drive elsewhere, like doing a better job or getting to know your students.

5) Almost no one gets their life satisfaction out of their job. Why should you? Some satisfaction, yes. But not all of it. You need to look elsewhere for that. And you won't get it all now.

6) Almost everyone second-guesses their profession, etc. This doesn't help you much, except that it means that you'll likely get through this feeling somewhat silly that you were worried at all. You could very well be misattributing your unhappiness. There are other reasons for you to be somewhat bummed, right? Perhaps that's contributing.

I don't think I articulated that properly at all. Gah.

Oh, and there should not be a comma after "says" in the last sentence.

By Blogger Christian H, at October 18, 2009 at 1:38 AM  

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