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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Make a difference—one life at a time!

Samantha Strub
MSM Class of 2013

(3/2012) You’re talking about your kids? Oh wait, I must talk with you! How are they? Aren’t they just darlings?

This is a common theme of excitement when education majors see each other. The conversations about their students can go on for hours; talking about everything from their honor, to their special education students, to the crazy comments that they say, what they said about your outfit and the conversations that you have over the course of the day. Their "students" all quickly become their "kids." It’s amazing how attached you become in just a few weeks’ time.

You become so excited that you can hardly wait to express your passion to anyone who is willing to listen. Those of my friends who are not education majors are probably thoroughly annoyed by my constantly talking about my students and everything that goes on in just one day in a middle-school classroom. I don’t even realize that I’m essentially talking only about my students; it has become a habit, it seems. I’m sure we become very annoying with our endless chatter about our kids and all of their good and bad habits.

Every day of teaching is like a roller coaster ride. There are days when you are soaring high and days where everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Quickly, you must adapt to this constant change by finding a way to deal with all of the unexpected events. You must learn not to take things so personally and remember, on the bad days, why you are studying to become a teacher. This is where Education Breathers come in. My roommates and I have gotten into the habit of having a weekly breather—as we have called it. These weekly breathers have become a Godsend. We have created so many wonderful roommate memories by having breathers in order to keep our sanity as well has have a nice opportunity to brag and brag about our students. We take a breather to sit and relax among friends and share good food and teaching stories. After we had all taught our first lesson we had our weekly breather. We all had been incredibly nervous standing in front of our students for the first time with our mentor evaluating us. We all had played the "What if" game—thinking of every possible event that could go wrong. Not even trying to be positive but instead thinking (and planning) for the worst. This fear helped us realize that we needed to breathe and later we laughed at how well most of our lessons went. The fear helped us plan for the worst and as a result we came away from that first lesson feeling high on life.

Definitely part of the reason that my education roommates and I have created these breathers this semester has been because we want to share our teaching stories with fellow future teachers. We can chit-chat for hours, swapping serious, silly and crazy stories about our kids that no one ever gets bored with. We hang onto every single word that they say whether it is positive or negative. Since we are all taking similar classes, work in the classroom and have experienced similar situations, we are able to rejoice about the successful lessons and overall good days, where nothing unexpected or serious happens. We are able to give advice about situations when needed because there are always occasions in teaching that come up that you weren’t expecting. As roommates, we are able to sympathize when those unexpected situations occur and encourage each other to keep pulling along.

For example, when my supervisor came to observe my second lesson I was a basket case. I could tell my nerves were showing when I was teaching. I thought that it was over for me, but my roommates were able to assure me that it really wasn’t over and that my supervisor would understand that I was nervous and not hold nerves against me. We provide life-support to our fellow teachers, friends, and roommates. Everyone needs support from those who care about them and want them to succeed in life. Teachers just have a unique way of giving each other that extra booster shot that will keep them pushing forward.

All education majors have times when they get super excited to talk all about their students. These are classic moments that all education majors will have many times in their four years at the Mount. Your students become such a huge part of your life as you build relationships with each one of them. They all become so special to you that you can’t help but talk about them. For instance, just the other day I told everyone I met how excited I was when my 7th grade students questioned where I was, seeing as how I was supposed to be teaching the lesson When they saw me at the door they became so excited and kept saying, "There is Miss Strub! I found her! She is right there!" I felt so blessed that all of my students were so excited and eager to have me teach the lesson. I have realized that every single one of a teachers’ students is unique and ready to take on the world in their very own way. You are there as their teacher to help them reach their goals in their life—one step at a time.

As roommates we have the special connection of being great friends in addition to being roommates, so we know when we need encouragement, a de-stressor or just a laugh. These weekly breathers are now a tradition with my roommates and me that we will carry with us to life after college, even to our future classrooms. These weekly breathers have developed into wonderful memories that we all look back upon with a smile. We will remember them as pick-me-ups that kept us moving forward, step by step to the next task.

Sharing teaching stories helps put life in perspective because then we are able to see though the stress of the endless drama in order to remind ourselves of why we are here. Once a week at least we hear the stories that keep us going and help us realize that amidst all of the lesson plans, time management, co-teaching, observations, reflections, papers, and tests there is hope and joy at the end of the tunnel, something to look forward to. There is a purpose for putting all of this time and dedication into our degrees. We get up every morning because we want to make a difference. We want to take our passion and knowledge and share it with future generations.

This is how education majors take a step back and remind ourselves of why we are getting this degree in the first place. We are here because we have a passion for children and sharing our love of learning with them. We are here to make a difference—one life at a time.

Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount