Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Snapshot of My Professional Life

Here's a look at a weekly log I wrote for one of my internship professors. I am currently working for Blount County Schools as a traveling (aka "itinerant") teacher for deaf and hard of hearing students. I have 8 students at 7 different schools spread out all throughout the county. It really is a fantastic job for someone who loves books on tape :)

Overall, this week went very smoothly, I learned a lot, and again enjoyed the flexibility that this internship brings. I have gotten down a schedule and am learning how to get from school to school by heart. I have a lot of fun with my students, and overall really enjoy this style of teaching!
            I think one of the reasons this job is so much less stressful, compared to my last two internships, is because I am the one who keeps myself accountable for my own actions. In a sense, it really is a blessing to not have a mentor because I can make decisions for myself. While I learned so much from both of my mentors in my past two internships, and am extremely grateful for them, it is nice to have a little bit more flexibility to make last-minute decisions and not feel guilty for changing the lesson plan. This internship has definitely given me a taste of freedom, even just two weeks in, and I am glad to have it during my third and final placement.
            I continue to learn each and everyday on the job. One of the main lessons I’ve learned these past two weeks is what you are taught in university about how a classroom functions, and what happens behind the scenes, and how administrators are big, bad wolves is very different from what I have perceived to happen in “the real world”. For example, I didn’t learn in the university setting how to deal with a child who grabs your face when he’s excited. I didn’t learn that deaf high schoolers like to work one-on-one with teachers and other professionals because it gives them a time to easily communicate with someone who understands their first language. I didn’t learn that classroom teachers of CDC students will sometimes have a child have a toilet-related accident while the teacher is holding the child. I didn’t learn that if you have a question about something, there probably is a specialist who can answer your question in her sleep because she knows the answer so well. Each day is a learning experience; I learn not only about my position as an itinerant teacher, but I learn about my students as well. I find myself really engaging and connecting with my students during our 30 or 45 minutes we share together.
            Lastly, I really enjoy the flexibility this internship brings! One day, I finished with my students a little earlier than usual, and didn’t have very much paperwork to do back at Central Office, so I decided to use my time wisely and go gather materials. I went to the Knox County Public Library and began to peruse the shelves for a book about the Civil War, and architecture, and turkeys; all for my students. I asked the children’s librarian if they had any books for kids that had pictures of signers in the books. She showed me a section, and then asked if she could help with anything else. I ended up picking her brain and getting materials and books from her for about thirty minutes! For the remainder of the week I was very excited to teach my students because I had useful and valuable resources that were connected to 1) their interests and 2) what they were learning in the classroom. Had I been a classroom teacher, I really don’t think I would have had time in my day to go to the library and talk with the librarian, and in turn find some great materials for my students. It is this type of “unusual” activities that I really enjoy about this internship/job.
I feel like this hearing specialist position is something that resonates with me. I feel like I am able to use some of my passion for books and English and apply it to almost anything my students are learning. I also feel like I can apply my personal educational background of being homeschooled with this internship because I am able to do many hands-on things with my students. Most of all, I love the flexibility to educate these students—most of whom has severe deficits in reading, writing, and language/communication—in a way that supports my personal philosophy of education. I feel much more comfortable working with students one-on-one because I believe each student is an individual who learns in his/her own way. I was really overwhelmed at MHS trying to educate 18-24 individual students per class period. I was taught in a one-on-one setting from my mom, and of course you teach how you were taught, so it makes sense that I am more comfortable, and happier, to teach my students one-on-one. I am seriously considering a future career as a hearing specialist, as opposed to a classroom teacher, which I had pretty much scratched off my list of possible future jobs. 

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