Editor's Note: Today's post is authored by Mary Harrison, a pre-service teacher from WSU.
Being the youngest of eight children, and being that I grew up during the height of the Super Nintendo’s popularity, I sometimes reflect on my childhood and conclude that I must have spent the majority of it waiting behind a line of my siblings to play Super Mario World or Street Fighter. While I enjoyed watching them play more than I would admit, I also felt an impossible eagerness to get in there and prove my button-smashing chops. The bottom of the totem pole was lonely, and I felt convinced that if I really wowed my (terrible) older siblings with Mario skills, they may somewhat respect me. This precarious amount of pressure inevitably proved counter-productive to my delusional aspirations. Once the warm controller made its way into my hands, I would almost certainly die immediately while my siblings bombarded me with a mixture of jeering laughter and rude impatience. Then I would ask the question that completely irritated them: “Can I hit the reset button?”
The idea of resetting appeals because it promises a new start within which one can demonstrate improvement. While this came in handy when my objective was conquering King Koopa and his minions, my goals and responsibilities have grown to include such lofty ambitions as “shape future generations through the power of education.” Having worked in schools for two years now, and having been a student for many more than that, I have come to view the start of a new school year as a giant reset button; it is from this point that we educators must figure out how to not die immediately, so to speak. In terms of teaching, beating the game means juggling lesson planning, classroom management, grading, parent communication, and an endless sea of bureaucratic red tape, all while remaining reflective and cognizant of our personal goals. Therefore, in order to not die immediately, it is paramount that I immediately set these personal goals.
When observing other teachers, I often feel like I am seven years old all over again, waiting for my turn at Mario. I am excited to take over, but also extremely nervous that I will fail. With each semester, however, I have grown braver. This year, I want to step in frequently and offer to lead classes. In past semesters, teachers have spontaneously asked me if I would like to lead a lesson without prior preparations: sometimes I said yes, but many times I passed. This semester, I am going to accept this opportunity every time that it comes my way. These impromptu lessons will prepare me for inevitable real classroom situations within which I will have to improvise for one reason or another. Give me that controller, teach!
My other major goal is inextricably tied to the first: to not expect perfection from myself. In the days preceding this school year, I laid in bed at night and broke myself into cold sweats worrying about designing and implementing original lesson plans. When I explore this anxiety, I find that at its heart lies an unrealistic desire to manufacture and demonstrate perfection (I can hear the veteran teachers belly laughing now). This sort of thinking flies in the face of the sort of experiences I should be treasuring during my year of student teaching: trial and error, learning from my mistakes, risks and rewards, constructive criticism. Unlike my evil siblings, my mentor teacher will not maliciously whittle away at my self-esteem every time I make a mistake. The students probably won’t notice my mistakes at all. As long as I remain genuine and honest, I feel my students, unlike my brothers and sisters, will be generous with the reset button…and thank goodness for that.
Mary Harrison is a secondary English teacher education candidate at Wichita State University, under the direction of Dr. Katherine Cramer. Mary is currently completing her Core III pre-student teaching experience at a high school in Wichita Public Schools, USD 259.
This was re-blogged, with kind permission, from: http://msmaryharrison.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-reset-button.html