The habit of feeling

>> Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm now in my final countdown for school. My final day of class, which they count as my official graduation date, is a week from Sunday. For this week's homework, I did three different self-analysis worksheets to determine my level of skill in a wide range of teacher-related areas so that I can develop my career plan.

While working through the questions, (most of which didn't apply because I need to be currently working in a classroom in order to answer them,) I came across this statement: "Becoming a Professional: I identify with and conduct myself as a member of the early childhood education profession." My immediate response was, "I'm sorry, I'm a what?"

Twelve years ago I failed to complete my college education. Two years later I fell into a part-time position in an elementary school, and my first teaching semester was a disaster by many accounts. A few years of administrative assisting and I found myself once again back in the classroom, but this time it was challenging and exciting and working with the children filled me with joy.

But I always knew that I didn't have any training. I had three years of college English, so I knew I could teach beginning reading and writing. I have an instinct for children's needs and fun ways to teach things like math and science - if we toss out the curriculum - but I knew that I was leaving out important things and truly feel that I was one major player in the way the school ended. Had I focused and prioritized, had the uncomfortable conversations, and told the whole truth regardless of the discomfort it would cause others, we may have pulled through. I described myself as a teacher, but I knew I was lying as surely as we know the sun has risen even when it's storming. I was just saying it to make myself feel better, to rationalize the heart and soul and sweat and tears that went into that job. Because if I couldn't say I was a teacher, the other terms that applied weren't at all complimentary.

That job ended when Lanse's did, and we moved here, where I tried to explain to potential employers that I was a teacher, but not really, but sort of. Tried to cover my internalized incompetence with the words "apprentice" and "teamwork". In the end, it was unanimous: I have applicable skills, and lots of potential, but I don't have my degree. I'm not really a teacher. Sorry. Best of luck.

So I went back to school. And now, after 12 years of feeling incompetent, I will be allowed - encouraged - to be a professional teacher, seen from every angle. Yet, I can't see it. Feeling incompetent has become a habit that I can't seem to drop. Me? Capable? From a science-fiction perspective, I imagine it's like standing on another planet vastly different from ours and being hit anew with the shock every three minutes or so, thrilled and excited with the scenery but desperately confident (and terrified) that you'll wake up any second now. It would require the kind of internal change that, right now, I can't even fathom. To live in the habit of feeling confident and capable is as foreign to me as the scenery on that far off planet.

Rumor tells that habits can be broken. Someone, somewhere, stated that it takes only three weeks of focused attention to the habit-replacement before it sticks. So I guess that by the end of January I need to somehow adopt the habit of feeling capable. Somehow I need to change my mind, so that I can change my answers from "Needs Improvement" to "Highly Accomplished". 

Aside from turning my thoughts inward and smacking those negative thoughts down a hundred times a minute for three weeks - or having a real job doing these things - I really don't know how to do it.

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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