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Realizing What You Know

The first time I had realized what I learned in college was when I took the MTLE content area test. The MTLE is the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam. Anyone who wanted to be a teacher in the state at that time needed to take the tests. Now it’s a little different, but you still need those exams to gain full licensure. Anyway, during that exam, I was able to confidently answer most of the questions. The experience made me feel really good about my education level. However, teaching is one of those jobs where you can study the theories, psychology, and laws for decades and still not be good at your job. I myself started out in that phase where I was arrogant enough to think that because I had a great GPA in college, I would do great in the classroom. 

Subtly, I have noticed this feeling other times in teaching. For instance, when I am writing a lesson from a curriculum and not looking at the teacher’s guide but later notice that I planned for similar activities and focal points. Or when I am giving another teacher information on how to work with a student and another EL teacher agrees or gives similar advice. There are a lot of times when you receive little pats on the back in that way. However, I hadn’t quite been paying attention to my actual teaching in that way; until today. 

In the middle of my lesson while using a poem to teach the structures of needs and wants, I started connecting theory with experience and was able to add more depth to the lesson grammatically and make it fun. I realized that I was able to do this because of what I had learned and what I knew from experience. When your entire career is filled with moments of imposter syndrome, times like these reinforce that you are where you have labored hard to be. On top of all that, another teacher was in the room at the end and commented that the class looked fun and exciting as the students worked up until the bell. 

In all fairness, it is the first day back from break. Most students were extremely tired and needed quite a bit of external motivation to keep them engaged. I cannot say that the positive behaviors were completely in my control. Yet, part of being a good teacher is being an opportunist. 

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