The Student's Voice

Student Teaching in Singapore

12/19/2013

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I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. It will, of course, sound silly and cliché, but something inside me has always urged me toward education. I didn’t start college as a teaching major. In fact, I was sure that I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Disillusioned by the constant media and public crucifixion of educators, I balked at pursuing that path. Who wants to be a teacher when people expect you to do almost EVERYTHING and then criticize you when you fail?

Apparently I do. I’m here anyway.  I’ve already completed multiple reflections during my student teaching, and so it would seem that this one would be an easy task. Not so, I’m afraid. This is the last one. The last one. My last chance to share my thoughts about my student teaching in a formal reflection setting. It would be easier if I had little to say, but since I could fill a book with my observations, reflections and thoughts, I’m struggling to even start.

Okay. I can do this.
Student teaching at Singapore American School was incredible.
There. blog complete!

Sorry, I couldn't help it. That sentence is the one I often give people when they ask about the experience. How else do you describe something that has changed your life so completely? 

I've completed other field experiences, of course. My gripe with them has always been that the students don’t really see you as their teacher since you are only there for a short time. So, in many ways, I count this as my first true teaching experience. This was my chance to develop a teaching mindset. To move beyond an attitude of “Complete the field experience and leave.” to “This is real. I’m the teacher.” It was powerful. It was invigorating. It was terrifying. But it was real, and I liked it. I was, for the first time since I started at UNI, a real teacher. And I realized I’m ready.

This is not to say that I will not make mistakes, that I am perfect and without flaws. Far from it. I still have much to learn. But I’ve gained many significant teaching skills and some unique ones as well, courtesy of my choice to go overseas to student teach. One unique skill I’ve gained is adaptability. Going abroad, you realize things that you’ve always taken for granted may be completely foreign for your students. For example, I was teaching a lesson using American currency and an upper elementary student didn’t know how much a nickel was worth. Another student asked me if U.S. “school districts” were created because everyone liked the Hunger Games. Still another student looked at me like I’d grown an extra head when I talked about snow plows. Going abroad forced me to question my assumptions and be adaptable. I had to change my lessons if my students were confused, and I had to learn to prepare for situations were lessons might go sideways.

Other things I learned were personal. Although I’d been abroad before, I was again touched by the feeling of community among expats. When holidays like Thanksgiving would come around, people would come together and create their own little piece of America abroad.

During this experience, I also came to realize that people aren't really that different. Living in Singapore, while different, was still living with people. This may sound provincial or quaint, but watching people interact in stores and on subways, I realized that yes, we may have differences in our cultures, but people abroad still have families that love them and want and need things, too.

Looking forward, I see my broadened global perspective as making a positive impact on my teaching. I see my classroom as a place where students can find acceptance and know that their teacher cares about them despite differences we may have. A place where they will learn because I will adapt to their needs, their lives.

It’s hard to capture all of my feelings in a blog. I've grown so much and have reaffirmed that this, being a teacher, is what I want and what I’m meant to do. I could certainly say a lot more, and this is, perhaps, a rather anticlimactic way to end my undergraduate career. But perhaps this transition doesn't need fireworks or grand gestures. What comes next is more exciting: I CAN NOW BE A TEACHER!!!!!!