Saturday, October 25, 2014

Title In Progress

Post by Daniel Van Winkle: Daniel is in his first year of teaching Social Studies at Bettendorf High School.  You can follow Daniel on Twitter @MrVDubz

I have been thinking over and over again about what to write in this blog, there are so many topics.  Not to mention, so many ways to try and write (funny, serious, sad, inspirational). However, I think I am just going to write in the style of how I try to live my life, which is saying what I feel and going with my gut instinct. Even though I’m only part of the way through my first full year of teaching, I have already encountered many moments that could not be taught during a college course, professional development session, or a handbook. When these moments arise, I have to rely on my own critical thinking, feelings, and gut instinct.  All ways in which I also plan to write this blog post.

            When I think back to one year ago, I would have been sitting at this same desk, counting down the days until I was finished student teaching. I was so ready to graduate, get out into the world, and start making the big bucks (did I not know what career field I was going into?) I was scared- I was graduating in December and as far as I could see I had no job prospects. Although, I was not too worried because I was having a blast student teaching- I had great classes, a phenomenal cooperating teacher, and a fantastic department who made me feel like part of the team from day one. I think the thing that I was most scared of was leaving. The next few weeks went by, I had some difficult goodbyes, and I graduated. Time for the real world.

            From December-February I was jobless, I moved to the Des Moines area to find work and could not find any. I was running low on hope when I received a call for a job opportunity where I student taught. I came back and was hired on for a new position working with students struggling academically, and being a guest teacher. What an eye opening experience. I was able to work with so many parts of the school- the administration, paraeducators, student services, special education, etc. I was given the opportunity to see everything that makes the school work, and it is beyond impressive. I was jumping department to department every day, subbing in a new spot, visiting a new classroom, and seeing different students. The only thing that was the same every day was the work ethic and passion I saw from my coworkers. Every day I witnessed how dedicated and professional everyone who I worked with was.  They would do anything and everything they possibly could so that students were given the opportunity to succeed and learn. None of them are ever satisfied with what they have accomplished, and it is truly amazing to see such a premier academic facility strive to make themselves and their students better every day.

            Now let’s fast forward to today, where I am currently teaching history and psychology at the same school where I was just student teaching the year before. It has been a dream opportunity and scenario I plan to take advantage of.  The title of this blog is Title In Progress not only because I went with my gut on what to write on, but because ‘In Progress’ is how I would label myself, my students, and my team. I am in progress every day, trying to improve my teaching skills, my relationships with my students, and ultimately trying to improve myself as a whole.  My students are in progress because they are always learning more, striving to discover their identity and how they are going to make their mark in their lifetime. My team is also in progress because I know every one of them out there is trying to make our school and community a better place.

            In closing, I will end with a couple points of advice- Do your best to be ‘in progress’ at all times, never settle, and the people around you will not settle either. Make someone part of your family; we all need a sense of belonging, especially our students so bring them into your classroom family.  Finally, make sure you become part of a family. When I hear people come to me in my life and complain about their jobs, and how pointless they seem, I cannot help but feel blessed that I have found a career at a place in a community that has allowed me to become a part of a family.  A family with my team and students, at Bettendorf High School. 

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