Being a teacher: Christine Han, 2/3 Teacher

As many, or all, of you know, this is my first year here at CPE 1 and my first year as a classroom teacher. As silly as it may seem, it is still strange when I tell people that I am a teacher. Why? Because, before I went to graduate school to get my degree in Elementary Education, teachers symbolized, to me, what it is to be a grown-up. Grown-ups are well-organized, they know lots of things, they are emotionally mature, and they generally know what to do in most situations. As I was beginning my student teaching, I thought, among many other things, “I don’t feel like a grown-up yet but when I’m a teacher, I’ll have to be a grown-up!” During my student teaching, I had many childhood flashbacks when I suddenly remembered what it felt like to be a child in school again. I found myself thinking, feeling, learning like my childhood self alongside the children in my student teaching placements. I would strike up conversations about what Harry Potter character the students liked best or what part of “High School Musical” (a movie that seemingly every child in the U.S. has seen) they liked best. Panic would set in when I realized that instead of feeling and acting like a “grown-up”, I was reverting to my childhood ways! How could I be a teacher if I think, feel, learn like a kid? Fast forward to the end of my program when I found out that I would be teaching at CPE 1. The excitement I felt when I found out can probably be described well by Julie. As I recall, and as my friends like to tell me over and over, I stopped in the middle of pretty heavy foot traffic on Amsterdam Ave. and screamed (or said very loudly) about how happy and excited I was to Julie. And I was! I loved this school, the school’s philosophy, and the people of the CPE 1 community. But I immediately felt the butterflies in my stomach as I asked myself over and over again: am I ready to actually be a full on, grown-up, teacher? Over the summer, as I was finishing up my courses at Teachers College, I tried to do many “teacher-ly” things (whatever that means!). I read through my notes and my books about curriculum, building community, assessing, getting to know students, etc. etc. I kept telling myself that by reading these teacherly books, I’ll actually feel more like a teacher and, more generally, like a grown-up. Now, having been in school for a little over a month, I realize that part of feeling like a teacher comes from actually being a teacher. I don’t know if there’s any amount of preparing oneself for the feel of teaching. And, through talking with the wonderful and amazing people at CPE 1, I finally understand that a big part of being a teacher is always learning and growing. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, just stop one day. And being here at CPE allows me to do that alongside the children and wonderful, supportive, creative, empathic, beautiful “grown-ups”. And it’s only be a month; I can’t begin to imagine what I’ll learn in the years to come!