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Tales from Teaching

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La Lección que Muere

8:10 a.m. I’m ready for 1st period and my first lesson with the video series, “La Catrina.” Students file into class, still half asleep. My hands are sweaty and the anxiety feels like bees buzzing in my brain and throughout my body. 

I turn the lights down and turn the projector on.
Tense music plays and the students and I experience the title scene of “La Catrina” together. I think I’m more nervous than they are. 
The goal is to watch the first episode, stopping after every major event or dialogue. 
“¿Qué paso con la familia? ¿Qué piensas ocurrir después? 
No one speaks. All I can hear is the whir of the projector and a couple students breathing. 
My brain is stuck. 
I had a plan. Why isn’t my plan working? Why aren’t the students responding to my very basic questions? They should be able to understand what’s going on and what is being said. 
Painstakingly, I continue the lesson. We watch a little of the episode, I pause, and students’ only expressions or participation are blank stares or little coughs, all of us begging that bell to ring. 
My mentor teacher, Diane, watches a small spark turn into an unquenchable fire the entire class period and says nothing while students are still in the room. It is early in our partnership, but we established a mutual respect from the moment we met. 
Nauseated, defeated, and overwhelmed, I know I need to at least get through this class and I’ll have prep. The sweat pools under my arms and in my hands while the tears push my eyes, but aren’t yet streaming down my face. 
8:50 a.m. Credits are rolling and the bell will ring in two minutes. Students are lost and I know I have failed. Failure has never been acceptable in my **how I was raised** so I feel utterly disgusted and disappointed in myself. The last two minutes go by without much notice as the replay of the entire lesson consumes my thoughts. 
8:52 a.m. Ding. Students file out of the classroom, some with sympathy in their eyes while others begin to wake from the daydream they had fallen into. 
Diane closes the door and the tears flood my face. 
“Well, how do you think that went,” she asks, knowing I am well aware. 
“It was horrible,” I sputter through the sobs. 

“It was terrible. It’s okay, though,” she assures me. “It takes practice and this is something new. You have prep to come up with a new plan and I’ll help you. When you have a lesson that doesn’t go well, reflect, and make it better the next round.”

I hope you enjoyed a story from my student teaching. Any other teachers have good student teaching stories?

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