The Difference

Comparison with other people and things does no good most of the time. But I feel the need to make this comparison, just so I will remember what it is that makes this experience so different from my previous one.

As a student teacher, I felt immersed in an environment that did not stimulate learning. I did not feel motivated to learn, to improve myself. I was motivated only to ensure my survival from day to day, lesson to lesson. Maybe it was a combination of factors, and not just the environment. The people, the students, and my mindset at that time. But I remember feeling that it was a struggle to survive. A struggle to act so that I would not be marked down for classroom management. A struggle with the pressure to structure activities so as to ensure maximum (visible) engagement. I felt that there was no room for mistakes, and when I did make them, there seemed almost no room for negotiation. No one told me that it was ok to have a learning curve, no one told me that we can learn through mistakes and that we probably learn best through them. As a result I felt that if I could not fit into the system, I was/am not a good teacher.

As a student therapist, how different it is. Yes I’m aware that different factors may be at play – different people, different culture, different me, different industry. But I feel the difference. Especially when I get the message that it’s ok to not be perfect. That the end of the world doesn’t come just because we make a mistake, or because we don’t know how to do things right at our first try. Everyone is still very professional, of course, and everyone is expected to give their best. But it feels so much more affirming to have your best recognised, then told how you can improve from there.  I wonder how my journey might have been different if I had this environment when I did my first practicum.

But it’s all turned out for the best. Now I know what a difference a system’s culture and environment can make, and appreciate what I have now all the more because I did not have it before.

And the takeaway: Should I ever be given the chance again to mentor someone in teaching or maybe even in therapy, may I never let the person feel as I did in my first experience. We are only human, after all.


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