Friday, December 12, 2008

Wartburg West Pre-Reflection

Before I head out to Wartburg West, I have to complete a reflection on the experience. I thought I would post my thoughts up here so that everyone reading could have a better idea of what I my situation is out in Denver and it will provide a little more background on the whole Wartburg West experience.

Ever since I started looking into Wartburg College, back in high school, I was really interested in an opportunity to study in Denver, Colorado for a semester. I knew that if I worked hard and got all the right classes taken before my senior year I would be able to actually, maybe student teach out in Denver. As I registered for classes with my advisor I told her that I wanted to go out to Denver to student teach. She has been more than supportive over the last few years as we have scheduled my classes out and gotten me prepared for the experience. I really want to go out to Denver for the urban experience of living in a city. I kind of live in a city at home in Minnesota, but I have never actually lived downtown. This will be an experience that allows me to do just that. In addition, I will be able to go up into the mountains and go skiing, hiking, and horseback riding. The opportunity to go to a place outside of the walls of Wartburg will force me to start the transition into life after college so that will also be a plus.

For those of you that do not know, the Wartburg West apartment complex is located in downtown Denver. It houses 20 Wartburg students ranging from social work majors that are completing their practicum, student teachers completing their experience, and business majors completing their internship experiences. It does not cost students any more money to go out to Wartburg West, although there is not a meal plan. Meaning that I will be cooking the entire time I am out there. That is a small price to pay for the amazing experience I look forward to, and know, that I will have.

This experience is new for me because I will be living in a new place, that is beyond my control, for only the second time in my life. I have no idea what type of place I am getting into, what Denver is actually like, how to get around, where to go for food, friends, and a good place to sit down and grade papers. It will also be different because I will be outside of my comfort zone by traveling to a new city on my own for an entire semester. Yes, I will have friends out there, but it's not like I will see them during the day like I do currently. I will be truly be on my own.

I had an experience similar to this last summer when I lived on the Crow Native American Reservation for three months. I went into that situation feeling very much the same thing I feel right now - apprehensive, afraid, excited, willing to learn, and overall maintaining an open mind. That experience had a huge impact on my life and I can point to many different aspects of my life that have changed as a result of that experience. My faith, confidence, willingness, and whole self seem to have altered because of that experience. It was extremely powerful. I honestly do not believe that true reflection can happen at the moment or right after an experience. We need to step back a few weeks or even months after an experience and really consider what changed, what we learned, how it really has had a lasting impact on us.

From my time in Montana I will bring my open mind, willingness to make a difference, and a knowledge that at some point we are going to fall. We need to be willing to make mistakes - especially when living in a big city. We will take a wrong turn, make a terrible dinner, not give the best lesson. But in the end, it will all be OK. Have faith in that fact and get ready to learn - that is what I will bring to the table.

I am anticipating for this semester to be very, very busy. In addition to living here in Denver and all the excitement that goes with that, I still have to maintain my apartment, go to school, take an extra class online, in addition to the class for Wartburg West, and finish my undergraduate research thesis. It will be very busy. Not to mention all the student teaching obligations, lesson plans, portfolio preparation, grading, and other experiences like dances, athletic events, school plays, etc. I can't wait to immerse myself in the AHS culture, but at the same time I have my own things that I need to get done while I am out there.

My fears include not getting a lot of sleep, which is not new for a college student - especially for one as involved as I have been for the past few years. Also, I want to provide quality instruction at all points. That does not mean that all the lessons need to be home run, A+ quality lessons, I just want them to be engaging and produce deep reflection and are relevant to students' lives. That may not be possible at times, and I have to come to grips with that fact. In addition, I have been placed with two amazing cooperating teachers. I do not want to let them down in any way. So I will have to deal with being my own teacher, teaching in my own style, and making the most difference I can in my fifty-nine minutes. That's the goal. I guess I also have a fear of not finding a job teaching during the second semester. With the hope and knowledge that He has my best interests at heart I put my trust in Him that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. My fear is dispelled.

The values and attitudes that I bring to urban life are loud noises, traffic, homless people, and lots of trash. Whether that actually will be true in Denver is yet to be seen. I just want to explore the city, enjoy being there for a semester, and have a good time being in front of the classroom. I really want to learn about how an urban city works together? There appear to be so many different parts of the city and different departments. Why can't everyone work together for one common goal? Make the city and the world a better place. Is that possible? Why not, especially in a large city? Some experiences I want to have while in Denver include going to an Avalanche game against the Minnesota Wild (hockey for those of you who do not know), go to a few urban, hole in the wall resturants, get into the mountains and go down a few of those black diamonds with confidence by the end of April, and have fun hanging out and being a cowboy living on the ranch during the weekends. That's what I want to do.

Hopefully, by the end of the semester I will have a teaching position somewhere in the United States ready for me to go. That means contract signed and super excited about the next stage in my life.

The community I am looking for with my roommate is a very supportive one where we can chat, talk, and do stuff together. From other Wartburg West students I want to be able to joke around and have a good time, but realize that as a student teacher with other obligations outside of school I will be very, very busy. So that means that my time spent in class and seminar needs to be respected. I cannot stand it when people teach and really have nothing to teach or do not really a point behind that class meeting or assignments to be done. I will communicate these expectations by being very motivated and really sharing my feelings with those around me. I feel like I am a very open person and will share my feelings if someone would like them shared. That being said, I will let other people know what is going on in my life. This blog is one way that I will do that.