They begin in likely places and in unlikely places.
This morning, my timehop app reminded me of a day 4 years ago that I approached with much trepidation.
Once I turned in my application for internship, in the spring of 2011, I started praying. I had heard the horror stories about teaching internships. Some people didn’t make it through. You can’t miss even one day (at my college, you couldn’t) or they made you do a whole other semester, the kids wouldn’t respect you, the supervisors were critical of everything, the internship mentor teachers might belittle you or leave you on your own too early. I was terrified. So, I started praying. I wanted to be placed at a school that would prepare me for the future. I wanted to be teaching a level I was comfortable with. I desperately wanted to have a supervising teacher I could learn from and who would support me.
I sent her an email.
We met a few days later at Panera. I was nervous. Would she be a native speaker? Would I be good enough? Would she be disappointed in me? We talked for about an hour and I could tell we both felt nervous. We weren’t sure if we were a good fit. I kept praying.
I showed up for my first day and those first days and even the first week or two were painful. I was nervous and neither of us had developed a comfort level with the other one.
One day, we had a breakthrough.
I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I remember exactly how I felt. I was moved to tears and I remember thanking God for that moment. Suddenly, in one conversation, we became a team. Friends. Mentor-mentee. Mother-daughter. Co-workers. My husband and I had Thanksgiving at her house that year. She was one of the first to know, just 4 days after I found out, that I was carrying my first child.
Four amazing years later, here I am. A thousand miles away, in a different state. More kids, more dogs. A lot has changed. A lot hasn’t. Posting this picture on my Facebook this morning led to a comment conversation with her, that turned into a Facebook messaging conversation, in which we started sharing ideas for proficiency grading and sharing google documents and planning ideas for collaboration next school year. Two of our preps will match up next year. Four years later, the collaborative, crazy, and silly relationship we began has continued to develop. I will be forever grateful for all she taught me. Every student I have in class can be sure they have also had my supervising teacher in one form or another. So many of the structures, expectations, and methods that permeate my classroom are things I learned from her.
What started with fear and lots of praying on both sides turned into an excuse to dress like twin cone-heads during homecoming week and play a projected version of Spanish Scrabble with our classes. What started with uncertainty blossomed into the foundation for everything I do with my students.
This is only one of several beautiful examples of collaboration I’ve been blessed with in my career, and it is appropriate that I share this today, on the anniversary of our connection to one another!
What collaborative relationships have been formational for your teaching?