Making Sense of an Untraditional Internship

By Cori Agnoni, Secondary Education and English Major / ACH Clear Pathways and Community Writing Center Intern

As it has for many, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way I think, act, and even go about my daily routine. I’ve been told that you can never quite prepare yourself for a day in the Education field, but that only means so much until you’re actually faced with challenges that call for a worldwide shut down. I’ve been forced to find the positives in online school (as of September 14th, I’m roughly 80% online and 20% in person). I miss sitting in the classroom and being able to raise my hand, knowing that my teacher sees it and will call on me at the next appropriate break. I miss walking into class and heading straight toward my self-assigned seat. I miss checking my watch multiple times to see if we’re any closer to class ending… okay, I still occasionally do that. But I’m learning to love the five steps it takes me to get from my bed to my desk on lazy mornings and being able to have a true lunch break that I lacked from the busyness of campus life.

While this pandemic impacted my academic life more than I could have imagined, it also clouded my brain when asked what comes after my undergraduate work. I’ve always dreamed of attending graduate school, but still have trouble understanding where that might be. Does an online program seem more realistic for just the time being, or is this pandemic something that will change life for years to come? Is online learning our new normal? This question constantly runs laps throughout my mind. I think this internship opportunity will solidify my main aspiration at the moment: teaching. Whether it be virtual or in person or even a combination of the two, I want to make myself present in an academic environment. I always imagined my first teaching/internship experience would be traditional, meaning I would walk in to the building on the first day with sweaty palms because I don’t know anyone and a purse full of pens knowing darn well I would only use one, but wanted to have a backup pen for my backup pen. That’s not what this will be. I don’t anticipate physically meeting the kids at ACH Clear Pathways, but I think a relationship via Zoom will teach me just as much, if not more. I must learn to be patient, to be understanding, and, most importantly, to be present. While this format is unlike anything I’ve experienced, the children are fighting the same battles behind their own screens. With a leader that is present, these kids will be exposed to the ups and downs of writing and storytelling. By working with one another through mutual creative outlet, we can help each other with our struggles. I want to be an additional resource for them.

This internship came to me after a class I had registered for was cancelled. To be blunt, Playwriting Workshop 1 didn’t attract me; it was simply a course that fulfilled a requirement for me. Maybe I should see that as a wake up call and a need to expose myself to more from this genre. After its cancellation due to lack of registrants, this opportunity found me. After conversations with my advisor and professors, I felt intimidated. How am I supposed to lead a writing workshop when I don’t even feel confident in my own writing? My answer: I’m learning too. I chose to accept this opportunity with hopes of leaving my comfort zone and expanding my writing background. I’ll try to prepare myself every Sunday evening for the week ahead, but, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never truly be prepared for what a day in teaching will bring. 

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