Thursday, October 28, 2010

Student Teaching

Student teaching was a daunting experience. Thankfully, I had completed several hours of observation with the teacher who I student taught with. This was incredibly valuable as I already knew the kids and I wasn't a stranger to them.

To student teach, I also had to enroll in a seminar class. This class met once a week and was meant to be a support to student teachers. The class was wonderful and it was so nice to hear from someone else in my shoes once a week. The course was taught by a veteran teacher, someone who had been "in the trenches" for a long time, and she had lots of insight on ways to help us.

Here's what I didn't know about student teaching before I started. You have observations! I don't know why this was a shock to me. I knew that my cooperating teacher would obviously be watching my lessons. Somehow, it never occurred to me that school might want to check up on my progress in the classroom.

In many ways, student teaching and KTIPing were very similar. I produced a portfolio, though it was nowhere near as long and was all electronic, and had several observations that built up my portfolio. I also completed a unit and identified students who needed assistance.

Student teaching can be a recipe for disaster. Think about your job. Now imagine some college student coming in and following your every move for a couple weeks before taking over while you watch helplessly in the corner. That's student teaching. If the two don't get along, it can be horrible for both. My cooperating teacher and I thankfully got along very well. Some of my classmates were not so lucky. Some teachers signed up to have a student teacher and then refused to turn over the reins of the class. One of my classmates quit student teaching all together at the midway point of student teaching.

One of the other issues with student teaching is that most teachers who take on a student teacher are good, established teachers. What kind of classes do good, established teachers teach? Not the ones a first year teacher would land! As a student teacher, you might have senior, Honors and AP classes. As a first year teacher? You're going to have freshmen. Both have different challenges, but there's no doubt that teaching freshmen and seniors are completely different.

No matter how wonderful and perfect your student teaching is, there's absolutely nothing that can prepare you for being in charge of your own classroom. Regardless of how your cooperating teacher was, you at least had someone to fall back on when something went wrong.

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