As you may have gathered from my blog, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in December. I didn’t write an official graduation post; I’m a slacker! Not to mention, I never even wrote about my last semester in college. I student taught in a high school biology classroom From August to November 2011. From November to December, I observed in various classrooms including 6th grade and special education.
There’s several reasons why I didn’t write about it. One, is that I just didn’t have the time or energy, and two, is that I didn’t want to vent my frustrations about student teaching on the internet for obvious reasons. Looking back now, I can separate the pros from the cons and I’d like to write a little reflection about my experience. I may forget all about it if I don’t! So here’s to remembering the good times of student teaching… and forgetting the bad.
Looking back at my student teaching with a “glass half-full” attitude:
- I only had to student teach for 11 weeks, and I was fully in charge of the classroom for about 6 weeks. The rest of the semester I observed other high school teachers, 6th grade teachers, and an awesome special education classroom.
- I had an amazing university supervisor for my observations and she is also the director of the education program. She is the best, hands down.
- I was able to have another student teacher right up the stairs from me, and who also observed with me in the same classrooms in the last few weeks. We weren’t supposed to be in the same high school together, but it worked out that way. We could eat lunch together, chat, and relate to one another’s experiences. I’m so thankful for her!
- My cooperating teacher (CT) had lunch duty instead of a 4th hour class – so I had an extra break during the day to finish eating my lunch, grade papers, cry, talk on the phone, etc. ;)
- My CT had 1st hour plan period. I could come to school 20-30 minutes before school started and still have 1st hour to get ready for the day. Otherwise, I would’ve had to go in super early everyday.
- I only had to stay after school a few times to set up labs. The rest of my grading, planning, etc I did at home.
- I only had two lesson preps: Biology & Science Methods. The Science Methods class didn’t have a curriculum so I had the freedom to do literally whatever I wanted if it somewhat related to science methods.
- The school provided free iced tea for the teachers at lunch. :) It’s the little things.
- One Friday a month, we had student teaching seminars and we didn’t have to go student teach. We were able to meet up with other student teachers and our director from 9 AM – 1 PM. During that time, we had great presentations from others and had time to talk about any issues we had. Then we had the rest of the day free!
- We also were able to take a day off to visit a Charter School in St. Louis, and another day to attend a free workshop. None of these days counted against our attendance.
- I loved my students. They could be difficult some days, but they were great most of the time! I earned their trust and respect and they DID NOT want me to leave. One threatened to duct tape me and another said they were going to give me an apple as a goodbye gift — but they ate it.
- They said the funniest things! My “trouble” class asked me if I “went to college parties” and when I finally got them to believe me that I didn’t, they thought I played Scrabble for fun. It was the running joke the rest of the year.
- My CT trusted me and gave me a lot of freedom.
- I only had to drive 15 minutes to get to school.
- Midway through the semester, my anxiety started rearing its head. Thank goodness for anxiety medicine and a supervisor who understands.
- The other science teachers were oh so helpful and awesome. They were great resources and support.
- I got a great observation and evaluation from the Principal at the high school.
- All four of my observations went very well with my supervisor. My CT also gave me good reports.
- The only thing I had to turn in was 1) reflections on the 3 seminars 2) my education portfolio.
- My portfolio was simple to put together on Foliotek, thanks to our director.
- On our last student teaching seminar, we had a nice luncheon.
- When I observed for two weeks in the lowest functioning special education classroom, it was the BEST experience. We’re talking kids with very low IQs, most of them being intellectually disabled (ID/MR). First off, the teacher was amazing and her paras were too. Second, the kids were amazing. The other student teacher and I absolutely loved them. We had so much fun in there and were so sad that we had to leave them. We had already become a part of the classroom, in just those two short weeks. I miss them and I want to go back and visit. Not only that, but I learned SO much about special education. So many things that I couldn’t learn in college. I can’t even fully explain my experience. It’s just one of those things where you have to be in the midst of it to understand. It was my favorite part of student teaching.
- My second favorite part of student teaching was observing in the 6th grade classrooms for two weeks. I went back and forth between four different teachers, and two of the teachers I just loved. They were such great role models and inspired me to be a good teacher. Also, I loved the age of the kids. It made me realize that I want to teach that age too! :)
Whew, that was long! If you read the whole thing, thanks for listening! :) I mostly wrote it for myself because I want to have that list to look back on in the future.