The first month of student teaching has been interesting!
My university program expects a lot of us. They ask that we engage with 5 different field placement classes before entering student teaching. Every semester since sophomore year, we’ve been visiting classrooms twice a week to see how schools and teachers function in different areas. We never take on huge responsibilities, and once we enter our (3) practicum courses after we complete the O.P. courses, we are asked to teach a minimum of 3 lessons within a semester. We complete reflective pieces and research-based essays regarding the care and education of children and how we are going to apply this to our own practice. Many of us naively believe that this is what teaching is really going to be like and/or that we have any clue as to what teaching every day is really like.
After a month of student teaching, I realize how foolish I was! We know nothing!
…Okay maybe not “nothing”, but the difference between a twice a week visit to a classroom and the demands that come being there every day are VERY different. I can’t believe our professors are generous enough to allow a minimum of 45 hours because it seems like nothing in comparison to the minimum of 450 hours we are required to log in 4 months! Last semester, I felt so proud of how much we had learned with our education program, and now I feel like I do not know enough! To be clear, we did learn a lot from our university program. The training, techniques, and education theory I have learned is helping me to think more critically about what is going on in the classroom than what I would have been capable of without any of that training. However, it feels like I’ve just been handed a much bigger pair of shoes to fill, and I have!
The first thing that began to overwhelm me was the daily drama that happens with being around so many children/teens at once and for such a long period of time every day. There always seems to be something happening! And besides that, how much the kids need you to be there daily. I think my emotional stamina has improved exponentially since I started 4 weeks ago! For me, this has been the most challenging part of the difference in time commitment.
While my main concern has been the emotional commitment, my colleagues in have been struggling with the unending workload, where they continue to take work home after they have completed the hours on their respective campuses. Besides this, it’s difficult to come up with engaging and interesting lessons every day. When you are the twice a week visitor, you can introduce a fun, well-thought-out, developed lesson plan that you have drafted, reviewed, and revised. When you are writing lessons every day, it’s much harder to give things time to mull over in your mind as you continue to revise and seek feedback from peers, professors, and mentors.
Regardless, this is still the most fun I’ve had in my bachelor’s degree program and the students make it worth it to show up every day! So far, I am realizing (as my mentor teacher has continually told me) that there are days that I feel great about my lessons and there are days that I feel not-so-great about them!
4 weeks down! 11 to go! Updates to come, hopefully?