Student Teaching Versus the Dream Classroom

Berens_BlogBy Dana Berens — I think most young adults entering the teaching profession, initially, enter with the idea of being a Hillary Swank type of teacher from the movie Freedom Writers.

We all envision entering the classroom being a dream. Then we realize the reality of having to earn respect. And then we realize the ultimate reality of how hard earning that respect really is.  And once this is accomplished and trust is formed, the true task of teaching begins, and the difficulty of this reality once again sinks in.

As a pre-service teacher, about to embark on my final semester of college as a student teacher, I find it hard not to be jaded by this “Hillary Swank” ideal that is so promoted in the media. Although I have had experiences in classrooms in both Massachusetts and Milwaukee, and know the reality of how hard it is to get a student to read at grade level, or understand negative numbers, I cannot help but be swept away by this pop culture ideal. I know how hard differentiation is, and I know how much time goes into lesson prep, and how tedious full length lesson plans with teacher talk can be – and yet, I am still enamored by the idea of motivating a room of students to be the best they can be.

Did I mention I begin on Monday?

Could this perhaps be why I am still so jaded? On Monday I begin in a 1st grade classroom in the MPS system. And while the students have not yet generated as much attitude as a late middle school or high school aged students, my cooperating teacher has warned me that challenge is definitely in store for my future.  While I am eager for these challenges, as they will make me a stronger individual and teacher, I do not yet think I understand the reality they will present as I am still jaded by my naivety.

Throughout the semester my blog posts will center around my experiences as a pre-service student teacher. I am eager to get into the classroom and gain as much experience as possible, but am sure it will be an emotional roller coaster of a semester. I am thankful Marquette has seminar’s each week where I can converse with peers and get the professional and emotional support I need to engage in this experience.


Dana Berens is a new blogger for Spring, 2013. She is currently a senior in Marquette University’s Elementary Education program. This spring, she will be spending her final semester student teaching in a Milwaukee Public School.  She is very excited to use the blog to document her experiences. In addition to working with children, Dana enjoys photography, traveling, cooking, and a good day at the beach.

1 Response to “Student Teaching Versus the Dream Classroom”

  1. 1 mmweaver January 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Even though this coming semester I am 10 years removed from my student teaching experience at Marquette (which took place in the contrasting locations of Whitefish Bay and an MPS middle school) I still think about it daily and how much that experience shaped me to be the teacher I am today. Enjoy your time in the classroom this semester, it will be an enriching and enlightening experience (albeit a tough one!). Ride the waves that student teaching will bring your way and hang on tight! 🙂 I’m interested in following your blog and hearing about how everything goes. Trust me, Marquette College of Ed alums are rooting for you!! Good luck in the coming weeks!


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