By Shannon Bentley — I remember how I was in my education classes, and people who were beginning their student teaching experience the next semester would tell us about the pain that they would suffer from going through the process.
One girl happily stated that she would always have her “drink” afterwards in order to keep herself motivated. I thought it was a joke and I didn’t believe that student teaching would be that hard. I mean – I believed that everyone in the college of education was a motivated individual who wanted to improve the achievement gap and help those succeed who were falling behind.
Boy I was wrong.
During my first week of student teaching, I thought that my teacher would ease me in to the classes in order to help me get to know the students and get my foot in the door to know their strengths and weaknesses. However, I was thrown in the arena with a blindfold on. She told me to create my own syllabus, formulate my own rules, create my lessons according to what I saw fit, and I fell completely apart. I felt like I didn’t know what to teach – and the worst part – how to teach it! Student teaching wasn’t about my usual moments where I had my occasional mini lessons that I would conduct during my field experiences. I have taken full control of a popular teacher’s classroom, and her students made me their enemy.
I have gotten the silent treatment from students, where if I asked the students a question – they would peer their eyes at me like a deer caught in the headlights – I thought that they didn’t understand me. Students would ignore me when I asked them about their work – I feel like I got caught in a battlefield, and I was losing. Fortunately, I have the support of my cooperating teacher and my co-teachers to help me through the struggles and the pain. But – if you are doing student teaching in the next fall semester, here are some tips to keep in mind when you begin.
- Prepare early! The more you prepare the better the structure of your classroom will be. Even if your co-op teacher eases you in to the classroom, it’s still best to know ahead of time how you want the classroom to run.
- If students shun you – don’t take it personally! Students between the ages of 14-18 years of age are learning how to mature and find out who they are as a person.
These two tips should do the trick! Being prepared and understanding how children grow are the only ways to survive student teaching. Everyone’s experience will not be horrible, and I am beginning to see more changes in my classrooms as the weeks go along. But – understand you have many people around you who are rooting for you to become something great – which is an inspiring teacher.
Wish me the best of luck the next couple of weeks.