Post Written By: Abi Nixon
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science
Well, what an adventure these last few weeks have been! Last semester, I interviewed and accepted a position as an intern at Humke Elementary. This means that I have an intern teaching license and am able to teach alone in a classroom for fifty percent of the day. I am extremely happy with my decision and am really enjoying the experiences I am having through this unique student teaching option.
When I accepted this student teaching opportunity, I knew I would have to move. It was hard to leave La Crosse and not spend my last semester of college on campus. It was even harder leaving my roommates and friends. I did not really realize how alone you are when you are living alone until I moved into my new place and realized that the next time I would talk to another human being, face to face, would be when I went to school the following day! It is a very strange feeling, but it is a feeling that I think every person should experience. It is good to be thrown into a slightly uncomfortable place because that leads to growth. Plus, between all the social media sites, I am able to keep in contact with my friends. Now, I am very adjusted to living alone and enjoy living in a small community. Seriously, everyone I have encounter here has been so nice. My neighbor plows my driveway and everyone waves to each other. It is so refreshing to feel like you are completely welcomed into a new community. It is also great to feel completely welcomed into a new school community. My cooperating teacher and the other teachers at my school have welcomed me with open arms.
I could not ask for a better group of students to teach. They are characters, and I have already learned a lot about being an effective educator from them. My last field placement was in an 8th grade science classroom and moving to 2nd grade has been very interesting. WIthin the first few days of teaching, I had to really analyze the differences between 8th grader learners and second grade learners (because there are a lot of differences!). During Week 3 of student teaching, I began to really get the hang of an elementary school day and the progression of learning that happens with a second grader's mind. I like making top ten lists, so here are my top ten suggestions for new (or upcoming) student teachers to do during the first three weeks of student teaching!
- Start that edTPA right away! Seriously. Figure out what you are going to be teaching Week 1 and finish that Context for Learning and Planning Commentary within the first two weeks!
- Jump in right away! Ask your cooperating teacher if there is a lesson or activity that you can lead on the first day of your student teaching. This helps the students get to know you right away!
- Reach out and socialize with all the teachers not just your cooperating teacher (although socializing with your cooperating teacher is also very important). I love all the teachers at my school. I go on walks with my cooperating teacher and another second grade teacher every day at recess. Socializing with everyone you meet is a great way to get to know people and feel accepted into the school community.
- Go to community events! The third week of student teaching there was a great community fish fry that I went to, and it was great. What an awesome way to get to know the people who make up the community that surrounds your school!
- You are going to feel overwhelmed for the first few weeks. Breathe. It will all be okay and you will get the hang of it around Week 3! There is a lot that gets thrown at you the first few weeks of student teaching. Student teaching is a lot different than Field 1 and 2. You are at the school full days and you go to staff functions. It is great. Just remember to breathe and find ways to balance your life.
- Ask your cooperating teacher why they do what they do. Your cooperating teacher is a wealth of information. When they do something, ask them why they choose to do what they did. They have tons of resources to offer, so absorb their information.
- Get involved with lesson planning. If your cooperating teacher lets you, plan lesson plans with them. It is a great way to get the feel for the academic progression of your class.
- Take advice and use it! Your university supervisor and cooperating teacher will give you advice and feedback about your teaching. This feedback should not go through one ear and out the other. It should be put into practice!
- Don’t be afraid to contribute your own ideas! One of the best parts of student teaching is you are treated as a professional. It is so much fun to share your ideas and have other teachers like and use your ideas. Think about what you can offer to your school and share your strengths.
- Have fun and live in the moment. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so treat it as such. Engage with the students and put your heart and soul into your teaching. Learn all you can, laugh and have fun.