When coming up with blog post ideas, I thought about what I wanted to read when i was a student teacher. I remember scouring the internet, youtube, and pinterest for people sharing their student teaching experiences. I wanted to know everything about it so I thought I’d share what my experience was like. I am planning a post about student teaching tips as well as a post all about edTPA so stay tuned for those. If you have any other ideas for posts, please leave your suggestions below!
I started student teaching at the end of August, a week before school actually started to attend the teachers’ inservice meetings. My school had three days of inservice and two days of open house conferences that first week. I enjoyed meeting parents and my students during the conferences and we were able to knock out some testing, which is always good.
The first couple weeks, I took notes on everything to refer back to once I had my own classroom. I am so thankful I was able to see how my cooperating teacher sets up rules, expectations, and starts building relationships from day one. By the second and third week, I was taking students to their specials and supervising snack time, while doing a read aloud.
My Class and School
I had 27 students in my 5th grade class and the district I was in was considered a rural area. There were four 5th grade teachers in my building and ten in the 5th grade team. The kids were awesome as were the people I worked with. The principal was easy to talk to and everyone was so supportive. Towards the end of September, I took over for math. In October, I took over our RTI block (mostly). At the end of October, I took over writing. At the end of November, I took over reading. December was my month of full teaching. In January, I had two weeks left where I observed other teachers and helped with paperwork for my cooperating teacher. This progression was perfect for me because we left the easiest subject to plan and teach to be added last and reading was that for my classroom. My cooperating teacher was fantastic at sharing resources. Most of the times, I just tweaked a few things and added supplemental materials for math and reading. Writing was my favorite subject because we used Lucy Calkin’s Writing Workshop and I was able to design more of the materials I used.
My supervisor came four times throughout the semester. My university required me to send my lesson plans the night before my observation and have them printed so she could follow along. After she would observe my teaching, we would immediately have a conference, which I didn’t really like because having more time between the lesson and the conference would give me time to reflect more on how I did. We would discuss things that went well and what I need to work on. My supervisor had high expectations of classroom management and always marked me low in that category, but wouldn’t give me strategies to try or what I could do to make this better. That was the most frustrating part of my entire student teaching experience. My supervisor also required me to write weekly journal entries asking, “What did you do this week? What went well? What would you do differently? What do you have planned for next week?” The typically only took ten minutes to type up and send to her.
Wisconsin has switched over to using the edTPA to assess how successful teaching candidates will be their first year of teaching. The edTPA is a portfolio of a learning segment where you document every step of the planning, teaching, and assessment process. You also write pages and pages of commentary. The year I student taught was the first year for my university that we (the student teachers) had to pass the edTPA. I will be writing another post all about tips to make the edTPA go successful, but what I will say here is: DO NOT WAIT UNTIL LAST MINUTE. It takes hours upon hours to complete this thing so start early. I did pass my edTPA the first time though and I was so happy I did!
My Last Day
My cooperating teacher made my last day wonderful. I ended up writing her a nice thank you note and bought her flowers and her favorite popcorn as a gift. She had set up a going away breakfast for another student teacher and me in the staff lounge in the morning so we were able to say goodbye to all the other faculty. My cooperating teacher’s 2nd grade daughter brought me some gifts of toys/learning games that she didn’t need anymore. When the bell rang in my classroom, my students came in giving me their cards. Two of the boys in my class remembered from the first day that I hate frogs, so they made about thirty origami frogs and had spread them all over my work area. At snack, the class presented their gift to me, which was a nice sign that said, “Thank you for being my teacher” and a picture frame of the class and I, which they had all signed. We then went sledding and it was the just perfect. The kids and I had so much fun. In the afternoon, we ended up watching a movie and eating ice cream. I only cried A LOT when dismissal time came around. I am so grateful of my students and cooperating teacher. It was the perfect way to end my placement.