By Morgan Givney
Crying on the drive home from your first day on the job is not what most people would think of as an ideal start. This is what Hannah Podshun, English senior, experienced during her first week student teaching at Brooks Magnet Middle School in Wichita.
While she faced hardship in the beginning, Podschun describes her time student teaching as being a time of preparation and learning. “My first week of student teaching was definitely the hardest week of my life. I cried myself home from school every single day because I felt unprepared and, quite frankly, like a failure,” said Podschun.
As the semester has progressed Podschun said she has built relationships with her students and coordinating teacher which has helped her become more confident. These relationships were affirmed with recent parent teacher conferences. “There were several parents who were excited to meet me because their son or daughter had been talking about me at home and had loved having me as a teacher. Even though times were tough, my first week especially, having the validation that my students appreciate me and know that I care about them was priceless and incredibly encouraging,” said Podschun.
Commanding a classroom of rambunctious first graders has proven to be a different atmosphere than learning about them in an undergraduate class for Kaley Rodriguez, elementary education senior.
Rodriguez says that there is a lot that goes into teaching that can become overwhelming. Teachers wear many hats and educating is only one of their many duties. Ensuring that students are following the rules, keeping on schedule and learning the concepts being taught are some of the duties Rodriguez is experiencing while student teaching in a first grade class at Adams Elementary in Ark City.
It is the seemingly small victories that students conquer that excite Rodriguez as a teacher. “I think the best time I have enjoyed is when I see my kids excel at something. I have a student who entered first grade at the beginning of the year not knowing sounds of the letters at all. She can now read constant vowel constant words fluently like the word cat,” said Rodriguez.
April Middleton, elementary education senior, is also teaching at Adams Elementary. Middleton found herself immediately thrown into leading a classroom. “During my second week of student teaching, my cooperating teacher was absent, and she let me take over her classroom for the whole day. I hadn’t even taught a single class because I was still in the observing phase. It was an adrenaline rush to have all the power and feel like a real teacher for a day,” said Middleton.
Middleton says that the most influential thing she has learned has been how to manage a classroom. “I have learned how to better multitask, problem solve, and manage student behaviors. My college classes prepared me to plan for instruction techniques, but nothing can really prepare you for the day-to-day surprises you’re faced with in a classroom, besides actually teaching,” said Middleton.
Rodriguez has learned similar lessons in her time student teaching. “I have learned different classroom management strategies and I have learned how to get behaviors under control. Being an undergrad and writing plans on campus is one thing but implementing them into a setting for real, that is a true experience,” said Rodriguez.
The classroom experience is preparing them to run a class of their own. “I have so many tips and advice written out for the future me as I get a job and run my own classroom. Turns out it’s a whole lot of work and preparation, and I am so happy to have this time during student teaching to experiment with new ideas and observe procedures,” said Podshun.
The time spent in the class has excited Rodriguez to be in a classroom of her own. “I am getting more anxious for May to come because that means I get to start my profession for real. But in the same breath, I am going to miss my students after this experience as a student teacher,” said Rodriguez.
Middleton feels that student teaching has been the best preparation she can get to prepare her for the future as a teacher. “What can prepare you more for your job than actually performing the job with guidance? I still can’t wait to be a teacher and I feel that I very prepared because of this experience,” said Middleton.
Morgan Givney is a junior majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.