A Day in the Life of an Aspiring Teacher

Where have the last five weeks gone?

Posted on: September 19, 2010

Seriously. Where HAVE the last five weeks gone?

My student teaching semester has started with a whirlwind of activities. I met my cooperating teacher, my classes, my students, my co-teacher, a bunch of other teachers and administrators who I can not remember the names of, as well as many other things.

I had a little bit of a snafu that threw off my weeks by one. I had a financial aid issue on campus and therefore was not allowed to student teach for a week while it got taken care of. However, that is over and we’re moving on…

For some reason, I always imagined that student teaching would be some glorious thing. I would be handed pre-made lesson plans and stand up in front of the room reciting the lesson exactly as it was given to me. My students would respond with thoughtful answers and they would love me.

Boy was I wrong.

The classroom I’m in is what they call a co-teach room which means that 40-60% of my students have IEPs. This means I am required to have a special education teacher in the room with me at all times. The problem lies in the fact that the school does not have enough money to hire that many special education teachers so instead of someone that knows what they are doing and how to deal with each student with an IEP, I am given an “educational aid” in my classroom. While it’s nice to have another teacher in the room with me at all times, he seems to think his role is to be “friends” with the students and yell at them to be quiet. It’s weird.

The first four (three) weeks of my student teaching were simply observation. I watched my cooperating teacher while she taught. It was interesting to see how she formed her relationship with her students. She earns their trust and doesn’t treat them like they are dumb, while explaining to them that she understands what they are going through. (Most of my students have no desire to go to college– they are mainly working on learning trades)

Last week, I started teaching my 2 classes of sophomores. It was interesting. We were finishing a novel that was chosen by my cooperating teacher (CT), which was interesting because it was not a novel I would have chosen. At the school I am at, we are encouraged to read novels instead of simply using the textbook but the problem is that there are not enough novels to be able to allow the students to take them home. And because I have a lot of special education students, we have to read almost everything aloud in class. This causes time to go slowly and painfully. The students in my classes that do not have IEPs complain about the reading aloud all the time but there is not really anything we can do about it.

So I was teaching the end of the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. They liked the end and most of them enjoyed the novel. On Thursday I had my first observation by my school of education advisor (only 4 days after I started teaching). It went well, though I didn’t get to the activity I wanted to do. My advisor also felt the need to jump in and ask my students questions. (he used to be a high school English teacher as well)

After he left, I cried.

I wasn’t really upset (though I had hoped I could get to the activity) but it was simply that the stress from the past 5 weeks had been building up and I finally needed a release. My CT encouraged me and told me I did a great job but I was still upset.

I’m scared to death of failure.

While I glad to have such freedom for designing my curriculum (within their assigned curriculum) this semester, I wish I had a little more direction from my CT. I have a hard time figuring out how to teach writing. That’s my next task to tackle.

All of my thoughts seem to jumble right now and I am sure there are a million more things to say. However, I am ending this post for the night. My hope is to be able to keep this going almost as a journal, updating daily with information about how things are going.

Until tomorrow…

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