Today was my last day Student Teaching at Canyon High School. It was very bittersweet as I have come to love something about each of the students. I met my goal of learning every single one of their names and took the time to learn about them as individuals. I also became familiar with the teachers, the school, and the schedule. Today, I actually felt like this was just a normal day and then realized that it will all be changing again on Monday. Monday I will start Student Teaching at Goodwin-Frazier Elementary School with a new cooperating teacher.
Today I gave my cooperating teacher a small gift and thanked her for her service. I really enjoyed her critique, suggestions, and feedback. I thought that she was an effective mentor and I’m glad that I got paired with her. Although we may not have the same teaching styles, I still feel like I learned a great deal from her.
During some of my classes, students were sad to see me go. A large group of boys gave me a group hug after I announced that it was my last day and throughout the day several students stopped by during passing periods to give me a hug and say bye again. My cooperating teacher said that it’s moments like that when you know you’re doing something right and that you’re there for a reason. I really enjoyed learning which students really enjoyed being with me.
Today my cooperating teacher was pulled out to substitute for another class again. I feel like she’s been pulled out every single day this week. This gave me a final chance to flex my teacher muscles as I managed the classes during their work days. It was difficult to get students to work again; this time because it was Friday and they were all looking forward to the weekend. I can’t count how many times I heard, “I don’t want to work right now. I’ll do it over the weekend.” It didn’t help that my teacher extended her Friday deadline to Monday because of the shortened class periods this week. I really struggled getting students to work diligently.
I made sure to take photographs of all the student work from the lessons I created, though I wish I could have seen them finished. The clay creations from Art I are still sitting on the back shelves and I don’t know when they’ll be worked on again. The students keep asking me when they’re going to paint them, but it’s all up to my cooperating teacher. The Painting III/IV students were supposed to have finished their paintings today, but several of them did not, and some of them looked rushed or were turned in unfinished. I’m not sure if extending the deadline again would have benefited them or not because they tend not to work when the deadline isn’t close. Some of them also don’t appear to care about deadlines at all as one student who was nowhere near finished would not work on her piece today. I’m still learning how to set deadlines, yet remain flexible with the curriculum.
Overall, it was a pleasant day, but odd to think that I may never set foot in Canyon High School again. “Have a great life!” I called out to the students after the bell rang as I may never see some of them again. It’s always odd to me to think that I will get to know some of these people really well in a short amount of time and then never see them afterwards. It’s odd, but that’s how it would be when I’m a teacher as well. At least I’m not one who gets all choked up about having to say goodbye. I enjoyed my time at Canyon High School and I hope that this trend continues.
“My cooperating teacher was very friendly and playful with the students, so I’m trying to figure out whether I need to lighten up a bit or if it would benefit my teacher to harden down a bit. The 2nd and 3rd periods did go pretty well, but the 5th Block class was not as successful.”
Be friendly, have a good sense of humor but do not get “buddy-buddy” or students will think of you as one of them and will not treat you as though you have any authority. That may be why fewer students were on task when she took over, and may also have to do with why she sent you to the back of the room – When students want help they go to the one they feel is more helpful, more competent and she wanted to them coming to her for help. They don’t necessarily go to a “buddy”.
“This class, however, was chatty and talkative but were not paying attention to the presentation.”
That is why I recommend that teachers always have a worksheet in which students have to fill in a short bit of info from each slide. AND they need to turn it in immediately when the presentation ends and receive a grade for it.
I”‘m also confused as my cooperating teacher told me I had to work with clay. She shouldn’t be tired of it already when she requested it.”
Perhaps she lacks the knowledge and skills to have gotten the quality of work you did and she did not want to perform less well than you did.
“One student was even wearing my cooperating teacher’s glasses.”
— as they would with one of their buddy’s glasses.
“It seemed like no matter what she did, she couldn’t convince them to work.”
Sometimes that happens. But clear criteria, thorough instruction, an established deadline, a consistent teacher who helps students feel successful, all are important to student motivation.
“I still need to work on my “teacher voice.”
A teacher voice is one of confidence. I believe you have that. Some of my grads who have been out there a while have told me they never speak loudly so students must be quiet in order to hear. All of them have told me they use some sort of attention getting cue.
“How fast will I learn in my own classroom? How long will it take me to find my routine and figure out how I like to do things?”
You will learn a lot the first week but you will continue to learn (at a slower pace) until the very day you retire.
“I’m not sure how a teacher might combat this.”
It is hard because you may be the only teacher expecting them to work! So you just have to establish expectations for amount of work to be accomplished EVERY class period and stick to that routine even on special days. Otherwise, the students are in charge of the classroom.
“This situation may have also hurt the student’s ego, security, or even how he feels about his skills and decision-making. I was just very taken aback by the whole ordeal.”
You have good insight, but it would have been wise to have clued the teacher into the plan immediately before you allowed him to continue painting the background white.
“I believe that when students have more control over the assignments and what they are creating that they will come to like their artwork more.”
Yes. Choices, choices, choices make for personal investment and appreciation of one’s efforts and outcome.
“I’m really sick of seeing artwork in the trash or hearing of students wanting to paint over the whole thing.”
This has to be addressed before they stop working on the project. Criteria for composition usually guide them to a good composition which usually makes for good-looking work. I have found great success in showing students possibilities by letting them play in Photoshop or on my iPad app using Art Studio, or by my having time in class to show them some possibilities.
“I’m not sure if extending the deadline again would have benefited them or not because they tend not to work when the deadline isn’t close.”
That is why DAILY progress expectations and grades help pace student work.
“It’s always odd to me to think that I will get to know some of these people really well in a short amount of time and then never see them afterwards.”
You never know. Today at Church I saw as student from over 30 years ago. He was telling me he is an RN at Seton hospital and that it is an amazingly small world – how many of the people he knew as a student at ST. Paul or his high school have been under his care. Twenty years after Sherry Snowden taught some particularly difficult boys at Hays High School, she needed a fender repaired and those three guys owned the garage where she went. They told her how much good she had done them and fixed some additional dents and dings for free.