Today, my cooperating teacher was not in attendance as I student taught at Comal Independent School District’s Goodwin-Fraizer Elementary School. She had told me that she would not be in attendance today or tomorrow and that she had two different substitute teachers set up.
As I walked into the classroom, I met the substitute teacher and she was surprised to meet me as she hadn’t been informed that there was a student teacher. My cooperating teacher had printed out two packets of information for the substitutes and myself for each day that she would be out and I had noticed that she hadn’t included my existence on them. At both my high school student teaching experience and my middle school internship, my cooperating teachers always wrote, “I have a student teacher, Miss Brooks. She’ll be able to help you,” at the top of their substitute papers for when they would be out. Again, it seems like I’m an after-thought for my cooperating teacher.
I also noticed that today was a much better day than the previous days. I got along well with the substitute teacher and enjoyed spending the day with her. Unfortunately, I felt as if I wished that she was my cooperating teacher because of how comfortable I felt with her. She was inviting and welcoming as she spoke with me and recognized my presence. There weren’t any awkward silences between the two of us and she shared responsibilities with me as she asked if I’d like to teach the next class and told the students to ask me for help instead of her because she didn’t have an art background. I also liked the way she interacted with the students better, as she wasn’t as strict and direct with the students as my cooperating teacher. She also showed interest and enthusiasm in her inflection, especially when she spoke with younger students. She delivered the same exact lesson to the kindergarten students as I’ve observed yesterday and the day before, only this time the audio actually sounded like a kindergarten class. I also noticed that the kindergarteners grasped the concept much better as they were much more well-behaved than the last two groups and didn’t need as much help as the previous classes. This could be a class-specific difference, but I believe that the instruction was easier for them to understand and made more appealing.
If I end up teaching elementary school, I think that I’ll adopt a teaching style more similar to this teacher than my cooperating teacher. It seemed more natural to me to be enthusiastic and excitable with the young students than monotone and direct. They also seemed to respond to that style better.
I haven’t yet reflected on the lunch duty that my teacher and I perform each day. Each day, my teacher is given 30 minutes for lunch and 45 minutes of lunch duty. My first day of lunch duty, my teacher explained to me that we were there to monitor the students and assist them. She explained that they would ask us to open things for them or to retrieve things that they forgot to pick up from the lunch line, such as ketchup, utensils, and napkins. I was a bit surprised that that was part of our responsibilities as I walked back and forth from the students and the lunch line to retrieve objects.
I felt like a waiter being called upon each time a student raised his hand.
I’m sure that this system was put in place to maintain order as students are not getting up from their seats to retrieve objects, but I felt like it was a failed opportunity to teach them responsibility. A student didn’t need to remember to grab their items from the lunch room because a teacher could retrieve it for them later. It just felt incredibly odd to me to be at the students’ whims and I felt like I was their servant. The students were also not allowed to leave their seats to throw away their trash. Instead, I was instructed to wheel around a trash can to every student at the end of the lunch period. The students remained sitting until their homeroom teacher retrieved them at the end of lunch and instructed them to line up and return the classroom.
This reminds me of an article I read recently that talked about how our students are instructed to stay seated and be quiet for the majority of the school day. It talked about how this could create restlessness, fatigue, boredom, and a feeling of helplessness as the students aren’t engaged in an active and interesting way. I’ve been constantly reminded of this point and have made an effort to give my students the chance to get up and move around during my lesson plans within an energizing opening activity.
It’s odd to me that there’s such a stark contrast between student and teacher where the students are told to never stand up and the teachers are told to never sit down.
Tomorrow, I’m excited to meet the second substitute teacher and hope to learn new techniques from him or her. I’m hoping that tomorrow will go as well as today seemed to.