Congratulations to you all. You survived finals week (mostly) unscathed, and you're most likely at home with family, free food, free laundry, and zero academic obligations until well into the New Year. You can sit back and relax until the spring semester, knowing that you're not avoiding any responsibilities like you normally do.
I, on the other hand, am giving myself until after Christmas to relax, and then it's back to the books. I'm a senior education major, which means as I enter my final semester of school, I have to prepare for my student teaching placement.
I'm taking over a freshman high school English class in the spring, which means I have to re-read and prepare to teach Of Mice And Men and Romeo and Juliet, as well as plan out units on argumentative writing and literature circles.
Student teachers don't get much of a break, especially if they're planning to teach in the spring semester, because that time is used for planning. I'm not complaining, however; I've been looking forward to this for months. As a way to kick off my journey into the teaching world, I thought I'd clear up a few common misconceptions regarding student teaching.
Myth #1: We get paid to student teach.
FALSE! This isn't like an engineering co-op; I will not get paid a dime. In fact, I'll have to pay to take two different standardized tests to qualify for student teaching, as well as pay a hefty fee for this lovely aptitude portfolio that will be scored and used to judge whether or not I can receive my teaching license.
Myth #2: Student teachers are just classroom aides.
No, not really. For the first month or so, I will be observing my supervising teacher and getting to know the class. After those first few weeks, though, I slowly get to take control of the class until I'm basically the real teacher. Then it's all on me to teach the entire class, for all five periods.
Myth #3: The students will be totally cooperative because you're their new teacher.
HA! NO. If you ever had a substitute teacher in high school, you'll know that they're basically the universal indicator to goof off for the entire period. That's essentially going to be me for the first few weeks until the students get used to me and I start to earn their respect. Until then... I'm that sub you took advantage of in second period American Lit. Thanks.
Myth #4: Student teaching is easy because you don't have to take any "real" classes.
AGAIN, false. I actually have a colloquium class outside student teaching, which will meet for three hours every Monday night. All the student teachers must take this in concurrence with their student teaching.
I also have ton of outside planning, grading, and reading to do to in order to keep my class running smoothly. Remember that aptitude portfolio I talked about earlier? That involves me submitting a ton of work, lesson plans, and even videos of myself teaching lessons... so... yeah. Not necessarily a walk in the park.
Myth #5: The school will supply me with all the materials I need to teach and be successful.
Not necessarily true. I'm lucky, because my placement has access to a full library, carts of iPads, a big classroom, projectors, and the like. Not all placements are like this. Some won't have access to computers. Some students won't have books, paper, even pencils. So, while I might be fortunate to have access to technology, not all student teachers will.
Myth #6: I'll get a job right away after I finish student teaching.
No. Student teaching does NOT guarantee you a job at the school where you student teach. This experience is pretty much just a warmup that allows you to apply for and obtain a teaching license. I'll certainly be able to use the administrators at my student teaching school as references when I'm looking for a job. After I'm done student teaching, the real job search begins.
There you have it. Stay tuned for future episodes of my student teacher diary coming in the spring!