Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Student Teaching, Stress, and The Daily Show (Sidwell Style)

So far, my student teaching experience has gone very well. All the students are nice, my cooperating teacher is extremely helpful, and I have even been allowed to already take the lead in teaching a couple of assignments. Really, there hasn't been anything negative to report about the experience so far. However, I can already tell that my schedule for the next few months is going to exhaust me.

There is the student teaching itself, which is basically a full time job I don't get paid for (I actually have to pay my college extra for tuition because it is extra credit hours). Then I have 3 classes to take 2 nights a week: one is a graduate class, and one is a class where I am putting together different pieces of my teaching portfolio every week. I also have to keep my part-time job because I am poor, and have bills to pay (I mainly work on the weekends, when I do have time off from student teaching). Finally, I have a wedding to plan with my fiance, who I am already seeing a lot less of due to my busy schedule (and we live together). Free-time, and regular sleeping hours will be rare, if existent at all.

Fortunately, there are things to help me with the stress. The Daily Show is one of them. Here is a link to a couple of web clips to an education related story: the Obama girl's first day of school.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reflections Upon Day One of Student Teaching

My first day of student teaching went really well. The teacher is great, the students are great, and everyone I have encountered so far has been very nice to me. It does turn out that I am working exclusively with severely disabled students. Every one of them is probably functioning at low level intellectual and cognitive functioning. The array of diagnoses, as best as I can tell, range from autistic to mentally retarded to visually impaired. The students are learning simple reading, math, and life skills. But they are very nice kids, and I look forward to working with each and every one of them.

In addition, my assigned teacher is as nice as can be. She is able to answer every question I have, rarely loses control when stressed, and already treats me like a colleague. In fact, I consider her to be the antithesis of my old boss at the preschool I worked at. She was very impatient, and felt children should be trained like dogs (she herself has admitted both things). The stark contrast between who I am working for then and now incredible.

I will say the only downside so far is getting used to the schedule. I am definitely not used to it yet, but I know I will have to get used to. This is something I am going to be doing for many years to come.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Student Teaching: First Day

I am both nervous and excited because in less than 2 hours, I begin my student teaching. For the next six weeks, I will be working with high school freshmen at one of my hometown's high school buildings. At the end of those six weeks, I will then student teach at an elementary school. Although I am earning my certification to work with students with mild disabilities, I believe I will be working with some students with more "severe" or "multiple" disabilities as well. I'll correct that if I am wrong though. I should also note that the teacher I am assigned to is someone I personally know, and is very nice. This should make things a little bit easier.

What do I hope for in the next 6-12 weeks? I hope to learn new skills, and gain insights as to what it will mean to become a good teacher of students with special needs. This includes learning more about the IEP process, which I am currently not as familiar with as I need to be. In addition, I hope to boost my confidence level that I will be able to become a teacher, and a good one at that. Although I know this is what I want to do for a career, I still have my doubts as to whether or not I will be an effective teacher in the end. The last teaching job I had as a preschool teacher was a nightmare where a) I never really had control over my students, and b) I was always arguing with my boss. Plus, I know several people who trained to become a teacher, but then changed their mind after horrible student teaching experiences. I will try not to fall into that pit that happens all to often to aspiring teachers. Rather, I hope to rise to the challenges that come before me, and to make a difference in the lives of the students.

While I was trying to fall asleep last night (earlier than I normally do), I did something I don't do that often: I prayed. I know it is strange thing for an agnostic to do so. But then again, as a Christian Agnostic, it is not that much of a stretch to pray. I may or may not be praying to someone or something, but it doesn't hurt to do it anyways. Anyways, I prayed not only for guidance and success in my student teaching experiences, but I also prayed that guidance will transfer over into everything else that is to come for me: marriage, the beginning of my teaching career, etc. As I mentioned in my last post, this is the biggest year of my life because it is the first year of the rest of my life in so many ways. And it all begins today. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009: It's Kind of a Big Deal

2009 will be a big year for me. I should be finishing my certification, probably my Masters (fingers crossed on both of those), hopefully finding a job as a special needs teacher somewhere in the state of Missouri, and getting married. Without doubt, this is going to be the biggest year of my life up to this point. And it all starts a week from today, when I start student teaching.

Above, I have temporarily changed my blog title to indicate my current teacher status (although the URL will stay the same). As I have said recently, my blog will probably turn into a journal, rather than a place to post and comment of headlines in the news. One of the most important aspects of education is tracking progress. I hope that, for the next 4-5 months, this blog will not only be a great outlet to blow off steam about my daily activities, but I also hope it will track my progress (or, God forbid, lack thereof) as a pre-service teacher. I also hope the accounts written in this blog can be a document that other education students can look upon for insight of what they might encounter in their student teaching experiences. From time to time, I do hope to write a little bit on what is going on in the news (education and otherwise). But don't expect a lot of that.