Student teaching is the pinnacle of my academic career thus far, and I’m so happy to have reached this level of my studies. The professors at the College of Staten Island are extremely knowledgeable in their field of work, and their advice and guidance has been absolutely valuable. I feel somewhat sheltered heading into student teaching. All I’ve had so far is one hundred hours of observation heading into next semester. It has been great to learn tactics and tools in the classroom regarding becoming an effective teacher. Now, the time has come for me to put it into practice on my own. This is a necessary and valuable event in order for me to become a successful teacher.
My first experience on the reality of the teaching profession came to me when I took EDS202 with Professor Greg Seals. Smart as a whip, he gave me insight into what it’s like to truly be a teacher. He exposed us not only to teaching tactics, but tactics on how to deal with students as people, not just bodies in classroom seats. Around Halloween, we had a lesson on death and dying. Inevitably, you might find yourself with a student who has experienced death in some way, whether it be a pet, parent, or family member. He gave us the tools to guide the students through the process, and how to be a shoulder to cry on without overstepping boundaries between teacher and student. This is valuable because I have noticed through personal experience as a student that a teacher can sometimes be someone who gives you a shoulder to cry on in your time of need.
He also explained to us how physically and mentally draining the position can be. Some go into the profession because they think it’s somewhat of an easy gig. All summers off, all holidays off. Yes, that is a great aspect of the job. Yet, other aspects of it are much more demanding. Lesson plans, unit plans, and curriculum maps take up a huge chunk of your time. Grading papers and essays do as well. Once you decide to become a teacher, you’re all in. It will consume your life and your family with it. The percentages shown to us of teachers leaving the profession is astonishing. This only further improved my desire to become a teacher, because once I invest my time in something, I’m in all. I’m a perseverant person, and I don’t quit anything. I always finish everything I start. My mother has been a teacher for almost thirty years, my sister for almost ten, my fiance just starting. The guidance of these people has been absolutely invaluable to me in proving I’m right for this career and responsibility.
Dr. Berci, whose classes I have attended for the past year, has been really effective in teaching me the nuts and bolts. Her strategies in curriculum planning and lesson planning are second to none. She is extremely thorough in her assignments and assessments. While sometimes I wanted to rip my hair out focusing on one of her projects, when I’m finished I realize that each aspect is absolutely necessary if you want to become a great Social Studies teacher. The complication of the assignments, and the fact that I can complete them, absolutely sets me ahead of the pack. I know that due to her guidance I will truly stand out as the cream of the crop in the pool of teachers seeking jobs in the Department of Education. She has prepared us for literally anything that they can throw our way.
I have many personal strengths that I can bring to the table during my tenure as a student teacher. I am extremely organized in everything I do. I am always early, never on time. There is a mantra that I go by: Early is on time, on time is late, and late is absolutely unacceptable. I have been told that I write very well and am able to get communicate my point in the simplest of ways, making it easier for others to understand what I am trying to convey. I feel that this will benefit my students because they will always know what to expect from me. I always manage my time well and make sure that all my assignments are completed.
My weakness falls in my social skills. I have always been a quiet person. I think I will have much more trouble with colleagues than with students. I sometimes have trouble relating to my fellow college students. I am soon to be married and have a three year old son, while most people I attend college with are in their early twenties and don’t have as many responsibilities as I do. Hopefully this will change when I get into a school, because the demographics will be different. Some will be married, some will have kids, and I will be able to relate to them on a personal level. This may translate to the students as well. Although I was their age at one point in time, the world is completely different now than it was when I was a teenager. This may translate to trouble in dealing with their problems as students and as people. I plan to address them by brushing up on my communication skills. I think student teaching would be the perfect venue for me to do that.
During student teaching, my hope is that I will get to work with a diverse group of students. Not just diverse in the sense of race and nationality, but in the sense of academic and social abilities. I attended mainly white, high achieving student population Catholic schools for most of my academic career. It’s almost as if I’ve gotten used to that demographic and now wish to branch out to something different. I want to see how I can bring a student from one point to another. I would love to see a student have an “Aha!” moment because of something I’ve done. I would love to be a shoulder for them to cry on in their time of need. I would love to solve their problems. I would love to ease my cooperating teacher’s workload, even if just for a little while. Most importantly, I believe student teaching would be an affirmation for me. An affirmation that this is what I’m supposed to do and this is what I’m supposed to be. I would be extremely excited for the opportunity.