Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Starting back to school after a break is always a mixture of emotions.  I am excited to get back into a routine and see my kids.  But I miss the lazy days of Christmas break, eating when I am hungry, using the restroom whenever I want, and snuggling on the couch reading.  This semester I have the added joy of having a student intern as I return.  It is bringing  a new mixture of emotions I did not expect. This series will give both our perspectives as we walk through the experience of working together in my classroom.

Mentor, Lori Rice:  The first day back I realized the immense responsibility I have in helping guide another person.  Lauren, my intern, showed up perky, ready to learn, and always observing.  As I went about my teaching day as usual, it quickly set in I was now responsible for providing evidence and thought to my actions.  All good teachers plan with reason, know their standards, and understand pedagogy and learning sequence.  I now have the added responsibility to voice this on demand.  Don’t get me wrong.  I feel confident in what I am doing.  I plan lessons with objectives in mind and my activities are thoughtful and purposeful.  But I had not thought about the sheer number of decisions I make each day.

Education classes always want to know about the who.  Lauren has questions about race, ethnicity, gender, military families, etc. now and so I am thinking of my students on a demographic level.  After a semester with them, they are my kids.  I know their strengths and weaknesses.  I know their interests and abilities.  Sometimes to the point, I have taken this for granted and don’t stop to think.  I am excited how having a teacher intern will push me as an educator and what this push will mean for my classroom.

Intern, Lauren Laudan  :There is a difference between having an opinion because you have been in a school and forming an opinion because you work in a school.  If you ever thought teaching was simply babysitting a group of kids for eight hours Monday thru Friday please come spend one day with me. Just one. I promise that is all it will take for your mind to be vastly blown.

Although I have known that teaching is a true calling, it was not until I spent 40 hours this week observing, teaching, and learning the ins and outs of what goes into the day-to-day life of a teacher that I truly saw the dedication, passion, and love teachers have for what they do.

Lori:  Having a day to plan with Lauren and my fourth-grade team was wonderful, but the official first day with kids was even better.  The students were excited to have a new teacher.  Lauren brought smiles and an energy to our classroom, reminding me of my excitement when I began this profession.  Teaching is something that begins in your heart.  I am excited to have renewal and energy in our classroom.

I was more apprehensive than I thought I would be the rest of the week.  Having a student teacher in my classroom I am hyper-aware of everything I do.  I know she is not there to judge, but I want to give her the best example possible. I want to model good teaching and questioning.  I want to be an example of time management.  I want to set her up for success and show her what quality teaching looks like.  My biggest surprise was how much we do every day.

As I taught Language Arts Wednesday, I realized the depth of knowledge we require of teachers today.  It goes beyond having a teacher’s guide and answer sheet.  In the lesson, we were discussing parts of speech.  The students have mastered nouns and verbs.  Someone asked about another word in the sentence though.  It was not part of the lesson; I knew what the “correct answer” was, but it made me realize how much we need to know as teachers.  The rest of the week I began to notice how many things I do outside of the teacher manual.  Teachers are such an amazing wealth of knowledge.  We are always on, there is not a down time.  Inquiring minds want to know where and when and how and why.  We have set amazingly high expectations of our educators.

Teacher language is another thing I have become aware of this week.  In a typical conversation we have  IEP, MTSS, ELA, NSGR and the other million acronyms associated in our daily lives.  Living in the field for 20 years it is a natural part of speech.  This foreign language just further complicate all we are asking new teachers to do.

Lauren:  My first week of student teaching has been a non-stop roller coaster ride. And by non-stop I mean I honesty don’t think these teachers ever sit down. When students go to specials classes, teachers are making copies, meeting about how to better meet the needs of their learners, and creating challenging and engaging lessons for the next unit. And even then you do not exactly “plan” how each day (or hour) is going to turn out. With 24 students in the class I am interning, I have noticed the needs of each child are vastly different. Whether a student needs extra attention, struggles with reading, or is exceptionally bright, each lesson must adapt to these needs. 

Throughout my college years, I would have been what they considered a “night owl”. I usually stayed up until midnight doing who knows what, but surprisingly I am often very productive in the late evening hours. That, however, has changed.  It’s day five of student teaching and 10 pm has become past my bedtime. I have never been so physically and emotionally drained. However, even when my alarm goes off at 6 am and it’s still pitch black outside, I look forward to coming to school because these kids have opened up to me, greeted me with hugs, and count on me to be there for them. And I can’t let them down. 

Follow Up:

Kids are amazing creatures.  While I am have spent the week with a million things running through my mind, trying to make sure I am delivering quality lessons and modeling strong teaching methods, they are continuing along as normal.  This is the only experience they know in this fourth-grade class.  They have adapted quickly to another teacher in the classroom.  They have already started asking Ms. Laudan for help or checking with her when they finish work.  They are learning.

Scheduling and organization are two more important things I have been teaching and modeling this week.  Lauren and I have worked out a schedule and order for the subjects to be slowly taken over.  We will start with co-teaching math and slowly add in science and social studies. My role will be to slowly step away, observe, offer feedback and provide time for reflection.  In a little over a month, I will no longer be teaching in the mornings.  While this is exciting and I am honored to watch Lauren learn, it will be a new role for me.  Today I made myself leave the room at recess so Ms. Laudan could get the students, help them fill in their agendas and dismiss them without me.  I felt a little misplaced.  It is going to be hard to let them go.

the student teacher diaries

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.