The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Turning Things Over

I have had the privilege of hosting a wonderful student teacher in my classroom every Tuesday and Wednesday this semester. (And yes, I will always refer to any university students in the College of Education who have been placed in my classroom as student teachers, regardless of their status within the program; student teachers are not only those doing full-time placements in the spring!) For the past several months, she has worked with me and with my students, learning and teaching and growing in her craft as an educator. As an early field placement, this semester has been intended to be an opportunity to receive hands-on training before starting her full-time placement in January.

One of the tasks given to student teachers at this juncture of their pre-service careers is to experience two days in “full take-over” mode. Up to this point, she has used my lesson plans or my ideas when planning instruction, following my routines and deferring to my judgement. (That being said, I don’t think I have ever told her an idea she had was bad or should not be used!) Today and tomorrow, however, the tables are turned: she did the planning, came up with the lessons, designed instruction, and determined what assessments she would use. I provided advice, but she got to do all the “hard” work.

I always have a hard time turning things over, not because I don’t trust my student teachers, but because I am just so used to teaching. It is what I do and what I have done for such a very long time. (Whenever anyone asks how long I have been a teacher I pause before answering thusly: I am in my fifth year of teaching full time and worked as a substitute teacher for three years before that. However, I first started teaching when I was thirteen years old and never really stopped. So I’ve been a teacher for over nineteen years!) I am glad that I had the opportunity to turn things over to my student teacher today, though. I was able to watch as she grew even in the few short hours she was with the class. When you are the one in charge, you suddenly realise that you have a voice and you have authority and you can use it. Sure, there were some students in our room who were challenging and yes, there were a few times when I had to interject, but those were special circumstances.

All in all, day one of her full take-over went very well! I am excited for tomorrow and I hope the students are, too!

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