Order Out of Chaos
I have a full-time student teacher from Eastern Illinois University, Mr. G, who began his full take-over of my classroom today. This is the first full-time student teacher I have hosted in my classroom in my five and a half years at Wiley. (I have hosted university students doing early field experience and student teachers who have been here for three days a week, all from the University of Illinois.)
One of the key aspects of full-time student teaching is doing a full take-over of the classroom for several consecutive weeks. After weeks of observing and co-teaching and taking over some of the instructional areas, it is now time for Mr. G to run the show. From bell to bell, he is in charge of planning instruction, teaching the whole class and small groups, directing tutors and volunteers in the classroom, managing student behaviour, holding students accountable for meeting classroom expectations, supervising recesses, taking the students to specials, etc.
It can be a daunting task. No matter how much preparation a student teacher does, no matter how smooth the transition is, when it comes to the full take-over, it can be overwhelming. An analogy I once heard is that it is like trying to hold two dozen rubber duckies underwater in a whirlpool while the jets are running at full power.
Out of this chaotic experience comes order. Sometimes the order happens by the end of the day, sometimes it comes after several days, but the order does come. The students adapt to the teaching styles of a new teacher, the new teacher adapts to the many different responsibilities that he or she has to attend to over the course of the day, and class becomes stronger as a result.
In the meantime, there are going to be rough times. There are going to be students pushing against the boundaries, students who want to know what Mr. G’s limits are, students who want to know if he is actually going to hold them accountable for learning. But there will also be bright moments. There are going to be times when every student in the room is focused on learning, when the noise levels will drop down dramatically, and students will feel the peaceful calm that should be the norm for the classroom. Parents, you can help by talking to your student about classroom expectations, about the role of a student teacher, and of the need to help contribute to a positive, safe learning environment.