Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Student Teacher Woes

I have an amazing young student teacher.  She is professional, informed, and creative.  (She has the Common Core App on her phone, for God's sake!  Who does that?)  She feels more like a colleague than a student teacher.  I bounce ideas off of her.  We look for solutions together.

And then I have to wonder...maybe all (or most) of my former student teachers were like this, but I was too young and sure of myself to pick their brains.  I wonder how many opportunities I have missed.

So, when am I aware that she is the student teacher and I am the teacher?

*When she is finishing one unit and planning for the next one.  It feels a bit overwhelming to her.  Especially, when the unit she is finishing is one that she developed in college with oodles of time to research, submit it, and rework it.
    I remember this feeling.  Heck, I still feel this way from time to time! So, we are working on the next unit together. She will see that, though it is work, it can be done. (It will drive you crazy, but it can be done.)

*As she is grading papers. The light slowly dawns on her that about 10% of the students plagiarized.  It was like watching air escape from a balloon.  She was so disappointed. Academic dishonesty will be a discussion on this blog for another day, but she and I came up with a plan for this to be a teaching moment.  And as she is teaching them, I am teaching her.
    You can't teach these things from a book. Sometimes, students will break your heart, but you can't let them break your spirit. And you can't let them cheat themselves out of learning the important things: they have far too much ability to simply copy someone else.

One other thing I hope she is learning:

There's always a critic.  It might be the kid who complains about the assignment you love, the colleague who shares a negative comment they overheard about your class, or an administrator who doubts what you are doing or suggests that what you are doing is not enough.  Some weeks, the critics are all you hear.  The goal is not to let yourself become the critic.  And that is always easier said than done.
     Most of us are hard enough on ourselves without the words of the critics.  But, we have to remember to listen carefully.  There are students who show their appreciation in quiet ways, colleagues who copy an assignment or technique (no better flattery than imitation), and an administrator who asks us to do some work that few others will try.  Their words might not speak their praise, but frequently their actions do.

I remember how tough, but also how darn much fun, student teaching was.  And I'm remembering it all over again, watching a cute little redhead as she finds her way. I am fortunate to be watching excellence in action.  I'm pretty sure the future of education will be safe in her hands.

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