Last month marked my last days of field work at Villa Elementary School.
I can truly say that this placement has been one of the most worthwhile experiences of my entire life. I learned a lot from both my cooperating teacher and the students. Now let me take a moment to look back at my entire placement and look how it made me the teacher I am today (right after my field work ended).
On my first day, I felt incredibly nervous because I really had absolutely no clue what to expect. I knew I would be teaching middle school-aged children, but that could really mean anything. No matter what, I would be in for a major surprise.
After stepping into the office as a confused anxious newbie, I found my way (with some help) to my cooperating teacher’s classroom. This was when I met the sixth grade for the first time – and put my foot in my mouth a little too much. After taking some time to get a drink from the water fountain, I was suddenly ready for the second class, and just suddenly felt I knew how to handle them.
One major theme of my placement was learning how to find my confidence as a teacher. Even though I’m a junior in college, teaching is still very new to me. Eventually I found out how to confidently deliver material in front of grades five through seven; I also felt confident I could manage the classroom behavior.
After discussing with my cooperating teacher, I ended up recycling an activity I included in a lesson of a previous placement. Sounds like I would feel perfectly confident now that I was sure I knew I could manage the classroom? Nope. I became a nervous wreck once I realized that I was going to be observed. Yikes.
While I felt as though my lesson was a total failure (because it was nowhere nearly as great as I knew it could have been), I still managed not to make a total idiot out of myself. I just looked like the way you would expect a rookie teacher to look when being observed for the first time. Best of all, I was learning how to cover up my own anxiety in the classroom.
Since then, I have kept my anxiety to a minimum, which feels incredibly strange because (let’s face it) I am a naturally anxious person.
Now that I’d learned to better manage my anxiety, I taught my first full unit to the sixth graders. I found ways to hook student’s attention and even teach to multiple learning styles. I took the unit as an opportunity to use as many techniques regarding assessment and hands-on activities that I learned in my education classes, such as corresponding each corner of the room with a letter to a multiple choice question to allow movement, and using a prop microphone to encourage verbal answers.
When I was teaching the sixth graders, I also helped with grades five, eight, and seven. While I showed my ability to teach, there is still room for me to grow. One of my biggest assets as a teacher is that I always put the students first. I realize that this can be an issue because I sometimes have difficulties saying no to the students (I have said no when I needed to, but it was not easy!).
I formed many strong meaningful relationships with many of the students, and I feel very sad to leave them. While I am sure I taught them a lot about language arts, they taught me even more about what it means to be a teacher, and I am truly grateful for that.
Explore Gannon’s School of Education here.