Five weeks down, five to go in my student teaching assignment. It got off to a slow and cold start – we were supposed to go back to school Tuesday, January 7th but instead school was cancelled for two days due to snow and then we had 2-hour delays for the rest of the truncated week. Since my mentor teacher wanted to ‘ease’ me into teaching that meant my first ‘week’ was spent doing more observation.
The next two weeks commenced in fits and starts with more delays and snow days sprinkled throughout. On delay days the schedule gets switched around and of course, the class time is shortened. It made working on my timing really difficult and it was hard to get to know the more than 140 students in my classes with the mixed up schedule. But finally, even with snow days and delays (yes, winter is still with us) I feel as though I’m getting the hang of it.
I’m the regular classroom teacher these days – my mentor teacher hangs around in the room for the most part, going through cupboards and filing cabinets, discarding some things and packing other things away. He will be retiring at the end of the school year. The students still sometimes look to him to answer questions and he always refers them to me. We talk a lot about teaching – he gives great advice – about the students and the school and changes he’s seen over the years. I am lucky to be doing my student teaching with him.
He threw me a curve ball last week – I was all set and ready to start teaching the rock cycle and types of rocks when he came across an old periodic table web quest as he emptied out a filing cabinet and decided that the students really needed to know more about the elements before they learned about rocks! In an instant my plans were upended and I was preparing to teach a 7-day unit on chemistry instead of earth science! Well, that’s the joy of 7th grade science – it is still a general science class so you can touch on all sorts of topics. I will admit to borrowing my high school daughter’s Chemistry for Dummies book that evening to brush up on the periodic table! Luckily, as long time readers know, I’m a fairly flexible person and can roll with the punches. I suppose that will be a good skill for a teacher to have.
I’ve had two observations from my university supervisor and its all “keep up the good work”. My mentor teacher feels I’m doing well – he gave me such high scores on my mid-term evaluation that he joked there wasn’t much room for growth (a big part of the schools evaluation is how much growth the students show)! We often co-teach, especially labs when having an extra hand makes a big difference in getting everything done.
There’s a general expectation in the university program that we are all going to want to teach high school and in fact there’s a bit of a prejudice against middle school. But I’m enjoying it – middle school is a great age as far as I’m concerned – the students are fun, interested and engaging. And I realized, as I walked through the halls the other morning, smiling at some, exchanging greetings with others, they are my students – at least for the next five weeks.