A letter from a student teacher to a student teacher

As a final activity, I asked the four student teachers I had the pleasure of supervising write letters to next semester’s group. The instructions were something like, “Write what you wish someone had said to you at the beginning of this experience.” Below is the letter from Jessica Post to those who follow. Jessica is an amazingly creative teacher who is dedicated to improving her practice and connecting to kids. Here’s what she had to say:

Dear Future Student Teachers,
I was very apprehensive before student teaching and was not sure I was
entirely ready for such an intense experience. All I heard from people about this
necessary step in the process was how much work it is and several unfortunate
stories. The thought of planning and teaching four classes was incredibly daunting
and my confidence was shaky. Time flew and before I knew it I was preparing to say
goodbye to the students whom I had grown to know and love. I feel guilty
sometimes when I think about how my 130 students probably taught me more than
I could ever hope to teach them. They continued to show up everyday and stayed
with me when lessons fell flat. They tolerated my cheesy jokes and random
tangents about my pets. They saw me as a teacher before I ever saw it in myself.

Sure, there were days I was tired and dreaded teaching and I imagine, some days,
the students felt the same. But I made it and more importantly I enjoyed it.
Currently, I feel invigorated and excited to have a classroom to call my own. Job
searching and planning for the future is now more daunting than student teaching
could have ever been.

Student teaching gives you the unique opportunity to talk through lessons,
try things you learned in class, and observe the inner workings of a school while
having a plethora of support. I had a wonderful and educational experience and I
sincerely hope that you have similar journeys. I have learned more about myself,
both as a person and as a teacher, during student teaching than I could have learned
in any class. Looking back on the past four months I can pinpoint some key things
that I believed helped me have a positive experience. I share these, in hopes that
they may be of service to you as well.

The most important thing is to accept and remember that everyone’s
experience is different and you should not feel pressured to do things a certain way
or at a certain pace. I observed and co-taught with my CT longer than some of my
colleagues. I had a very gradual transition into solo teaching while other members
of my group jumped in right away. At times I felt slightly inadequate for my sluggish
transition. Did my CT not think I was capable? Am I not qualified to do this? I
pushed my self-doubt aside and accepted the fact that this is what I am comfortable
with and how I learn best. Looking back I am glad I did it this way.

Secondly, make sure to continue doing things you enjoy and ask questions. I
was very busy but I made it a point to hangout with my friends and continue to be
active. This provided some much needed stress relief and made me a more amicable
teacher. Zac and your CT are here to help you and they are really good at answering
questions-especially Zac, he is awesome and you are lucky to have him as a
supervisor. Listen to their suggestions but always be yourself. If something doesn’t
feel right, even if it was their suggestion, don’t do it because if you’re not invested in
it or believe in it, neither will your students.

Accept that some lessons are going to be awesome and others will fall flat.
Always be reflective and critical and write down suggestions as if you were going
to teach that lesson again. I kept sticky notes and stuck them to my lesson plans
to remember what worked, what didn’t, how I would change it, and if the students
liked it. I also went through my CT’s file folders (with his permission of course) and “borrowed” lots of project ideas, rubrics, and assessments. This will undoubtedly be of service to me when I land a job of my own.

For some weird reason I cannot explain, my friends do not find my stories
about the student building forts in the corner of my classroom or my really engaging
lesson that mimics Tosh.O’s web redemptions amusing. Therefore, I befriended
the other members of my cohort and we met every weekend for breakfast. The
first hour we were at the restaurant consisted of eating and sharing stories from
the week. I found these friends are much more responsive to my stories. Then we
would lesson plan, bounce ideas off each other, complain about the TPA, or grade
papers for 2 or 3 more hours. I suggest finding a restaurant is not incredibly busy
and does not mind if you camp out for several hours (I was a server for a long time
so I am very sympathetic to the server’s plight and customer dining etiquette).
Always let them know you intend to stay for a long time and tip your servers well.
Serving PSA aside, this was very beneficial and it provided some much needed help
and support. I strongly suggest this.

Nearing the end of my experience I visited other teachers I have come to
know and respect throughout the school. I observed them and took pictures and
notes of things I liked in their classrooms. In particular I focused on daily routines,
resources, and classroom management. These observations were much more
fruitful than the ones done in practicum because I have experience and specific
things I am looking for. It was also fun to see students with other teachers. Some of
them act completely different than they did in my class. This was very helpful and
allowed me to see other teachers in action (something we won’t get to do as much
when we have our own classrooms).

Try not to get overwhelmed and remember that you are in control of what
you get out of this program. I sincerely wish you the best and I am very excited for
you. I hope you have a wonderful time student teaching and learn a lot from the
experience.

One thought on “A letter from a student teacher to a student teacher

  1. Huh. I had forgotten about the PLN. Back in the dark ages, before cell phones and the Internet, I did my student teaching in a high school outside Cincinnati. In the semester before, we started impromptu meetings of our methods class cohort at a local bar on Friday afternoons. As we moved into student teaching, this turned into a barcamp of sorts, where we’d spend some time commiserating over the week, and then share successes and challenges. A few times, our professors even stopped by to see what we were up to.

    In teaching, it’s easy to be an island. By nature, many of us can be fussy control freaks who don’t want others telling us what to do. But when we work together, we can benefit from others’ experiences and share those success stories that our families and friends don’t want to hear. Ultimately, our students are the ones who benefit.

    Thanks for sharing.

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