Having just completed my second week of student teaching, I’m taking the opportunity to reflect and share my experience before being inundated with grading and lesson planning in the next few weeks. As a senior in my last semester at Green Mountain I am finishing my education degree by taking on the full-time schedule and responsibilities of a classroom teacher at Rutland High School. I’m in the early stages of this process, teaching a few lessons here and there, getting to know my students, and observing my cooperating teachers as I get ready to design and teach my own units.
My time is split between two classrooms. For two seventy-five minute periods per day I teach eleventh grade US History. One of my classes is general level and the other is college prep. By some miracle both of these classes have fewer than ten students, so I have lots of one on one time and can tailor each lesson to each student’s needs. Many of the students in my general level class have special education or behavior management plans, so working with this challenging population in such a small class will give me the chance to learn the intricacies of differentiated instruction.
My other class is Civics/Economics… With twenty-four seniors. During the spring semester. This class promises to be a challenge, especially since most of my students don’t want to be there (they’ve told me so). I’m also in the coldest classroom in the building. Despite these challenges I’m most excited about teaching this class. The content is varied and interesting, ranging from world poverty to supply and demand, even confronting the liberal/conservative divide in today’s politics. I’m going to have to learn a lot as I go, especially because GMC’s “Economics and the Environment” class left me with a different understanding of economics than most of my students and fellow teachers.
Within the next few weeks I’ll still be learning to balance the very different personalities of my two cooperating teachers, meet student needs to the best of my ability, make lots of mistakes, and seriously confront my own biases and opinions. I don’t want to make my students think the way I do, but I do want to help them learn the critical thinking skills to challenge assumptions and form their own opinions. I’ve already been at this for a couple weeks, leaving Poultney at 7am and returning to campus by 4 every day as my classmates are just getting into the groove of their first week back. Luckily I’m not alone, as there are two other GMC seniors student teaching in Rutland this semester. My crazy schedule combined with the fact that I live off campus means that I’m already pretty out of touch with GMC life, but hopefully I’ll settle into a groove and make some time to socialize this semester… maybe.
Written by: Alison E. Putnam