Student teaching is a great experience in many ways and an awesome change from traditional college courses here at Simpson. It is certainly an experience that has provided me with numerous benefits thus far.
It is very similar to the practicum adventures, but without the usual hectic scenario of getting a few specific lessons in at a few specific times. For the most part, student teaching is very flexible and provides ample time to experiment with various teaching methods and philosophies.
Being in the same classroom for such an extensive time makes it easier to feel comfortable around the students. In just one week of student teaching, you will have spent the equivalent in contact hours to a semester’s worth of practicum.
Another development from spending all this time in the field makes you feel a greater sense of ownership in the classroom and obligation to the students. I planned one particular lesson about Hank Aaron and racial intolerance because I felt that I would shortchange them if I did not.
What I cannot stand is hearing people claim that most of what they have been taught is not applicable during student teaching. I heard these various claims last year and I can tell you firsthand it’s simply not true.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some experiences you will have that Simpson has not prepared you for. However, they are generally types of experiences that hardly anyone could prepare you for.
It is important to keep in mind here that the education department at Simpson is not some manifestation of Teaching for Dummies, giving you a step-by-step solution to every scenario, it’s a department filled with seasoned educators that help train both your judgement and intellect to the level of a professional educator.
The mission of Simpson’s teacher education program is to “nurture and prepare highly effective teachers who are competent, caring, and reflective.” Traditional college courses tend to focus and build on competence, so student teaching is a great way to utilize the caring and reflective dispositions.
Personally, I would say the reflective disposition has helped me out the most. Being able to critically analyze how a particular lesson, unit, or situation went has paid out more dividends that I ever could have imagined. I feel the biggest professional growth I have experienced has come from reflection.
One other particular aspect that I have applied from traditional college courses, especially from educational methods courses, is creativity. I have found student teaching is an awesome time to come up with cool and interesting lessons that really engage the students. Of all the benefits, I feel the biggest one is students actually believe I am “cool” for teaching creative lessons. Well, at least I hope so.
Overall, now at the halfway point, I am very satisfied with my student teaching experience. However, it comes with one major flaw, which is a flaw of all college experiences: it goes by much too fast.