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Old 05-15-2011, 12:26 AM
iheron iheron is offline
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1
Special Education Teacher
Student teaching nightmare - both mentor and supervising teacher are negative about m

I am currently completing a terrible student teaching experience as a special education teacher in an elementary resource teaching room ( kindergarten through 3rd grade). Both my mentor teacher (the teacher whose classroom I am teaching in ) and the supervising teacher from my college have given me consistently negative feedback about my teaching abilities and knowledge , my attitude toward the students and my organizational skills. I have tried to correct what they tell me to but they both have almost flat out told me that I should not be teaching elementary age children. They suggest that I should teach high school special education instead. I am willing to teach high school but I have one big problem: How can I possibly use these two persons as references when I try to get a job soon? I don't trust what they will say about me, even if I am applying for a high school teaching job. I feel that in addition to their professional criticism of my teaching skills that there is also a personal animus against me. I have no one else to use as references except these two. I haven't worked since the end of 2008 except for some substitute teaching here and there, none of which I can use as references. What can I do? Any suggestions?
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:54 AM
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Cerek Cerek is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,139
North Carolina
Middle School Math Teacher
First of all, we need to know exactly what criticisms they have about your performance. We also need to know what corrections you have made in response to those criticisms. What comments or criticisms were then offered in response to your corrections?

Did the CT feel you had made a conscious effort to make the changes (s)he suggested, or did (s)he get the sense you didn't listen to what was actually said and still tried to do your own thing?

The fact they both feel you are better suited for high school, rather than elementary, is not a negative criticism - it is a professional (and personal) observation. They aren't saying you are bad teacher that shouldn't be in the same room as Special Ed kids, they seem to be saying your style and personality are better suited for a different age group. There is nothing wrong with that.

I know *I* would not be the best elementary teacher because my personality and style simply does not fit that age group very well. I feel I could do a respectable job teaching elementary math, but I know for a fact I am far-better suited for middle school and HS students. In fact, if I had to choose, I would say the age group I would be most effective with would be grades 7-9. That doesn't mean I am a bad teacher, it just means that is the age group I feel I am best suited for.

I think it would be a good idea for you to speak with the CT and Uni ST individually about their criticisms and your concerns - especially the idea of using them as references. It is perfectly acceptable to ask each of them what they would say to a potential employer who called them for a reference. It might be considered poor form or protocol to ask that under most circumstances, but I think it would be acceptable in your situation. I think it is a given they would NOT give you a good recommendation for an elementary Special Ed position, but that might not be the same thing they would say for a HS position. In fact, they might consider it a big step forward that you accepted their criticism objectively and constructively.

I really don't see that you have anything to lose by just being up-front with them both about your concerns.
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Old 05-15-2011, 01:24 AM
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Peachyness Peachyness is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 6,184
US of A
3/4, Classical Educator
Do you only have one student teaching assingment? If so, then yes, that really does bite. At my university, we had to complete two student teaching assigments. My first one started off fine. Then, on my very last day, my master teacher said that I wasn't a good teacher, that all I did was complain (what?), and that I should repeat this first assignment because I won't be able to handle the second assignment where I do more work. Pffffft, that was just weird. So, I did my second one and that one went fantastic. I asked my first master teacher for a letter of recomendation and she refused. Thankfully, my university supervisor and my second master teacher liked me and wrote letters of recommendation for me and I used them as references.

What if you asked the principal to come in and observe you a few times? What about your professors? Can you ask a few of them to come in and observe you teach? I know many of them observed me teach through field work classes before I started student teaching. I'm pretty sure I used some of them as references when I first started out looking for a job.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:35 PM
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YoungTeacherGuy YoungTeacherGuy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,982
Assistant Principal (K-6)
I only had one student teaching assignment (in a 2nd grade classroom). It was THE BEST experience ever. My Master Teacher was amazing and we've remained friends over the years. Thankfully, at the end of my student teaching assignment (late May of '05), I was hired by the same school district for the upcoming school year. I really love my school district and can't believe I've worked here six years already!
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