Difficulty With Teacher

Discussion in 'Student & Preservice Teachers' started by dodgerblues, May 15, 2010.

  1. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 15, 2010

    Has anyone else ever experienced any difficulty working with their cooperating teacher? I'm in my first block of student teaching, and I think that working with the teacher is way, WAY more stressful than working with the students. There are days when my teacher will show up in a bad mood that really messes up my vibe for the rest of the day. It has gotten to a point where I don't feel comfortable asking my cooperating teacher questions, which just further strains our relationship because they'll sometimes stop me in the middle of a lesson to say something like, "What? I wish you talked to me about this beforehand".

    My cooperating teacher gets upset when I don't show up well before school starts (I've begun arriving at least half an hour before school starts--sometimes arriving before even the teacher gets there) and twice I've been asked to step outside while they make a personal phone call during those mornings. The other day, my teacher was particularly stressed and flat out told me that they needed to be alone and have the classroom to themselves. Granted, I understand that they are going through an extremely tough situation this week, but crying in between periods does not help me build confidence in my teaching abilities.

    All of my other classmates are telling me stories about how supportive and helpful and understanding their cooperating teachers are. When I told them how hard I work, they literally almost cried laughing. I do feel like I'm learning a lot more than my classmates are, but I just wish I had some support sometimes.

    Everything else has been great--I'm really enjoying teaching and working with the students, and I've really begun developing a great rapport with a number of them, but it's driving me crazy how stressful it is just to work with my teacher. I was under the impression that I would be "running the show" during student teaching (state testing is over, all the required units have been completed), but so far I feel like I'm just following another person's lesson plan. Am I expecting too much? Do I have the wrong impressions? How the heck am I supposed to teach when I'm terrified of the other adult in the room?!

    Sorry, I just had to rant. I apologize for the vagueness...but I fear that if I specify any further, I may be jeopardizing my life, haha.
     
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  3. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    May 15, 2010

    :hugs: dodgerblues
    I finished my student teaching last spring. So, I am giving you advice based on my experiences. Sometimes, personalities/management styles can clash which can make student teaching tough. Do you have an university liaison or anybody in charge of student teaching at your university to talk about your concerns. At my university, I was assigned to an university liaison in which their purpose was to give me advice when needed and give me a grade for student teaching. My university liaison was very open about wanting me to let him know if I had any problems in the class and/or with my cooperating teacher (it was part of their job description-I never had any problems with my cooperating teacher, though). I feel for you.

    In college, I was told that I arrived at the same time that the cooperating teacher goes into work. Does this teacher want you to show up before they do?

    How I taught during my student teaching depended on the cooperating teacher. My cooperating teacher allowed me to come up with creative lesson plans that supplemented the teaching modules. Some of my fellow classmates were required to followed the teaching modules/lesson plans word for word. It just depended on the cooperating teacher.


    If you haven't, I recommend that you talk to your advisor or university liaison about your situation. They may be able to help you out.

    This is your first block of teaching, right? How long will you be in this particular classroom? Just curious.

    Do you write your own lesson plans when you teach or does she hand you the lesson plans for you to teach?
     
  4. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    May 15, 2010

    I was very lucky regarding my student teaching. First off, my advisor gave me credit for the subbing I did last year, so I was exempted from the first block of student teaching. Secondly, I had a very experienced and professional CT.

    There were times when I felt she didn't think I was doing a good job, so I constantly asked for suggestions of how I could improve. She was very supportive, but also allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn from them. At one point, I decided I would implement a "TEAM" approach to classwork, letting students work with partners or in groups on the assignments so they could benefit from cooperative learning and peer instructions. When I mentioned this idea to my CT, she just gave me one of those little smiles that said "This is never going to work, but go ahead and try it". The only comment she DID make was "It's ok for them to work together on some things, but they also need to work independently sometimes too so they all learn the material for themselves". I give the TEAM approach a try. It lasted for about 3 weeks, then we went back to her way. :whistle:

    I'm sorry you've had a difficult time with your CT. I really could not have asked for anyone better. She gave me the support I needed, but also the independence and flexibility to do my own thing and develop my own style.
     
  5. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 15, 2010

    @Maya

    There's only a couple more weeks until school is out, so I'm planning to just bite the bullet on this one. I create my own lesson plans, but I'm running on my CT's "rails", so to speak. Sometimes, though, I'll ask my CT for lesson ideas and they'll give me some old assignments that they've used before--and then I'll get a minor chew out when I do it "wrong"...which I am doing "wrong" because they never went through it with them. And then I cry.

    I don't think my CT expects me to arrive before they get there, but I've been getting there before them just to try to get on their good side.

    @Cerek

    I'm glad that you had such a great CT. That's what I want: to be able to learn to develop my own style. I also got chewed out for accepting late work, haha. Right now I feel like I have to follow my CT's style, but at least I'm learning a lot about classroom management and everything.

    Let me be clear: I feel like I'm really learning a lot and that my current CT is helping me a lot more than my classmates', but I just wish we had a better relationship. Thanks for your guys' input, though! And I'd still love to hear other people's experience.
     
  6. Miyata210

    Miyata210 Rookie

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    May 16, 2010

    Hi Dodgerblues -

    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. With a couple weeks left, I would definitely hang in there, focus on your rapport with the students and request a different placement for your next block of student teaching.

    My relationship with my cooperating teacher has been relatively good, but I have heard horror stories from some of my classmates. But even those of us with good experiences have run into the challenges that can be expected with taking over an experienced teacher's classroom.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Tigers

    Tigers Habitué

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    May 16, 2010

    From what you have written, you are making the most out of your circumstances by learning from the situation. With this approach I am sure that you will make an excellent teacher. One of the wonderful things about the internet is that you can find support and ideas where previously only a void existed. You are in that situation. While you are not experiencing the support and inspiration that you want from you teacher, you can let A to Z fill that void: Bounce around some ideas, vent about your day, rant about those other kids with the easy student teaching roles, ask for help studying or coming up with lesson plans. There are so many helpful teachers here and I am sure you will be one of those soon. Take care, smile, and make sure to give your Cooperating teacher a hug (she probably needs it).
     
  8. erudite

    erudite Rookie

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    May 17, 2010

    That's great that you are dealing with it well. I had a great experience with my CT last fall. My classmate in the same university and same school did not. The CT and the ST clashed in all ways. The CT would praise the ST to the University supervisor, but tell the ST she stink. Very weird. We would have meetings at the university, and she would tell me that she feel that we are at two different schools. I think her problem was not just accepting the CT classroom style. I think as a guest in the class, you should just follow exactly what the CT wants, and explore on your own when you are in your own classroom.
     
  9. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 17, 2010

    @ erudite

    Thanks for the advice. I have to keep that in mind that I'm a guest in their classroom. At the same time, though, it just gets frustrating because they seem like a bad "host" at times.

    Like today I stayed after school to help grade some in-class essays that my CT assigned last week. For an hour and a half I tried to grade papers while my CT talked (I was in the middle of them, mind you) with a student for about an hour and 15 minutes. Needless to say, I got only a few papers done, and I felt totally uncomfortable asking my CT if I could just grade the papers at home because they insisted that we calibrate and get on the same page with our grading styles (which I understand). I just get frustrated when I'm giving up my own time to go above and beyond what is required of me as a ST, and my CT still puts so much on me. And then afterwards, my CT just left without grading one! I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

    But I'm trying to be positive. There's only a couple of weeks left in the quarter, and I'm glad that I was able to help my CT during their difficult time. It's frustrating, but it's making me a better person--and a better teacher--by going through it. It's all for the kids!
     
  10. erudite

    erudite Rookie

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    May 18, 2010

    Hang in there dodgerblues! You want to be the best of the best, cause you never know who is watching...your hard work could bring you a job offer. If is doesn't I bet your CT will give you a glowing recommendation.
     
  11. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 18, 2010

    Haha, I don't know about a "glowing" recommendation--today I got "owned" by my CT pretty bad in class. First, in the middle of my lesson, my CT walked up to me and slipped me a note saying that I was focusing too much on comprehension. I got flustered and panicked, and I tried to change my lesson on the fly. It was obvious that I didn't know what I was doing, so my CT stepped in and took over the class.

    Needless to say, I felt humiliated. It was one of the few moments in my life where I felt like crying. I felt like my authority in the classroom was completely undermined, and quite frankly, I don't really want to teach that period anymore after that. I don't know what to do anymore. My CT says it just comes with experience, but I don't know if I have the tool set to be an effective teacher. I honestly don't know how I passed high school or college at this point.
     
  12. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    May 26, 2010

    I feel ya. My coooperating teacher my first term, had her days. She wasn't very kind or helpful in answering my questions sometimes. She was helpful for the most part, but we had some moments. There were times I needed to ask questions and she had this belittling caustic attitude, but then again she had that with her students as well. She even kind of questioned the program I was in, which is a good program. It was my first term in the program, very new to the whole field in general.
    Then I was asked to rate her on a form afterwards and I didn't know what to put. I didn't want to be seen as a troublemaker or negative, so I just gave her a B on some questions, instead of the A I had for most others.
     
  13. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    May 26, 2010

    Can say been there. My teacher found out that I was a sub teacher, so she thought I didn't need a lot of help. It was nice to have that trust, but would've been nice to have a little guidance!!!

    I can feel your grin it & bare it pain. Luckily, a classmate of mine was hired there, so I would go down there & visit & talk!!!
     
  14. cali*teacher

    cali*teacher Companion

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    May 27, 2010

    You know, that sounds like you are having a terrible time. She is supposed to be your mentor teacher, why is she giving you such a hard way to go? Doesn't sound to me like she needs to be in that role. Have you talked it over with your faculty? What a nightmare! I had a few difficult moments, but nothing that bad.
     
  15. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 27, 2010

    I only have a couple of days left, thank goodness. And cali*teacher--what's a faculty? Haha, I've only seen my adviser two times my whole time there--she canceled on me once already and is "scheduled" to come in for my final observation on Tuesday. I haven't been getting much support from anywhere.

    Ugh, I don't know. I feel terrible about myself as a teacher. I always imagined that I'd be super awesome, but so far I've nothing but disappointed myself. I get along with students just fine, but I have no idea how to teach my content area--I mean, I studied college-level English for four years. I haven't touched any of the high school curriculum stuff in forever--and a lot of the stuff they're reading I've never read before. I just get frustrated/scared about my inability to teach the material, on top of my anxiety of having my CT watch over my shoulder.
     
  16. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 28, 2010

    My CT asked for their keys back today and told me that Tuesday would be my last day when I could've been there for another week. They also posted on their Facebook that they never want another student teacher ever again. I can't sink any lower.
     
  17. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    May 28, 2010

    :hugs: dodger

    that is crappy about the facebook thing
     
  18. sunshine*inc

    sunshine*inc Cohort

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    May 28, 2010

    Sorry to hear that. Doesn't your university determine when your placement ends?
     
  19. erudite

    erudite Rookie

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    May 28, 2010

    That really stinks! Oh well, at least you don't have to deal with her anymore.
     
  20. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    May 30, 2010

    dodger, I don't know you, of course, but from your posts I get the sense that you aren't very confident in your abilities as a teacher. I also get the sense that your CT is exacerbating the problem by picking on you to make you even more uncomfortable. Please don't judge yourself by your weaknesses; you have many strenghts that brought you into the field of teaching, but only YOU know what they are. I can honestly say that I've been where you are, and probably experienced worse, but I realized that most people aren't intersted in your well being. Also, there are many people that like to see others fail. With that said, you can learn whatever material there is to teach, with experience, you can figure out how to design lessons to your liking. The same can't be said about people with personality disorders. The key, dodger, is believing in yourself and taking experiences like these, learning from them, and putting them behind you. YOU WILL BE OKAY.
     
  21. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    May 30, 2010

    Thank you, indigo, you really are an angel.
     
  22. cristin11

    cristin11 Rookie

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    Jun 14, 2010

    dodgerblues, I haven't been on this forum for long, so I just read about your experience. My heart is breaking for you! There are teacher ruiners in all schools (and some, like yours, come in the guise of a cooperating teacher) that like to pretend to help and then tear down their student teacher. It's pretty sad on their part.

    Just know this, you have to be confident in your abilities. None of us are born with these amazing teacher skills over night, we have to work hard at them. I was every bit as insecure about my lack of knowledge in my content areas as you are in your student teaching experience. I was lucky to have a great mentor teacher who told me that as a new teacher, I wasn't expected to have a perfect understanding and balance of the curriculum yet, all I was expected to do was my best. She also told me to pick my weakest teaching subject (since I am elementary), and work on getting that curriculum up to standard my first year. The next year, work on another subject.

    Major hugs for you. And thank goodness this person won't be getting another student teacher!!!!
     
  23. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2010

    I just wanted to add that my student teaching experience was very much identical to yours. My mentor teacher started out really liking and gave me a very high review marks, but after about a month she soured on me completely and began stating over and over how I was not doing well.

    At any rate, my confidence plummeted. I worked my tail off for her. She had no real lesson plans to start with. I did every lesson, test and quiz from scratch. I really took over the entire class and nothing (except my grading) was ever good enough. It was a nightmare.

    About the last week of the program, she informed me she would not be signing off on me as a teacher to get my certificate. She also added this shouldn't be a surprise since she had been open about not liking my teaching. She said I did not have the skills to be a good teacher ever and I should look into a new career. She said she felt the children are our future and putting me in the classroom would be harmful to them!

    I wrote an angry email to the director of my program about the situation and eventually they convinced her to sign off on me as long as I do some more observation hours. It was such horrible situation. I am glad to be rid of her and finally have my certificate!

    So you are not alone! You're lucky you're in a program where you might get another student teaching experience. This was my only one :(. Thanks for writing about your experience.
     
  24. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jun 19, 2010

    Wow-I can't believe how nasty these teachers are!! They are TEACHERS for goodness sake!! If they don't think you're doing a good job, they should be TEACHING you how to do it better! Do our teaching abilities end when a person hits 18?

    Do we tell a student how awful they are over and over and then give them an F and say we hope to never have a student again? What in the world?!?

    They should feel like the failures if they let you go an entire semester with them and still felt there was not a single redeeming quality about your teaching. Which I do NOT think is the case-I think they are just bitter, sour, nasty people with nothing better to do in life than harp on their student teachers.

    Hugs.
     
  25. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2010

    My situation is a bit similar - I started off with a CT that said I was doing well, but I had troubles and after the second month was told that I couldn't continue. She wrote a letter to my program supervisor saying that I am not suited for teaching high schoolers and would harm them. It really did shatter my self-confidence into a million pieces, and I am still trying to get my mental footing back on.

    Fortunately, my program people took mercy on me and had me do some observations at a different school, and do some written assignments to show that I understood and took in different classroom management and instructional practices, as part of a candidate assistance program. Hoping for a better student teaching experience in the fall.
     
  26. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2010

    Thank you guys for your support and well-wishes. I am doing well--I ended the school year on a sad note--I left without telling a majority of my students that it was my last day (when 2nd period brought up that they were saddened by the fact that it was my last day, my teacher asked me in the middle of class how they knew that, so I figured she didn't want me saying bye to them). It broke my heart.

    I have since started doubting whether or not I want to pursue a career in teaching. After all the stress from my first block I honestly don't know if I could handle the students, the parents, and the administrators. I'm a generally low-key, non-assertive kind of guy, so I don't know if I have what it takes. Add to the fact that I have to spend extra hours at home grading and lesson planning, I just don't know anymore.

    It sounds lame, but I actually have nightmares about working with my CT to this day. I get a sick feeling in my stomach as I drive towards the school on my way to my part-time job. My professors have all tried to tell me to not let one person ruin my passion and heart for teaching, but after dealing with my CT I've had some serious doubts about myself.

    I will still be completing my second block in the fall, since I don't want to have gone all this way for nothing. I'll be working at a middle school. I'm hoping that something turns around for me, but right now, I'm just glad that summer is here and I can finally relax.

    Again, thank you guys. Your kind words and encouragement have been a tremendous help in a tumultuous time.
     
  27. LaGolondrina

    LaGolondrina New Member

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    Hi dodgerblues. I know this thread is more than a few months old, but I read your post, and I can relate to your situation somewhat. My CT and I have a strained relationship and today she told me that she cannot write a letter recommending my certification as a teacher. What a bummer. For me, it is because of our differences in management styles -- my "positive reinforcement" management philosophy does not seem to have much power in this room, where constant yelling and "flip your card" is the only thing they hear. The teacher herself has told me that she's tired of teaching and is trying to change fields. She just does not seem very happy with her job.

    It's not that she's a bad teacher. She's really good at having them stay on task, and they respect her a lot. But she does yell, and issues punishments far more frequently than she offers rewards/praise. The atmosphere is oppressive, and you are afraid to approach or, or to move from your seat, even for me... but the atmosphere is professional, too. The kids do good work and always turn things in on time for her.

    So, really, I don't know. The creative, positivity-based management ideas that worked when I was pre-student teaching (positive reward tickets, positive incentives) just seemed like powerless gimmicks in this class. If I don't yell or speak seriously, they don't take me seriously. Meanwhile, because I don't yell, I am assumed to be the "nice teacher" in the room... which makes lessons very hard. They try to do whatever they want - giving them the "look" or curbing their behavior by standing by them don't seem to have an effect, and yelling in the middle of lessons just doesn't become me. It just doesn't sound that powerful when I yell (except sometimes, when I really speak from the heart - "I expect more from second graders", and "some of you are showing me that you want to learn. Those people, you make me so proud, I wish all of you could do that."). But I have to constantly stop in the middle of lessons... it is so distracting and time-consuming. Anyway, I have a lot of issues, as you can tell.

    How are you doing now? How do you feel about teaching - have you let it all sink in? You should try to find a very supportive friend or teaching colleague who will help you get back (and build up) your confidence by setting up some safe situations that you can do some guest-teaching in. Hope you are well, really. I have an entirely new appreciation for teaching after this experience (I have only 8 days left). Give us an update when you can!
     
  28. etcetera

    etcetera Rookie

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    Apr 2, 2011

    Hi, Do not let this bum you out. I have been joyfully and successfully teaching for 13 years. My internship was a nightmare. I had a teacher who acted like everything was going fine until my first university observation and then set me up to fail. I was told that I didn't have the personality to be a teacher and that everyone in the building knew what a terrible job I was doing. I went ahead and did graduate then immediately went to grad school and got blessed by professors who effectively and quickly taught me how to teach and built my esteem. 2 years ago I was teacher of the year at my school. I have thought about sending a copy of my certificate to my old cooperating teacher, but didn't sink to that. Anyway-though I know how hard it is right now-this is one of those stumbling blocks that will end up being a stepping stone for you.
     
  29. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Apr 2, 2011

    Dogerblues-

    Why are you telling everyone our business?????????? Just kidding! I had a negative student/teacher experience about 100 years ago, when I first started, and look at me now!!!!!!!

    Seriously- A lot of times bad experiences help you grow more, and see what you won't do when you're a teacher and have your own student teacher, right??? Hang in there-it's almost over. Just NEVER lose confidence in yourself!
     
  30. dodgerblues

    dodgerblues Rookie

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    Apr 5, 2011

    Hey guys, I'm still around and kickin'--I've finished my credential program with a much more supportive CT the second time around, and I felt like I was much more in control of everything. Now, I'm just sitting around looking for jobs and being depressed--but at least I get to wear sweatpants all day!

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't considering another career, but now it's only because of the difficulty getting a job. I'd love to sub, but honestly, I make more money working a day at Trader Joe's than subbing, haha. It's only a little depressing...

    @Golondrina: The problem is that your strategies have little effect in that one specific classroom is because the students haven't been trained to respond to it. Instead, they're only trained to respond to yelling and anger, which is never a good thing. IMO, if you're a teacher that any student is afraid of, you've done something wrong. Students should respect you, not fear you.

    As for everyone else, thanks! Knowing that I'm not alone in this situation has been a real blessing. It's comforting to know that I can "make it". It's been a crazy ride, but I think I've definitely much better for it.
     
  31. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 5, 2011

    I am glad your second term went better. Each ST experience is different, and each CT is different. Mine didn't let me teach unless I was being observed by the supervisor from the university. That's just the way it goes. Good luck with your job search, and keep us posted.
     
  32. m1trLG2

    m1trLG2 Companion

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    Apr 17, 2011

    I had almost the exact same situation happen to me during my first placement. Then to top it off, my teacher had a surgery planned months in advance (I found out) that she didn't tell me about and left for multiple weeks to take care of and there were no lesson plans left for what was supposed to be taught during that time.

    I had talked to my supervisor at my university prior to her leaving and was really stuck on what to do but when she left for such a long time with no information left for me I finally got my loop hole. If it's absolutely terrible and preventing you from teaching you could try what I did and look at your student teaching manual and just state the ways in which your cooperating teacher is falling short of her responsibilities. I literally went like this:

    Section 1 states that my teacher should be giving me weekly feedback, she has not yet provided me with a feedback form and has blatantly stated that she does not plan to unless someone makes her.

    Section 2 states....

    and so on. I got moved halfway through. It was a great move and a great experience but on the other hand it now presents a huge problem for me when applying for jobs because my student teaching experience section on my resume either has 3 teachers one of which I can not list as a reference or I only list 2 teachers and get questioned about why my first placement is only 4 weeks long.

    I would stick it out if possible, but you are paying tuition so if you feel you are really not getting an experience there I would suggest plainly stating the ways in which she is not meeting the requirements of the university's expectations for cooperating teachers.

    Then again though, I'm only a student teacher and 'actual teachers' might have a better long term view about how to handle this appropriately. Just passing on what I did, but who knows how it will come back to bite me in the butt in the future.
     
  33. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I can completely relate to your situation Dodger. I had a horrendous time during my student teaching earlier this semester.

    There were many days I would be at school for 10-12 hours and then come home and work another 4-6 hours. All of my lesson ideas were shot down because it wasn't the way she normally taught it. I tried to show her that I'm resourceful and found my own worksheets/independent practice pages. She refused to use any worksheets I found. When I decided to follow the textbook, she said that was to only be used as a guide for instruction, not the sole basis. She expected me to turn in 20 pages worth of lesson plans every week. A large majority of the lessons I wrote weren't even used.

    She berated me in front of students several times over things that could have been discussed privately after school. There were several occasions where she spoke to me so harshly that I had panic attacks during the school day. When that happened, she wrote a note to my supervisor saying how I need to control my emotional outbursts during school hours.

    Oh, and she kicked me out of her classroom once because I didn't send her something that she never asked me to do in the first place!

    Being in her classroom was incredibly unhealthy for me. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. My husband said I was just a shell of myself.

    My university completely took her side and said that I was not meeting expectations, and was outright disrespecting my mentor. They refused to give me a different placement. In fact, when I tried to voice my concerns back in the fall, I was written up for lack of professionalism and communication.

    In the end, she asked for me to removed from her classroom three weeks before my placement was over. It was devastating.

    Now I'm not student teaching at all and my graduation is delayed a semester. As disappointing as that may be, I am so glad to be away from that classroom. Now I'm subbing several days a week and love every minute of it.

    Moral of the story: Stick it out as much as possible, but if your student teaching is hurting you more than helping you, get out!
     

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