Is this typical?

Discussion in 'Student & Preservice Teachers' started by skyline, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I'm currently student teaching. I'm wondering about how teachers typically do content planning. My cooperating teacher (CT) often doesn't know what she wants to do each day. It is always changing, and I find myself in a whole new plan (if she discusses one with me ahead of time). Suddenly, I may be handed something to do that I didn't even get to look at before teaching it. Am I supposed to just start planning lessons with no guidance? I'm not understanding how it all fits together, how I should be deciding what to teach, for how long, and progressions. I'm supposed to take over very soon, but my CT has not answered questions about how she plans content.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
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  3. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We did our ELA pacing guides (standards-based) during a summer work session. From there, we designed our assessments, and then our units. (Ours are theme-based and connected to social studies content.)

    My partner and I plan our weekly activities during our planning or PLC times. Usually we are a few weeks ahead with a general plan, and we try to be finished with everything about mid week before we need it. We don’t always match exactly on activities, but we are close.
     
  4. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Do student teachers typically follow the activities/lessons the CT would normally do? Or, should I just start coming up with what I want to do without input, then present it to her?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  5. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I would say it really doesn't matter what is typical. You are where you are. You need to speak with your supervising teacher. I don't understand why you wouldn't go into school over the weekend if she is going in.

    I think there is a big difference between not knowing the curriculum and not knowing the content. I would say as a ST you need to know the curriculum but some teachers do make last minute decisions about content. Your teacher may not be thinking through that everyone else can't plan last minute, especially when they are learning.
     
  6. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Mar 9, 2019

    Re-posted as a reply...
     
  7. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    When I asked her about coming in on the weekend, she proceeded to tell me that she likes to go in then because no one is there, and she can get a lot done. She didn't extend an invitation, so I don't understand it either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
  8. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    You may need to be a little more direct. This is what I am noticing... This is what I need.... Can I come in so we can work together on the weekend....

    She may just not be used to working with someone else.
     
  9. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I have been direct with a number of things, including this issue. My CT gets frustrated when I need something. Just one example: I asked for information that I needed for an assignment, but it took numerous times of me asking. I explained why I needed it. When she finally took the time to get the information, she was visibly frustrated. She was rushing around, sighing, and getting short and impatient with me. It is the same when I want to know what's on the agenda to teach more than a day out.

    My supervisor is the supervisor no one wanted. The couple classmates she also supervises could hardly deal with her. Anything I bring up, she has an unhelpful answer. Like when my CT changed the content on me last minute and wouldn't let me take home the packet she wanted taught with it. It was Friday after school when my CT told me next week she wanted to teach a chapter book instead of what we had planned. She didn't have time for me to make copies. My supervisor just said, there's all kinds of things on the internet. Well, my CT's packet she made isn't on there, so what good will that do.

    My supervisor's idea of behavior management is different than my CT's. My CT rarely moves clips. She yells and becomes physically frustrated with students. I moved a clip one day (it was a well earned clip move) and my CT got all bent out of shape and complained parents will be contacting her why the student's clip was moved. I told my supervisor and she told me to move clips anyway. But, everyone was on green unless a Special teacher had them move their clip. My CT is a yeller, a screamer, stomps around, and lectures the class. It's insane to watch!!! I'm not into yelling or physically moving kids back to their seats when they are wondering around the room like she does, or holding kid's faces in my hand and chewing them out. Or hitting them with a stack of papers.

    My CT doesn't do these things when my supervisor is there. My supervisor doesn't want to hear anything she doesn't want to hear. She's like the monkey, see no evil, hear no evil, there must be no evil.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I gave my ST the standards for the week, and they were free to come up with their own lessons, tweak mine, or use mine.
     
  11. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I think it's very helpful that you gave your ST that information and options. I was hoping that it would be like that in my placement, but it's not. My CT finally gave me a pacing guide for ELA, which I had to ask for numerous times before getting, but she doesn't follow it, so it's useless.

    Most of the time, she doesn't tell me definitively what standards she wants to cover next. We'll talk about the next lessons, even staying after school to try out hands on activities. Then, the next day, it has completely changed. For example, the pacing guide says one thing, so we discuss it the beginning of the week. I'm planning and writing lessons, then Friday after school, she informs me we're not doing what's on the pacing guide, but she can't find the materials for what she wants to do, which is a book I've never read. She has somewhere to be and no time for me to make copies, so I ask to take the materials home, so I can plan. She told me I couldn't take her materials home. I was in WT....mode. I left school grounds, pulled over, and called a family member, because I couldn't believe it. Here she just told my supervisor last week that I wasn't taking over as much as we had planned. But now she does that. How can I plan and do more on my own with what she's doing? The sad thing is this is typical and happens all the time.

    Then, before this, I wrote a five page lesson plan for an activity she does with her class. I was hoping to get used to leading a class using her tried and true expert lesson before changing things up a bit with some of my ideas. She said I could do that lesson, then when the day of the lesson, she wanted to do it. I asked about her doing the first part and letting me do the 2nd part, because I didn't know what to say with it being pulled on me right before the lesson. It was an instant stress bomb with already feeling nervous with being new to leading lessons in her class. I felt like I was a hamster on the wheel and couldn't process what she wanted.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    What does your university supervisor say?
     
  13. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Mar 10, 2019

    Hi Ima Teacher, thanks for responding!

    The times I've brought up issues with my supervisor she's made excuses for my CT's behavior and brushed it under the rug. My supervisor has never once asked me questions about how my CT is working with me. I have told her about not being giving information, curriculum materials, and the nature of the planning. Each time, she's cut me off.

    My supervisor and CT appear to be friends. They hang out and chat like old friends. A couple times now, I've been leading the class, and they've had conversations in the back of the room while I'm wrapping up and taking students somewhere. Whatever they're talking about, part of the time they're laughing and seem to be enjoying each others' company. Other times, they look serious and both keep looking at me.

    My supervisor hugged my CT before she left one day. She has never hugged me or anyone else in front of me..

    I brought up a couple of the issues with the Head of Education, not in an accusatory way, just as challenges I'm having. She's very diplomatic and dislikes conflict. I've been told things like: Most problems are due to communication, try this or that, etc..

    So, all I can speak to is what I've witnessed, and the lack of support.
    Thanks for reading all this!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  14. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I cannot imagine any new teacher walking into a school in the middle of the year in a grade they never taught, not being given any curriculum materials, and their teammates (who are formally evaluating them and in the room) not knowing what to cover next and changing it every morning, and feel like they can be successful.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Are there any other student teachers in your building?

    I didn’t enjoy my cooperating teacher very much. Once I had my own student teacher, I realized some of what she did was actually for my own good.

    However, I’d think the cooperating teacher would try to be more structured and planned just because you are learning. She can go back to planning how she wants once you are gone.
     
  16. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I'm the only student teacher in the building. I can understand what you mean by how the relationship between STs and CTs can be at odds, but is done for good reasons.

    I realize it's not easy for my CT to open up her room and spend time mentoring me, but I was really hoping to learn from her.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  17. zmp2018

    zmp2018 Rookie

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    She might be in that spot in her teaching career where she can change things at the last minute and still achieve something. My mentor told me at the end of my experience that he never wants to let his student teacher down, so he always made sure I knew what would happen the night before class. Each night, we would discuss the next day, and I would watch him teach our morning class, and then I would teach our later classes.

    I think it is unfair for your mentor to change things all the time. She might be able to do it and not encounter any issues, but she has to remember that new teachers are not typically able to wing things. I am not sure how many student teachers she has had before you, but mine had six before me, so he knew how to handle a student teacher. My mentor would be so specific and explicit that he would send me lesson plans with projected times for each activity, which I really appreciated.

    I student-taught seventh-grade ELA, and that was a unique experience because the curriculum was very focused on the state testing. My mentor was so worried about his state test scores, so we did a lot of co-teaching. I had my moments to shine, but I followed a lot of what he did because he wanted things to go a certain way. I still had moments where I could be creative, however. We had a general pacing guide and then specific lessons in each unit.
     
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  18. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Hi Zmp2018,
    Thank you for sharing your experience! It helps me understand the way it should be. It is really nice that your CT sent you lesson plans and projected times! My CT hasn't had a student teacher, but she's served as a mentor to a couple new teachers.

    I was hoping my CT would be consistent about taking time with me after school to discuss the next day or two at least. I don't understand why she doesn't realize changing it up last minute (right before the lesson begins) would be a problem for me, especially with content I haven't looked at yet or materials I haven't had a chance to read. She acts like it's normal, and I'm the one with the problem when I look like a deer in headlights.

    It sounds like you passed student teaching with flying colors? Did your student teaching experience lead to a job?

    I'm so worried how my student teaching experience will affect me in the long-run. I feel all over the place and like it's impossible to show what I'm cable of doing. I keep hoping I get the chance to plan and teach in a normal way. It's been very stressful!
     
  19. zmp2018

    zmp2018 Rookie

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    I did end up with a wonderful recommendation from my mentor and supervisor. My mentor told me that I was one of his best student teachers and also had the most content knowledge out of all his student teachers. He told me that he had to actually teach concepts to student teachers, but he never had to do that with me.

    Student teaching hasn’t landed me a full-time teaching gig, yet, but it did land me a daily “building sub” position. I am in the same school each day and put wherever there is a teacher absence. I love being in the same building each day even though it’s not a full-time teaching position.

    One of the things about student teaching is that you won’t learn everything about teaching in the short time you are student teaching. There are certain things you won’t learn until you have your own classroom and are on your own. Even as a sub, I love being on my own and not being watched and critiqued every minute of every day. My mentor was awesome with constructive criticism, but I was always really self-critical of my performance and worried that I was messing up BECAUSE I was always being watched.

    The best advice I can give to you is “fake it till you make it,” I guess. You want that solid recommendation from your mentor and supervisor. Student teaching will be an important factor in getting that first job, but I feel that after your first job and some years of teaching experience, student teaching does not matter as much as actual teaching experience.
     
  20. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Being watched every minute of everyday is not fun, especially when it's done by a mentor that isn't supportive.

    Subbing is great experience. What grade and subject matter do you want to teach?
     
  21. zmp2018

    zmp2018 Rookie

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    I want to teach 7-12 English. I student-taught a 7th-grade ELA class and really liked that age group, but I like high school, too.

    The secretary at my school where I’m a building sub always tries to place me in an English room if an English teacher is absent, so it’s really nice. Another nice thing about subbing in the same school each day is I’m able to build a rapport with the students. A lot of students know me, now, and it makes classroom management so much easier.
     
  22. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I would not have gone into school during the weekend as a student teacher. I had a weekend job so I would have refused. The cooperating teacher should work with you either before or after school.
     
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  23. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    Exactly! It's not possible for me to go in certain hours over the weekend. She doesn't have a set time or day and goes in at random times (all hours of the day and night), just whenever she feels like it, so even if I was available, I would have to wait by my phone ready to go. I don't know why she took a student teacher since she doesn't want to take the time to show and explain things or plan with me.
     
  24. zmp2018

    zmp2018 Rookie

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    Unfortunately, I think some teachers take a student teacher just so that they can sit back and relax, which is horrible for molding people into the profession.

    Before my student-teaching semester last semester, I had "pre-student teaching" for six weeks last spring semester. My mentor for that experience was definitely not as a good as my student-teaching mentor. He would leave the room and go to chat with other teachers or make copies. He told me he did not want me to feel uncomfortable, so that is why he left the room, but I needed him in the room so that he could offer constructive criticism! My evaluations from him felt useless because he barely saw me teaching. It was frustrating. I think he just liked having someone to take over his workload for half the day.
     
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  25. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    All the difference the CT makes! I wish my CT would leave the room and just let me teach since she doesn't want to take the time to tell me what's to be taught next. Then, when I plan lessons without much information and input, she decides last minute there's things she wants me to teach. I don't have time to look it over before teaching it. It literally makes me sick to my stomach and has affected my health.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  26. skyline

    skyline Companion

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    I'm flexible, but I don't know how to adapt in these circumstances to make it work.
     

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