*Sigh* Practicum Problem...

Discussion in 'Student & Preservice Teachers' started by Cme10, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2008

    Now, I am not mentioning any names, or particular schools, but I have had two horrible practicum experiences in a row, and I am terrified of student teaching at this point. My first practicum was strictly observation, and although I was in a car wreck, my teacher was very understanding and I learned a lot, even in a few short 25 hours. My second practicum was 50 hours in a K-5 exceptional education class. The teacher and teacher assistant I swear were out to get me. I did not really know what to expect so I became irritated when she would have me do things that I thought had no point. The teacher assistant went and told the teacher that I had said things which I had not. I simply expressed frustration about what I was really supposed to be doing these first two weeks. She told the teacher something negative and we ended up in altercation. The first half was horrible, but the students became attached to me, and it was for them that I perservered. However, after the first half, she seemed to warm up to me, even bought me lunch. I ended up with a B in the course but only because I think I shut my mouth and did not talk to the TA, and kept communication with my classroom teacher to a minimum.

    Now I am halfway through a 100 hour practicum with a teacher who hates me. FCAT is here, and I know she is stressed but two weeks into the practicum, she reported to my university instructor, and almost got me immediately failed! Both my university and elementary school teacher have their doctorate (Liberty to be mean I think), the elementary teacher told the university I had told her personal information she did not want to know, (However she did not tell what the personal info was), that I had badmouthed my last practicum, and was non-caring, and wore inappropriate shoes/clothes.

    Let me explain here: When I met with her, she had asked me how my last practicum had went, I told her honestly, I think there was a personality clash, and that she had marked me off for reliability and puntuality. So, I knew I would have to work on those areas. My university said I said it with a snotty, un-caring attitude. I tried to defend myself, only to get yelled at more. Secondly, I am a big woman, and clothes are very hard to find for me, so one day, on Thursday (my last day of the week) I wore jeans, was it professional? No. Did I have money for nice clothes? No. Luckily, I went and bought new clothes and shoes. I don't talk to her about myself. I ask her professional opinion, and I have really connected with my students. The third week, she gave me a good weekly eval, then the fourth week, I was back down to getting a lot of "Needs Improvement" in areas I thought I was doing good in. I do not know how she is grading me, or why she hates me, but my University instructor said that when she spoke to her, the woman did not even want me to come back! But she would not let me defend myself, threatened to fail me, and told me to shape up because this was my one and only warning, one more bad call and she would fail me! So, for being honest, and trying to connect with my classroom teacher, I got threatened with failure, yelled at, and was refused another placement or the chance to defend myself.

    I know as a pre-service teacher I need to learn from negative experiences..but I have been in school 17 years straight, and its like I never get a break. These teachers hate me. It takes all my energy not to return home after school and pass out, exhausted and depressed. I cannot fight the situation or ask for advice, because the classroom teacher will either fail me, or call the university instructor who will fail me. How will I survive student teaching if its this bad?!

    Any advice, suggestions? Similar problems? :help:
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 10, 2008

    Wow, Cme! You have definitely been in some tough situations. And you can't help what other people do/say about you sometimes, and in this case that could ruin your career before you even get started! I don't have any suggestions, but just go in there and make sure that you do everything your CT wants you to do. Its only a short time, and when you get out and in your own classroom, you can infuse your own ideals in it.
     
  4. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    Mar 10, 2008

    I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences. My best advice is to just bear it and do whatever your cooperating teacher wants you to do. Hopefully your student teaching will be better, but if it isn't you just have to remember that you only have to be there a relatively short period of time and you can make it that long. Also, I would suggest when you go to your student teaching to not say anything negative about your previous placements even if your asked by your cooperating teacher until your comfortable enough with them to know that they aren't to use it against you, like it seems like it was with your current practicum cooperating teacher. Good luck, I really hope you have a much better experience student teaching than you have had so far.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 10, 2008

    It seems odd to me that pretty much all your cooperating teachers hate you and are out to get you. As a teacher myself, I just don't think I'd have such strong feelings for a student teacher or observer unless they had really messed up.

    I do think you should really analyze what your supervisors and cooperating teachers have had to say about you. You mentioned that they felt that you...
    -dressed unprofessionally
    -spoke negatively about prior placement
    -were uncaring

    Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with their observations, you do need to think about why all these people are saying the same things. You've got to consider the fact that there may be at least a small amount of truth to what they're saying.

    No, it's not professional to wear jeans to your field experience or practicum without first knowing whether that would be appropriate. I'm a plus-sized girl myself and while I prefer jeans, there are always more professional looking clothes in my size at oldnavy.com or Lane Bryant.

    I'm not trying to be mean to you, and I am sorry if I sound harsh. I guess I just sensed a tone from your post. It makes me feel like if you were in my classroom, we wouldn't get along because you'd come across as very negative. I certainly don't know you or your situation beyond what you've posted here, but that is honestly the feeling I got from reading your post.
     
  6. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2008

    To be fair I did not say that all my practicum teachers hated me. The one I am with right now, does seem to hate me. However, I also stated that FCAT is going on right now, and she is frustrated. As I also noted, in my 50 hour practicum, through the beginning, when I did not know what I was supposed to be doing, we had altercation, sheerly out of frustration I believe. Towards the last half, we seemed to get along, she even bought me lunch. It was a rough start, and I think the TA had a problem with her own insecurity.

    As for examining and reflecting on what was previously said, I have done that and realized that I was not meaning to be negative in my comments about my previous field experience, I was simply trying to be honest with my new teacher, and tell her certain areas, that I knew based on my last experience I needed to work on. Being honest, as I said does not count for much with a lot of people. Silence is often the better option I have learned. As far as being uncaring, my latest practicum teacher and university teacher both said that that is how I "came across" so I consider that to be interpretting my tone. Now, just as emails can be taken the wrong way, I think tone can be misunderstood. I definately feel as though I should have been allowed to defend myself however, but when I profusely apologized, for coming across that way, it was shrugged off.

    Concerning the matter of dress, I know about Lane Bryant, and if I could afford that or Old Navy that would be one thing. I am not going to go into specifics about my situation, other than to state simply: I cannot afford to shop at those places. Especially not for an entire wardrobe when I work part time at a fast food place simply so that I can be at my practicum 4-5 days a week all day.

    I am sorry that you interpret my tone as being negative. These experiences have not been positive for me, and so it is not likely that I am going to come across as happy, I am seeking help, and advice from people in the same situation. It is hard to be optimistic after being in college for the whole four years straight, including summers, and half way through my last year I am threatened to fail an essential class. However, I will say: When I am in the classroom, I am always asking if she would like me to do anything, run any errands, I straighten her room, I offer to grade papers, I watch over the class, I entertain them so that they are not loud, and I am in general, quiet, and willing to help. I think thats a positive, helpful attitude. I made a few bad choices in the beginning, like I said was jeans a smart idea? No. But I ran out of options. Also, I was not aware that my teacher was going to be the sort that would not want to connect with me on a fun, interactive level. I find it unfair that she turns me in for so called "personal" information, but she can turn around and tell me about how her morning went to crap after she had to get out of her bathttub and shaving her legs, to go chase her dog. I find that very personal, and something I may not have wanted to know, but can I turn her in? Absolutely not.

    Again, I am sorry that you feel we "wouldn't get along" or that you took my tone as negative. All advice is helpful to me, but just as you said, there is a lot about my personal life that is not posted here, but the problem itself speaks volumes to me. So many times bigger people are discriminated against, and from the very beginning start out in the negative. Whether people want to admit it or not there is a bias against big people. Secondly, I wonder why it is that practicum students are forced to "suck it up" and "bear it" why is it that we can be reported on, and evaluated and our confidence broken and shattered, and yet we cannot defend ourselves for fear of failing.

    Seems utterly unfair to me.
     
  7. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2008

    I think you are right, when it comes to my own classroom, things might be easier, because I can do things my way, within the school and state standards and rules. One of the counselors at UWF, told me that student teaching just about killed teaching for him. He told me that once you have your own class, it is totally different. That is the ray of light I hold close!
     
  8. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Thank you for the positive advice, I do not intend on commenting on any previous experiences when I enter into student teaching. Hopefully in the next couple of months I can build up my wardrobe, (pathetic as it may be ! :haha:) and just cooperate and go in with a smile and a closed mouth. ^_^

    Thanks again!
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 10, 2008

    Cme, is there anyway you can maybe wash some pants and wear them twice a week. I've had to do that in the past, especially when doing observation hours and student teaching. I realize that not everyone is able to afford a full wardrobe right out of the box when starting student teaching so you have to work with what you got.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Thank you for responding to my post. I think I do understand where you're coming from a little better now.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you just get stuck with bad teachers, and that's all there is to that. In those sorts of situations, I do agree that it's best to stay quiet, have a smile on your face, and do what you're told (even if you don't see the sense in it).

    Remember that a lot of practicum and field experience can show you what not to do, and that is just as valuable as what you should do. Take all this stuff with a grain of salt, chalk it up to a learning experience, and vow to be a better cooperating teacher when it's your turn.

    [You might want to check out oldnavy.com's clearance section. I bought khakis and rugby tops for like $5 per item not too long ago. Shipping was free, so I ended up spending less than $40 for 8 different items which could be mixed and matched.]
     
  11. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2008

    With my tax return money, I was able to go to an outlet store and buy some nice long skirts, and blouses, a new sweater, and a black suit jacket, as well as a nice dress shoe. Most of my clothes are black, and I do end up washing them. Things are easier for me now that I have at least four outfits, and I can switch and mismatch tops, and pants, and skirts. Even if I only have six or so. My problem was before that I had to cut a full time manager position, into only being available to work Fri-Sun, and my manager only really uses my 4 hours a day on those days. So I just had enough to pay my bills, and have gas, not buy clothes. Thank goodness for tax returns I must say. My wardrobe won't be a problem anymore. Now I need to focus squarely on the two areas she has marked me as "Need Improvement" like puntuality and reliability, I have set my clock to be here ten to fifteen minutes before I am scheduled to arrive, and I have not missed a day since I got yelled at, with one exception, my dog was hurt, and so I ended up having to come in late after making sure she did not need medical care, but I did call 30 minutes before my scheduled arrival and left her a message. (Email is too unreliable with the school's blockers)
     
  12. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    I am glad I could let you see a little bit more into the situation with the specifics. I suppose you are right, sometimes there are just "bad seeds" and it is not necessarily their fault, I feel bad for my CT, with FCAT she rarely gets any sleep, or time to really teach anything beyond testing measures. This teacher has made my life hellish with that one bad report, but I find it hard to feel or be snarky towards her. I respect her. I think I have gotten a lot of "What not to do" not just from my teacher but also from the other teachers in the school that I come into contact with, but I always smile, speak politely, and offer up my help.

    I know teachers get burnt out, by standardized tests, cruel and unusual parents..there is so much to handle and I know it can break a lot of people...I just think that by the time the CT's can have practicum and pre-service teachers, their standards are years upon years upon years high, and sometimes we as students just don't rise, and it is just another disappointment. Which is why I am striving to not be a disappointment towards her, or anyone else.

    Do you know as an adolescent I swore I would never shop at Old Navy..? Claimed I would burst into flames upon stepping into the store..! Oh the good old days. When I have money I end up at Cato, or Bealls, but I will definately have to look into that clearance section, Old Navy is not a fate worse than death...or being naked..or being inappropriate. Thanks for the advice!
     
  13. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Mar 10, 2008

    The best advice I have is to soak up all you can--whether it is something you will do in the future, or something you know you won't do in the future. I would also try to sit down with your CT and outline exactly what her expectations of you are--if you clearly know what she expects, you will be able to improve those areas (think beyond punctuality and reliablilty). For future placements, I would always answer questions in a positive light--if you're asked how things went before, smile and say "I learned a lot, but I'm looking forward to learning more with you." Remember that your relationship with your CT should be strictly professional.
     
  14. real_life_teach

    real_life_teach Rookie

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    Mar 11, 2008

    Cme

    I feel you pain with the CT thing. I found that keeping my mouth shut and trying what my CT asked seemed to be the best case scenario. It makes them feel important, and sometimes their ideas DO work, and you will be amazed. I had a bit of a different experience where my CT tried to sabotage me. But, I just did everything they told me to do :). I feel your pain and you will be in my thoughts.
     
  15. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Mar 11, 2008

    Wow! Sounds like you are getting some fantastic advice! I also hope things go better for you now. One of the most valuable pieces of advice ever given to me while student teaching and during my first year at my new school (hired the Monday at the sameplace I student taught!!) was to do my job and keep any comments, opinions, and suggestions to myself until my first full year was done. Most veteran teachers don't care to hear what new grads think. They are quite insulted by it actually.
    Best wishes to you!!
     
  16. sarypotter

    sarypotter Comrade

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    Mar 11, 2008

    About the wardrobe thing -- Hang in there! I washed and wore the same three tops and pants in a variety of combinations for my entire student teaching experience. I work with kids with autism and of course, bless one student's detail-oriented little heart, he got really upset when I finally got a fourth outfit. He didn't recognize me in it!
     
  17. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 11, 2008

    Best advice I can give you... keep your mouth shut, your ears wide open, and your hands always busy with someone your CT wants you to do.

    Before letting any words come out of your mouth, ask yourself "Is this positive? Will it help? Is it necessary?" If you can't answer yes to all three, keep it to yourself.

    If anyone asks about previous practicums, a simple "I learned a lot." is sufficient.

    One thing my ST program drilled into us... "Be humble!" Realize that the CT is giving up her time, her experience, and is putting aside some of her goals to GIVE you this experience. In our district, CTs get a whopping $40 for all their work -- and it is custom for them to spend it on buying a gift for their ST at the end of the program.
     
  18. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Mar 11, 2008

    As Cassie said, some placements teach you exactly what you NEVER want to do or NEVER want to become. These experiences are just as valid and important as the best placements. Sometimes you just have to see the negatives to value the positives even more. Best wishes! I know it is easier said than done! I hope it works out for you! Just stick it out and do what you have to do- don't let 17 years of school go down the drain because of a few lousy experiences. The kids love you and that alone speaks volumes. Keep us updated! I hope it improves. Good luck
     
  19. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Mar 11, 2008

    This is some pretty great advice I think everyone needs a reminder for every now and again. It is always best to keep 'dirt' to yourself and focus on the positives.
     
  20. BeccaK

    BeccaK Companion

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    Apr 2, 2008

    I am currently student teaching...luckily I have had a very positive experience...as with you I have about three outfits that I mix and match. If you think about it...our CT's know that we either don't have a job at all (which is me!) or can barely work. The do not expect us to come in in brand new top of the line clothes....they simply want us to look as professional as possible. (even if we do wear the same thing every week!!)

    My policy has always been to keep my mouth shut and listen to everything my CT has to say! I have gained a lot from my experiences...both good and bad! However, if my CT were to ask...I am thrilled to be in her classroom and I have learned a great deal from her. I think the best thing to remember is that we need our CT's to pass...our best bet is to KEEP THEM HAPPY...even if that does mean we have to "sugar coat" things a bit. Hope this helps some!
     
  21. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    Apr 5, 2008

    I totally understand where you are coming from! I has a really good MT in general education. Now that I am in special education it has been a challenge. I too am big and had a comment made about my clothes. I was able to buy a few. As a single mom I make do with what I can. The advice I received is to follow my teacher. I have realized that there are lots of positive in the classroom and with the teacher.
     

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