Student teacher vent

Discussion in 'General Education' started by silverspoon65, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    So I posted some concerns about my student teacher a few months ago when she started. Let's just say things did not get better. She did not improve and I would have a hard time recommending her for a job. However, as part of the requirements of being her cooperating teacher, I have to write her a letter of reference. It was very difficult and I ended up writing her a very matter of fact letter that basically just stated what she did.

    Today she had the audacity to ask me to rewrite it! And then she said she would do it for me and rewrote it herself and emailed it to me! Tomorrow is her last day and I don't even know what to say to her. Long story short, I won't be changing my original recommendation. I am really shocked!
     
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  3. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I'm also shocked that she asked you to rewrite it. I'm even more shocked that she wants you to use the letter she wrote for herself. Seriously??

    I'm glad you wrote an honest recommendation. It can tough, but you did the right thing.
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 26, 2012

    Well, you just said it. You say you will not be changing your recommendation letter. Explain that the recommendation must be yours and in your words. Also let her know it is the best you could do in light of what you have witnessed and the growth or lack of it you have seen.

    She may not like it, but in the long run, it may be better.

    Make sure you seal and make sure the seal is not able to be steamed open or broken by her. Write on the seal of the envelope so that part of the writing is above and below the seal. Then tape it and write on the tape if you have to.


    Now, I do find it terribly tragic when students spend so many years in a major only to find out in the end they just aren't cut out for it. I believe teaching majors should have more opportunities earlier in their education. But that isn't the topic, just expressing my feelings.

    Good luck with her. Sometimes the best medicine doesn't taste very good. What you are doing isn't a punishment, it is actually a good thing.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Apr 26, 2012

    Wow.
     
  6. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Apr 26, 2012

    :yeahthat:
     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    That sure took some guts!

    I had to write a hard recommendation last year. I emphasized the positive things I could find and was honest about the other parts. At least she was grateful that I wrote one for her at all.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    THAT is crazy.
    Wow.
     
  9. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    Some people have a lot of nerve.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Eek.:dizzy:I had one of those...
     
  11. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Apr 26, 2012

    You are doing the right thing. I am not aware of the previous posts/problems, but you definitely want to tell the truth. I also can't believe she wrote her own letter! CRAZY!!
     
  12. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Apr 27, 2012

    This is my concern - but without flat out telling her she has no chance at a career in teaching, I don't really know what else to say. I gave her multiple chances to improve. She had plenty of constructive criticism. Her biggest problem is that she is totally inconsistent. This is why her letter was so hard to write. I can't say she is creative, knows her subject matter, works hard to revise lessons, or pretty much anything else, because while I have seen her do those things, I have also seen her do the exact opposite - many more times. I don't expect her to be perfect, but she just never got all the pieces in place. If she had a great lesson, she totally ignored the kids and focused on her own delivery of it, and the classroom management and participation was a mess. If she focused on managing and disciplining the class, the lesson fell apart. Beyond the multiple evaluations and conversations and her grade, I just don't know how to make her understand that she is not cut out for this. And I feel bad for her, because the thing is, if you stink at student teaching, where do you go from there? Hopefully she can get a subbing position and improve there, but with no guidance, I don't know how that will happen. Or she will need a really strong mentor. But I can't imagine her getting a job in this area (many many layoffs) with her grade and my recommendation (or lack thereof) (and the same is true for her supervisor).

    I have to say yesterday I laughed it off as one of her many quirks, but by yesterday evening, I was furious. She basically insulted my writing her in request for her new letter. And I write a mean recommendation letter -when it is deserved. It took me a LONG time to write something positive for her.
     
  13. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 27, 2012

    I agree with the others. Use your original letter and forget about her. You probably will never hear from her again. Maybe you could CYA and send a copy of your letter to her supervisor (in case she manages to come up with a more complimentary letter...somehow!)
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Apr 27, 2012

    I'm not sure where people are getting this information about writing your own recommendation letter, but it is becoming a bit more prevalent. My DH was asked to write a recommendation letter and the request was quickly followed by, "If you don't have time, I can write it for you."

    I'm wondering if somewhere out there on the lovely thing we call internet is someone that is suggesting this to young adults.

    My DH said he wouldn't have agreed if he didn't have the time to think about it and do the job right.

    Adding to this message....
    Back again.......
    I googled. I was right. There are sites suggesting that a person write their own recommendation letter. One even says don't be surprised if the person you ask asks you to write a first draft for them.

    Seems she may not have come up with the idea on her own.
     
  15. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Apr 27, 2012

    Are you sure that she won't just take the letter that she wrote, sign your name to it, and submit it with her applications? In my state, it's totally up to the applicant to submit the letters, but maybe in your state, you could mail it so you know it is the correct letter.
     
  16. cult

    cult Rookie

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    Apr 27, 2012

    In the past when requesting letters of reference, my supervisors asked me to write the letter. It should be noted that in those cases the reference was overwhelmingly positive. Negative references should always be written by the supervisor.
     
  17. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    This is what part of the problem with the teaching profession is.
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apr 27, 2012

    I'm sorry you had a bad student teacher experience. Please don't let that scare you away from accepting student teachers in the future! Our new teachers NEED experienced and effective master teachers because we need high quality future teachers. We talked about this in the standards thread before, and the standards for becoming a teacher are already woefully low. The most important experience for a student teacher is their field experience.

    The percentage of teachers that actually accept student teachers into the classroom is already very low. Most of us in my program had such a hard time even finding student teaching placements, and some didn't at all (like me, and then I had to intern with no master or cooperating teacher).
     
  19. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Apr 27, 2012

    A lot of teachers/professors tell students to write their own letter and agree to sign it (I would personally hate to get a letter of recommendation that way). It's not just the students who are using this idea.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apr 27, 2012

    We've been conditioned by getting college reference letters. I've noticed that k-12 teachers like to spend the time writing out letters (unless they have poor English, in which case, they like drafts to be written), but every professor I've asked made me write a rough draft. My principal had me make a bulleted list of my accomplishments, areas that need improvement, and my strengths.

    It has become common practice to write your own letters of rec, but not to have one written for you, request it be re-written, and then written by the candidate without the consent of the person providing the reference. It's polite to offer to write a draft when you first request the letter, but not insist upon writing it, and only writing one once you have consent.

    I think when you write letters of rec for yourself, it behooves you to be brutally honest and not cast yourself in a rosy light. Just matter of factly state your strengths and accomplishments from the point of view of the reference (thinking about what THEY might say your strengths are, and not what you think they are), refer to specific examples (that your reference has observed), and be truthful and reflecting on your areas that could use growth.

    Most of the time, I provide such barebones drafts, that the reference usually adds all the other great things they found out about me, and molds it into their voice.
     
  21. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Apr 27, 2012


    Even if she does this though, they'll call the reference before making the hire.
     
  22. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I agree with Peregrin on the reference comments. It's very common advice these days but what makes this situation bad is that the ST rewrote a letter that was already given to her without consent.

    Silverspoon, what will you do if someone calls for a reference or asks you to fill out an online form? This is something I've been curious about. On the one hand, I kind of feel that you shouldn't tell someone you'll be a reference if you don't intend to give them a good one- you should be honest and tell them to find someone else. On the other hand, you don't want a school to unknowingly end up with a bad teacher. It's hard to think about killing someone's career vs. the students (or entire school system) that will be impacted with a bad employee.
     
  23. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 27, 2012

    That goes beyond strange. You didn't ask her to write it, she took it upon herself to do so. You have an obligation to be honest and forthcoming in your letter, and she will have to accept it, or just not use it.
     
  24. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    That's honestly terrible on her part. I would definitely let her university supervisor know. Then I would rewrite the letter, adding that she wrote her own reference letter and give that to her. Explain that if she wants a new reference letter, this is what you can offer her.
     
  25. courtney

    courtney Rookie

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    It's because of this kind of nonsense that the glowing, confidential letters of recommendation my cooperating teacher and professors have promised they wrote for me have little to no value to the principals I have spoken with thus far..they've reached the conclusion that all these show is a candidate's ability to find someone to say something nice about them. Her department REQUIRING her to acquire a letter written by you is odd, but I'm not surprised they want your input on her. That being said, I was purposefully placed in a Catholic middle-school for student teaching by my surreptitiously-hostile director, simply because he felt "a person like me could LEARN something there" (probably due to my being the president and founder of the SSA at my university.) I did well in that placement, but was yanked out mid-term and replaced at a public high-school because my cooperating teacher had received a call from him in which she shared that "Yes, she had been made aware (from a well-meaning classmate of mine, who felt my students' spiritual well-being was at stake) that I was non-religious, but was doing well and was much loved by the students." I would hate to think of a lesser person being in a do-or-die position upon which my future potential-employment hinged. I say either submit the original letter you wrote, or contact her department and alert them to your inability to submit a letter on her behalf. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing..but don't let her pen her own version. That sort of dishonesty is what ruins it for the rest of us..
     
  26. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    How much trouble would you get in if you refused to write the letter?

    In your shoes, I would be very likely to contact the university supervisor, explain what happened, and then tell him that I'd like my letter removed from the students' file. I would further advise him that if any potential employers called me, I would be unable to provide a positive reference for the student, and that it would be in her best interest to find somebody else.
     
  27. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Apr 28, 2012

    Don't worry. She wasn't my first and won't be my last. I will even go so far as to say that I enjoyed the challenge. I would like to teach teachers at a college level someday so she isn't going to discourage me.
     
  28. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I totally agree. I feel bad that she is just finding out that she really can't cut it in the classroom (although it seems to me like she still hasn't figured that out) and I wish there was a continuing year for extra practice, but they probably have enough trouble placing the first time around student teachers. Honestly, flunking her and forcing her to do another year might have been the best thing for her, even though I don't think (based on her rubric) she did THAT poorly.

    I would never write my own letter, and if someone suggested it, I think I would just politely decline and find someone else. I have given a resume and asked the recommender to include certain things, but they were always specific things, like I chaired this committee, not my opinion of myself, like, please tell them that I am creative.

    I will also add that she had no problems painting herself in a rosy light. However, I still don't think she understood that she did at best a fair job at student teaching. Her supervisor assigned her a B, which I think was generous, but anything under an A in this area is the kiss of death on a job application.



    Yesterday when she left, it just kind of struck me that her leaving was very different than other student teachers I have had. My planning period was at the end of the day, so I gave her a little gift, we chatted for a bit, and I let her leave early. In the past when I have had student teachers, the kids love them, they are sad to see them go, and we usually have almost a little party - kids will bring in cupcakes or cards or little gifts and most student teachers I have worked with have asked if they could bring in a treat for the kids on the last day. In this case, the kids were glad to see her go and couldn't wait for me to start teaching again. It's just kind of sad. I really do wish her well but I can't in good faith honestly recommend her for a job.
     
  29. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I will be honest. And part of me wonders if I should call her and tell her not to use me as a reference, but she had a weekly observation from me every week, plus a mid term and final evaluation. It should be clear to her exactly what I will say.
     
  30. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    If your asssessment of her student teaching and the whole reference letter thing IS very apparent, I would honestly just out and tell her honestly what the deal is. From your previous posts, she is an older lady, I believe? She's a big girl, she can handle it. I think it's better that she receive the bad news from you, in a relatively safe place, than to be fired from a job later on down the road. I would also consult her university before moving forward, as well.

    Just my two cents!
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    On all the applications I have seen, all recent graduates HAD to provide their cooperating/mentor teacher as a reference, their university supervisor as reference, and another of their choosing. It was stated very clearly these two were absolutely required as two of the three references. Even on an application I considered completing recently, I would have had to use these two as references...which I thought was so dumb after six years of teaching. My university supervisor was in his eighties at the time...I doubt he remembers me, if he's alive.
     
  32. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I would agree, but then why would the person use that letter ever in her/his resume? I tend to think of letters of recommendation as a formality... that "everyone" who applies to things has positive LORs. I understand that the hiring people would probably read it, but to me seemed more a formality and a personal affirmation.

    Very interesting thread.
     
  33. Speechy

    Speechy Comrade

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    Woah... I never thought about it being rude to ask a professor or someone overseeing you (mentor teacher) to rewriter a rec letter..

    My situation was that, at the time, the professor in question had written me a glowing review, but I did ask him to tweak it a bit because I really needed his reference for graduate school. He was the Mr. Rogers of my particular choice of study, so his word was practically god. I had reread the letter because he asked me too, and I noticed there was a spelling mistake, and that he had left out a few things. I pointed those things out and he rewrote it, no sweat.

    With most recommendations, including at the high school I attended, most teachers/ professors just had you send them a list of your grades and extra-curriculars, and they would base their letter off of that. I realize for college profs are now recommending students for jobs and higher learning, so it is a bit different.

    I would have explained to her, straight up, that you can't recommend her highly in your letter because of a, b, and c, or whatever your reasons are. Chances are, she assumed you didn't know what to put in the letter and she expected a glowing recommendation.

    Had my prof explained that he didn't really have too many positive things to say about my performance, therefore could not recommend me for a program, then I would have backed off.
     
  34. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I come across similar situations. I student taught in 2006 and my cooperating teacher had to miss a lot of the remainder of the year after I left (I subbed for the class a lot), and she retired due to health problems after that year (that was unplanned). I did not keep in touch with her. On my applications, I put her name, and always write unknown for her phone number. My university supervisor also retired in 2006, and I have no idea how to get into contact with him, either.
    I just list 5 references from the school I work at now.
     
  35. cult

    cult Rookie

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    Funny, I'm now dealing with a near identical situation except the person in question is not a student teacher but a guidance counselor. She has asked me (a teacher) to be her reference. She did a terrible job and was totally unprofessional. I am going to refer any inquiries I receive to our assistant principal because I don't want to accidentally do or say something illegal that would prevent her from finding employment. This woman would definitely sue.
     
  36. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Are you a sub?
     

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